Regional Scouting Report: South
Compiled by Jim Callis
May 23, 2002
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Each state or area is graded on a five-star scale, with one star indicating
a particularly weak crop and five stars a particularly strong one. The
ratings are based on the level of talent a place generally produces, so
Southern California isn't graded on the same scale as Alaska.
By the state's lofty standards, this is an average year for talent in Florida. The high schools have plenty of talent, including the top two power hitters in the entire draft: first basemen Prince Fielder and Brian Dopirak. Mirroring the rest of the nation, it's a down year for college players, at least from four-year schools. Florida doesn't have a collegian who projects to go before the third round. The junior colleges offer almost as many premium players, though the two bestrighthander Kyle Pawelczyk and lefty Nick Touchstonemay sign before this year's draft.
1. Zack Greinke, rhp/3b, Apopka HS
2. Denard Span, of, Tampa Catholic HS
3. Matt Whitney, 3b/of, Palm Beach Gardens HS
4. Prince Fielder, 1b, Eau Gallie HS, Melbourne
5. Brian Dopirak, 1b, Dunedin HS
6. Adam Donachie, c, Timber Creek HS, Orlando
7. Steven Doetsch, of, Dunedin HS
8. Christian Madson, rhp, Bloomingdale HS, Valrico
9. Brandon Jones, ss, Wewahitchka HS
10. Elijah Dukes, of, Hillsborough HS, Tampa
11. Alex Hart, rhp, Florida
12. John C. Barnett, rhp, Florida Southern
13. Eddy Martinez-Esteve, of, Westminster Christian HS, Miami
14. Tyler Greene, ss, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Fort Lauderdale
15. Kyle Pawelczyk, lhp, Chipola JC (Control: Expos)
16. Robert Andino, ss, Southridge HS, Miami
17. Nick Touchstone, lhp, Okaloosa-Walton CC (Control: Yankees)
18. Justin Gee, rhp, Sarasota HS
19. Kiki Bengochea, rhp, Miami
20. Pat Osborn, 3b/ss, Florida
21. Camilo Vazquez, lhp, Hialeah HS
22. Javy Rodriguez, ss, Miami
23. Kevin Howard, 3b, Miami
24. Gabriel Sanchez, ss/3b, Brito Private HS, Miami
25. Gavin Dickey, of, Lincoln HS, Tallahassee
26. Ryan Shealy, 1b, Florida
27. Mark Kiger, ss, Florida
28. Erik Thompson, rhp, Pensacola JC
29. Justin Tordi, ss, Dr. Phillips HS, Orlando
30. Neil Wilson, c, Vero Beach HS
31. Brad McCann, 3b, Gulf Coast CC
32. Brandon Wilson, rhp, Okaloosa-Walton CC
33. Michael Musgrave, rhp, Forest HS, Ocala
34. Justin Hoyman, rhp, Brevard CC
35. Matt Lynch, lhp, Florida State
36. Alexy Hernandez, ss, Monsignor Pace HS, Hialeah
37. Mark Sauls, rhp-3b, Bay HS, Panama City
38. Josh Murray, ss, Jesuit HS, Tampa
39. Robbie Read, rhp, Florida State
40. T.J. Prunty, rhp, Miami
41. Trey Shields, rhp, Bay HS, Panama City
42. Larry Grayson, of, Manatee CC
43. Mark Worrell, rhp, Indian River CC (Control: Devil Rays)
44. Ryan Barthelemy, 3b, Florida State
45. Troy Roberson, rhp, Miami
46. Micah Posey, lhp, Tallahassee CC (Control: Angels)
47. Jimmy Kubek, rhp, Seminole HS
48. Kyle Patrick, rhp, Apopka HS
49. Michael Simard, rhp, St. Petersburg JC
50. Justin Barnes, rhp/ss, Manatee CC (Control: Mets)
51. Mark Michael, rhp, Central Florida
52. Alan Rick, c, Palatka HS
53. Andy Putnel, rhp, Auburndale HS
54. Justin Meier, rhp, West Orange HS, Windermere
55. Tim McNab, rhp, Florida Atlantic
56. Keith Ramsey, lhp, Florida
57. Bryan Williams, rhp, Jacksonville
58. Mike White, lhp, St. Petersburg JC (Control: Devil Rays)
59. Von Stertzbach, rhp, Central Florida
60. L.J. Biernbaum, of/1b, Florida Atlantic
61. Chad Oliva, of, Jacksonville
62. Mike Barclay, of, South Florida
63. Matt Cundiff, rhp, Cooper City HS
64. Jeremy Hunt, rhp, Northside Christian HS, St. Petersburg
65. Aaron Soberiaj, 3b/of, Florida
66. Brad Eldred, 1b, Florida International
67. Devin Anderson, lhp, West Orange HS, Ocoee
68. Andy Wilson, 2b/rhp, Stetson
69. Ryan Gloger, lhp, South Florida
70. Jason Graham, rhp/of, Central Florida
Projected First-Round Picks
Zack Greinke, rhp
Few players in the nation have helped themselves as much as Greinke, who entered the year as a potential second- or third-rounder and now figures to go in the first 8-15 picks. An outstanding athlete who's part of a typically strong Clemson recruiting class, he's a legitimate prospect as a third baseman and holds most of Apopka High's career batting records. But teams are focusing on his mound prowess, which includes a 92-93 mph fastball that has touched 96, a plus changeup and a good breaking ball. He commands all three pitches very well, and scouts like his poise and mental toughness.
Denard Span, of
An all-state wide receiver at the 2-A level, Span would have the opportunity to play college football had he not chosen to focus on baseball. Like Greinke, he's a solid first-round pick who has improved his stock significantly this spring. His best tool is his speed, which grades as a 70 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale, and it's easy to look at him and dream of Kenny Lofton. He's still a bit raw on the bases and at the plate, where he's more of a slap hitter and needs to settle down his feet. He does have gap power and it's hard to ignore a lefthanded hitter with plus tools. He tracks balls well in center field, though his arm is no more than playable.
Matt Whitney, 3b
Whitney was surging into the first round as the draft approached. He's a candidate for the Angels at the No. 12 pick, and at 6-foot-4 he's built along the lines of Troy Glaus, though he doesn't make as much contact or have as quick a bat. The Phillies, shopping for a replacement for Scott Rolen, are interested in Whitney at No. 17. He has a sweet swing, big-time power and a solid approach to hitting. He reminds some scouts of David Wright, a Mets supplemental first-rounder in 2001, with not quite the same strength. Another Clemson signee, Whitney is an athletic third baseman with a strong, accurate arm and steady hands. He began his high school career as a first baseman and outfielder, but there's no doubt he can handle the hot corner.
Prince Fielder, 1b
The son of former American League home run champ Cecil Fielder is drawing strong interest from a couple of teams with ties to his dad: the Brewers, whose senior adviser Bill Lajoie was the general manager in Detroit when Fielder starred there, and the Tigers. Fielder produces mixed reports, and some teams think his body is as scary as his power, which ranks behind only fellow Florida high schooler Brian Dopirak's as the best in the draft. Fielder, who signed with Arizona State, is considered better than Dopirak because he hits lefthanded, has a better approach at the plate and is more agile. Cecil paid a personal trainer to help Prince cut his 6-foot frame from 300 to 250 pounds, but not all scouts are convinced the weight will stay off when he's in the bus trip and fast food lifestyle of the minor leagues. Prince is shorter and heavier than Cecil was at the same age, and Cecil had one of baseball's all-time bad bodies. He might fit best with an AL team, which could stash Fielder at DH if he puts the weight back on.
Brian Dopirak, 1b
Dopirak can launch balls better than anyone in the draft, though he's still viewed as a hit-or-miss player who could hit 50 homers in the majors or wash out in Double-A. He's more of a free swinger than Fielder and his ability to make contact is uncertain. He's also less polished defensively than Fielder, and his body isn't particularly toned. He likes to show off his tattoos, which doesn't always endear him to scouts, but there's no denying his bat speed. A potential supplemental first-rounder, Dopirak almost certainly will sign rather than attend St. Petersburg JC.
Projected Second- to Fifth-Round Picks
Adam Donachie, c
In a down year nationally for catchers, Donachie could go as high as the second round. He stands out defensively with his catch-and-throw skills and has an athletic build at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds. He has improved markedly with the bat since his sophomore year, showing good power and starting to switch-hit as a senior. It's not clear whether he'll get much stronger, though his 1.9-second pop times from home to second help ease that concern.
Steven Doetsch, of
Doetsch and Dopirak let Dunedin High to wins in its first 32 games before the Falcons lost in the 4-A state semifinals. Doetsch has the best all-around package of tools in the Southeast, featuring a strong pro body (6-foot-2, 180 pounds), speed, arm strength and power potential. Though he played right field in high school, he should be able to handle center field once he signs. He swung through a lot of pitches and didn't hit well last summer, so there's still a bit of a question about his bat despite his near.600 average as a senior.
Christian Madson, rhp
Madson is loaded with physical talent, his most obvious gifts being his 6-foot-8, 225-pound frame, a fastball that has reached 95 mph and a loose, easy delivery. Yet he may not go in the first or even second round because he doesn't go after hitters, throwing too may splitters instead of daring them to hit his heat. He turns it on at showcase events and doesn't compete as well during games. For all his projection, he has fallen out of the first round and may head to Florida if he doesn't get first-round money.
Brandon Jones, 3b/of
Jones played quarterback, defensive back and punter for his high school football team and point guard in basketball. He'll likely move from shortstop to third base or the outfield as a pro, but he should have enough bat to play anywhere. One scout said he has the second-best hitting approach in the Southeast behind Georgia high schooler Jeremy Hermida. Committed only to Tallahassee CC, he should be a relatively easy sign.
Elijah Dukes, of
Tampa's Hillsborough High has produced first-round picks such as Carl Everett, Dwight Gooden and Gary Sheffield, but none was in Dukes' class as an athlete. One of the nation's top high school linebackers, Dukes also starred at running back and has signed to play football at North Carolina State. He's a physical specimen at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, and his combination of size and speed has evoked comparisons to Bo Jackson. He offers plenty of power and speed (4.0 seconds from the right side of the plate to first base) as a corner outfielder, and he's more polished than similar athletes often are. He also has a strong arm and would be a candidate for pitching if not for his offensive potential. Dukes has played at four high schools in four years, and off-field problems scared off some of the nation's better college football programs.
Alex Hart, rhp
A 1998 second-round pick by the Orioles, Hart struggled in his first three years at Florida. He went a combined 6-9, 6.94 and missed most of 2000 when he needed Tommy John surgery. Armed with a new cut fastball, he has blossomed this spring, going 13-1, 3.14 in 15 regular season starts. He may throw the cutter a little too much for scouts' tastes, and he hasn't dominated this year, but he still should be the first college player drafted in the state. His fastball peaked at 92-93 mph earlier in the year, he has cleaned up his delivery and he still has a nice, lanky build.
John C. Barnett, rhp
Florida Southern has won a record eight NCAA Division II World Series, and Barnett put them in position to grab a ninth this year with an MVP performance in the South Regional. He pitched seven strong innings in the opener against Carson-Newman, only to have the bullpen blow the win for him, then came back to save the finale against Tampa three days later. He has two potential plus pitches in a 91-93 mph fastball that explodes down when it reaches the plate, and a slider that can be inconsistent. His changeup has a little screwball action to it. Barnett hit a midseason slump when his mechanics went awry, but he got back on track just in time for the Moccasins.
Eddy Martinez-Esteve, of
After a strong performance at showcase events last summer, Martinez-Esteve has maintained his status as the best all-around player in South Florida. He has a strong frame at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, and he has prototypical right-field tools with his bat, arm and speed. He likely will go in the third or fourth round in June, but could be a first-round pick in 2005 if he were to turn down the pros and spend three years at Florida State.
Tyler Greene, ss
Greene is one of the better tools players in Florida, and some scouts think he's more skilled then Doetsch. They love his body (6-foot-3, 175 pounds), as well as his above-average speed and arm. He's a pure shortstop in a draft lacking in them. That could have made him a sandwich pick had he not been overmatched while using wood bats last summer. There's still some question about his offensive ceiling, and he might not get drafted high enough to steer him away from Georgia Tech.
Kyle Pawelczyk, lhp
The Jeffrey Loria regime didn't leave much behind when it abandoned the Expos for the Marlins. Perhaps the most valuable commodity Montreal retained was the draft-and-follow rights to Pawelczyk, an 11th-round choice in 2001. He threw as hard as 93 mph and showed a tight slider early in the season. Though he was down to the upper 80s with a more marginal breaking ball by the time of the state junior college tournament, he's still expected to sign with the Expos rather than re-enter the draft or attend Louisiana State. Though he has a history of back problems, Montreal's team doctor has cleared the Expos to sign him.
Robert Andino, ss
Andino is reminiscent of the Indians' Ricky Gutierrez, a Miami-area shortstop drafted in the first round in 1988. Like Gutierrez, Andino isn't big, but he shows great hands and actions at shortstop, is a tick above-average runner and has some pop because he takes a healthy cut at pitches. His best tool is his arm, as he has been clocked up to 92 mph on the mound.
Nick Touchstone, lhp
The Yankees work the draft-and-follow process as well as any club, and they may have another gem in Touchstoneprovided they can sign him. They already have offered him $200,000, and the South Carolina recruit apparently wants more than twice that much. He has a terrific body (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) and fastball (91-92 mph, peak of 95) for a lefthander. He doesn't have much feel for pitching or command, and he's going to need time to develop, but it's impossible to ignore his size and heat.
Justin Gee, rhp
The MVP of the 1999 Babe Ruth World Series (13-15), Gee pitches for Sarasota High, which produced three first-round pitchers (Matt Drews, Doug Million, Bobby Seay) in the mid-1990s. Gee wont go quite that high, though his body (6-foot-4, 200 pounds), fastball (it touches 92 mph) and breaking ball are all attractive. Like Christian Madson, he frustrates scouts because he doesnt overpower hitters or handle adversity as well as theyd like.
Kiki Bengochea, rhp
Speaking of frustration, Miami may miss out on the NCAA playoffs for the first time in 30 years, right on the heels of winning two of the last three College World Series. Part of the Hurricanes problem was that Bengochea, a projected first-round pick at the beginning of the year, got off to a horrid start that prompted his removal from the weekend rotation. After posting a 0.92 ERA last summer for Team USA, he lost his velocity and command and got hammered. He has pitched better as of late, lowering his ERA to 5.58. His sinker is back to 88-92 mph, his slider is again reliable and hes getting ahead of hitters. Still, his performance, lack of a dominant pitch and choice of advisers (Scott Boras) could cause him to slide past the third round, the spot where the Royals drafted him out of high school.
Pat Osborn, 3b
Osborn was a hot prospect coming out of high school, though he lasted until the 22nd round in 1999 because he told teams he definitely wanted to attend Florida. His first two years were notable more for his injuries than his production, and he has had surgery to repair labrum tears in both his shoulders. Osborn has bounced back significantly as a junior, batting .410-13-56 in the regular season. He has the body (6-foot-3, 207 pounds), swing and glove to make it as a pro, and he projects to have solid power. His arm strength still hasnt returned and is well below average, but it was solid in the past. For all Osborns attributes, scouts still say something seems to be missing from the overall package. Some see him moving to left field as a pro. He could go anywhere from the third to seventh round.
Others to Watch
LHP Camilo Vazquez, who came from Cuba to Hialeah High as a sophomore, helped the Thoroughbreds win the last two state 6-A championships. Hes a sub 6-footer, but because hes lefthanded, consistently hits 88-91 mph with his fastball and has a plus breaking ball, he could get drafted as high as the third round . . . Javy Rodriguez was the most valuable player on Miamis 2001 national champions, playing shortstop and leading NCAA Division I with 66 steals, but he wasnt drafted because scouts didnt like his pudgy body. Rodriguez hasnt played as well and has moved to second base as a senior, but he has trimmed up and is more attractive to scouts. He can be an all-around second baseman who bats near the top of the order. . . Rodriguez teammate, 3B Kevin Howard, is a solid college player with Team USA experience but scouts have little idea where to play him as a pro. He doesnt have the power to play third base or the outfield and he doesnt have the footwork to play shortstop. He might have to try to become an offensive second baseman, and he definitely must get stronger . . . SS Gabriel Sanchez will have to move to third base as a pro because he has a thick lower half, but he has the strong bat and arm required for that position . . . OF Gavin Dickey is one of the better athletes in the draftand among the current college football recruiting class. A Florida-bound quarterback, hes not very refined as a baseball player and will be tough to buy away from the Gators . . . Like his Florida teammate Pat Osborn, 1B Ryan Shealy was a highly regarded prospect out of high school (a fifth-round pick of the Rockies in 1998) who did little but get hurt (elbow surgery) in college until 2002. His considerable power finally manifested itself as a senior, as his 21 homers are five more than he hit in his first three seasons . . . Another Gator, SS Mark Kiger, is one of the more versatile players in the draft. He has tremendous baseball aptitude and can help a team anywhere on the diamond except for pitcher, catcher and first base . . . The states top junior college prospects, Kyle Pawelczyk and Nick Touchstone, are under control to major league teams, but several other quality jucos are not. The best of that group is RHP Erik Thompson, who missed 2001 because of Tommy John surgery and is under 6 feet tall. Yet he touched 96 mph early in the year and showed a good curveball before fading late, and he throws strikes. Others include: 3B Brad McCann, who can hit and throw but may need more strength; RHP Brandon Wilson, who got a top grade from the Major League Scouting Bureau and has thrown 90-93 mph with a plus curveball; Justin Hoyman, a very skinny, very projectable 6-foot-4 righthander who has a nice three-pitch mix, highlighted by an 88-91 mph sinker; toolsy OF Larry Grayson, who was named MVP at the state juco tournament, where he led Manatee to the championship; and Canadian RHP Michel Simard, whos very raw but has thrown from 85-91 mph. McCanns brother Brian, a Georgia high schooler, is one of the better catching prospects in the draft, and Brad is considered a possible candidate for moving behind the plate . . . Other juco players who should be picked decently if they dont sign as draft-and-follows are live-armed RHPs Mark Worrell (Devil Rays) and Justin Barnes (Mets) and LHPs Micah Posey (Angels) and Mike White (Devil Rays). Barnes prefers to play shortstop and hit, but scouts say he needs to give that up and concentrate on the mound. Posey has a partial tear in his shoulder and missed the end of the season . . . SS Justin Tordi didnt hit much on the summer showcase circuit, and even after improving his swing hes more likely to be a star college player at Florida than sign right away. Despite good hands and actions, he projects more as third baseman than a shortstop. Catching might be in his future once the pros get ahold of him . . . Last year, C Neil Wilson was on the same Vero Beach High team as eventual Pirates draft pick Chris Torres, so Wilson played more at shortstop and third base. Now that hes behind the plate, he has emerged as an all-around backstop with a strong arm . . . Michael Musgrave didnt get seen at the start of the season because he was playing basketball. The athletic 6-foot-3 righthander, who also played football, threw 92-93 mph once he got going . . . Unlike most years, Florida State doesnt have a top prospect in 2002. Its best prospect is LHP Matt Lynch, but until recently he hasnt pitched as well as he had in previous seasons, sitting in the mid- to upper 80s. Hes more about pitchability than stuff . . . RHP Robbie Read and 3B Ryan Barthelemy are two more Seminoles who should be drafted. Read throws 90-92 mph with a plus slider when hes going good, but he pitched poorly as a starter and was moved to the bullpen. His ceiling is higher than Lynchs, but his command isnt nearly as good. Barthelemy, a senior who had a 33-game hitting streak this spring, has power but no clear position. The Cardinals tried to sign him as a nondrafted free agent out of the Cape Cod League last summer, with the intention of trying him at catcher . . . As a high school sophomore, SS Alexy Hernandez looked like a 2002 first-rounder. But he never got any bigger, stronger or faster, and had a disappointing senior this season. He helped himself at the Perfect Game predraft showcase in mid-May, but he still might not go very high . . . RHP-3B Mark Sauls can reach 92 mph and has a strong 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame, but he scares scouts by hooking the ball in the back of his delivery. He probably wont get drafted high enough to keep him away from Florida State, which also has his brother Matt, a Gulf Coast (Fla.) CC outfielder, as an incoming recruit . . . Sauls Bay High teammate, RHP Trey Shields, has an extremely projectable body (6-foot-7, 210 pounds) but has seen his velocity fluctuate from 84-85 mph to 90-91. Signed with Gulf Coast CC, he might be more of a draft-and-follow than an immediate sign . . . SS Josh Murray missed 2001 following Tommy John surgery, so he wasnt a known quantity entering this year. Hes a defensive standout who can handle the bat OK . . . RHP T.J. Prunty originally signed with Miami as a quarterback, but he became a full-time baseball player as a draft-eligible sophomore. He has a 6-foot-3, 205-pound build and a loose, live arm, but hes still a work in progress. He threw 88-91 mph early in the year before going through a dead-arm stage and dropping to 84-85. Hed go much higher next year if he returned to the Hurricanes and added some polish . . . Fellow Hurricane RHP Troy Roberson missed most of 2000 and all of 2001 after elbow problems required Tommy John surgery. Before the elbow started bothering him again some this spring, he was throwing 88-91 mph with a plus breaking ball and very good command . . . RHP Kyle Patrick might have been a second- or third-round pick, because hes 6-foot-4 and throws 92-93 mph when he uses a three-quarters arm slot. But his high school coach had him throw almost sidearm, and he threw in the low to mid-80s all year while battling his command . . . C Alan Rick, the son of St. Johns River (Fla.) CC coach Sam Rick, offers lefthanded power. But he might be more of a first baseman than a catcher . . . RHP Justin Meier threw seven shutouts, including a 1-0 win over Zach Greinke. He threw 86-88 all spring and showed an effective slurvy slider, but he has more of a college body (6 feet, 195) and might not go high enough to be steered away from Louisiana State . . . RHP Tim McNab began his college career as an Indiana outfielder, switched to the mound and set a Northwoods League save record in the summer of 2000, then transferred to Florida Atlantic. This year he served as a closer, showing an 88-91 mph sinker, a hard slider and plus command . . . RHP Jason Graham, another converted outfielder, has thrown 88-93 mph in his first extended trial on the mound . . . LHP Keith Ramsey returned to Florida rather than sign with the Reds as an 11th-rounder last year, and hell go in the same area this year. Shifted from closer to starter, he flirted with no-hitters in consecutive starts against Georgia and Mississippi State. Hes not a velocity guy, but his slider gets lefties out and he induces a lot of ground balls . . . RHP Bryan Williams threw three consecutive shutouts and went 47 innings without allowing an earned run. A good athlete who has seen some time at third base for Jacksonville, he throws 87-89 mph and has a biting slider. He nibbles at the corners very effectively, though theres some effort to his delivery . . . Teammate Chad Oliva set Suns records for career homers and RBIs this year, but scouts liked him more when they though he had a chance to catch. Now they dont, and he spent this year as an outfielder . . . LHP Ryan Gloger has been an enigma since turning down the Devil Rays as an eighth-round pick in 1999. He barely pitched in two years at Stanford, yet had two productive summers in the Cape Cod League. He threw only 83-86 mph on the Cape in 2001, transferred to South Florida and got up to 88-91 in the fall. He didnt sustain that this season, though, working in the mid-80s with no secondary pitches and mechanical problems.
GEORGIA *****Georgia produced four first-rounders and a sandwich pick in 2001, and it again ranks as one of the more fertile states for 2002. This year's group is led by athletic outfielders Jeremy Hermida and Jeff Francouer, and contains two of the best catchers anywhere in Brian McCann and Tyler Parker. Georgia is one of the few states with balance between collegians and high schoolers, pitchers and hitters, offering a little of everything for all tastes.
1. Jeremy Hermida, of, Wheeler HS, Marietta
2. Jeff Francoeur, of, Parkview HS, Lilburn
3. Micah Owings, rhp/3b, Gainesville HS
4. Brian McCann, c, Duluth HS
5. Jonathan Broxton, rhp, Burke County HS, Waynesboro
6. Tyler Parker, c, Georgia Tech
7. Robbie Sovie, of, Stratford Academy, Macon
8. Friedel Pinkston, rhp, Hart County HS, Hartwell
9. Jason Perry, 1b/of, Georgia Tech
10. Matt Pender, rhp, Kennesaw State
11. Justin Tyler, 3b, Jones County HS, Macon
12. Derrick Smith, of, Dooly County HS, Vienna
13. Scott White, 3b, Walton HS, Marietta
14. Chris Goodman, rhp, Georgia Tech
15. Matt Capps, rhp/c, Alexander HS, Douglasville
16. Patrick Clayton, rhp, Walton HS, Marietta
17. Mitchell Boggs, rhp, Dalton HS
18. Christian Castorri, rhp, Thomas City HS, Thomasville
19. Mitch Douglas, lhp, Augusta State
20. Brandon Moss, rhp, Loganville HS, Monroe
21. Ryan Aldridge, rhp, Wayne County HS, Jesup
22. Chad Spann, 3b, Southland Academy, Buena Vista
23. Victor Menocal, rhp/ss, Georgia Tech
24. Brian Bulger, rhp, Georgia College
25. Barrett Browning, lhp, Wayne County HS, Jesup
26. Brandon Moorhead, rhp, Georgia
27. Mike Joyce, lhp, Georgia College
28. Mike Roga, rhp, Armstrong Atlantic State
29. Chris Walker, of, Georgia Southern
30. Brian Benefield, rhp, Hardaway HS, Columbus
31. Michael Smith, lhp, Valdosta State
32. Jason Yarbrough, rhp, Middle Georgia JC
33. Skyler Webb, rhp, Brockwood HS, Snellville
34. Malcolm Currie, rhp, Jones County HS, Gray
35. Donnie Hood, ss, Kennesaw State
36. Lloyd Turner, 2b, Kennesaw State
37. Adam Davis, rhp, Metter HS
38. Will Peterson, of, Valdosta HS
39. Corey Wachman, rhp, Valdosta State
40. Jonathan Craig, rhp, Georgia State
Projected First-Round Picks
Jeremy Hermida, of
Hermida was the biggest mover in the last few weeks leading up to the draft, coming out of nowhere to become a candidate for the second overall pick to the Devil Rays, and almost certainly one of the first 12 picks. He was on follow lists entering the season, so he wasn't a complete unknown like 2001 sensation Colt Griffin. Nevertheless, his ascent has been startling. Some scouts think he's the best high school hitter since Eric Chavez, and one scouting director gives Hermida a perfect 80 grade (on the 20-80 scale) for his bat. He has a smooth approach, makes consistent, hard contact and has good power potentialand as a bonus, he hits lefthanded. A natural recruit for Clemson, because his sister goes there and he played with coach Jack Leggett's son in the prestigious East Cobb program, Hermida almost certainly won't attend college at this point. He's not a one-dimensional player, either. He's a plus runner with a slightly above-average arm who projects as a pro right fielder. Hermida has put on 20 pounds in the last year while improving as much as anyone in the nation.
Jeff Francoeur, of
Francoeur is the top two-sport athlete in the draft, a blue-chip defensive back ticketed for Clemson football. Conventional wisdom is that he'll sign to play baseball, though he'll use his leverage to maximum benefit. He's a physical player, with a 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame and plus-plus speed, arm, bat speed and raw power. The one concern scouts have is his batting approach. It doesn't happen very easily for him, as he has a spread-out, no-stride stance and tends to spin off pitches and struggle with breaking stuff. The Braves love to sign home-state players, and the thinking is they'd jump at the chance to grab Francoeur if he's around when they pick 23rd.
Projected Second- to Fifth-Round Picks
Micah Owings, rhp
Another Georgia prospect drawing attention from the Braves, Owings should go in the sandwich or second round. He was MVP of the Connie Mack World Series last summer, helping East Cobb claim the championship by hitting a grand slam and earning a save in the semifinals and drilling a three-run homer in the finals. Though he would offer power potential and arm strength as a third baseman, he'll become a full-time pitcher this summer. He works at 88-92 mph and reaches 93-94, and can throw his late-breaking slider for strikes. Owings also has a strong body (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and shows a feel for a changeup. He's not as projectable as some because he was held back a year in school and will turn 20 in September, but his raw stuff is plenty good as it is.
Brian McCann, c
The son of former Marshall head coach Howard McCann and the brother of Gulf Coast (Fla.) CC third-base prospect Brad McCann, Brian is one of the top catchers in a draft that's quite thin at that position. Given his bloodlines, McCann has an advanced understanding of how to play the game. He's a good receiver with a strong, accurate arm, though he needs to work on his footwork and agility behind the plate. He has a quick bat and plenty of power potential, but gets tied up by breaking balls and hasn't fared as well against better pitching. He doesn't run well and will need to keep his lower half from getting too thick, but all in all shows considerable promise.
Jonathan Broxton, rhp
Broxton looks like a future power closer, though some teams have a hard time getting past his body. He's 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, is thick throughout his body and looks more like a tight end than a pitcher. If he gets much bigger, Broxton could have trouble repeating his delivery and throwing strikes. He has thrown 90-92 every time out, peaking at 97 mph. He still has plenty of work to do with his slider and changeup.
Tyler Parker, c
Parker may have the highest ceiling of any catcher in the draft, but he shared time behind the plate in his first two seasons, missed much of his sophomore year with thumb and wrist injuries and never has played as well as he did in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2000. His raw tools, including his size (6-foot-3, 212 pounds), power and arm strength, are fine. He has a long swing and strikes out too much, has some funkiness to his arm action and doesn't receive balls as well as he should. Some clubs say he's more suited for first base, but a catcher-hungry team that believes in his potential and thinks that all he needs is the repetition of pro ball could take him in the second or third round.
Robbie Sovie, of
Hermida and Francouer aren't the only athletic outfielders who attracted scouts to Georgia. Sovie starred as a running back/safety at Stratford Academy, winning two 3-A state championships, and excelled in track. Timed at 6.3 seconds in the 60-yard dash, he's the fastest legitimate prospect in the draft. Amazingly, he didn't lose speed after missing all of the 2001 baseball season following reconstructive knee surgery. Little known in baseball before 2002, he has center-field ability and raw power to go with his wheels. Sovie is learning to hit and has taken up switch-hitting to better use his speed, and he has a below-average arm. After accepting a football scholarship from Western Carolina, he may commit to Middle Georgia JC to keep his baseball options open.
Friedel Pinkston, rhp
Scouts have cringed at the way Pinkston was used last summer and this spring. He routinely started and closed games in the same week, and he pitched through shoulder pain as his fastball dropped from 95 mph in his first start to 85-86 in his third. He took time off and got back up to 93 mph. He's athletic and equally raw. Pinkston has an electric arm but little concept of a curveball and will need plenty of instruction. He didn't sign with a four-year college and is expected to turn pro rather than attend Chipola (Fla.) JC.
Jason Perry, 1b-of
Perry led the Cape Cod League with eight homers last summer, but he sprained an ankle this spring and went a month without going deep. He has to hit, because his power and bat speed are his only plus tools. He did help his cause by drilling two opposite-field homers against Miami in mid-May. He has split time between first base and the outfield, though some scouts think hes more of a DH. The Athletics apparently like Perry more than most clubs and could pop him as early as the third round.
Matt Pender, rhp
In the last two years, Pender has gone to the Junior College World Series with Middle Georgia and the Division II Series with Kennesaw State. He won his first 11 decisions with the Owls before losing in the regionals. He has a long, lanky body (6-foot-5, 210 pounds) and can be dominating at times, throwing 92-93 mph with a peak of 95. He also has an above-average curveball. His mechanics need some work and he has had difficulty staying healthy. The White Sox have had success with college projects, such as Danny Wright, and theyve shown some interest in Pender.
Others to Watch
Its unlikely that 3B Justin Tyler will head directly to pro ball. Hes committed to playing quarterback for Mississippi State and reportedly has a seven-figure asking price. He has the best body (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) among Georgia high school players and a great physical presence. Power and a cannon arm are his two best tools . . . OF Derrick Smith is a stocky lefthanded hitter out of the Brian Giles mold. Hes an excellent hitter with plus power, but he doesnt run well or do much defensively. He has more of a college body (5-foot-11, 185 pounds) and could be a star at Florida State . . . 3B Scott White has raw power but he also has a hitch in his swing that good pitchers can exploit. The Braves focus on in-state talent and might be the only team that would draft him high enough to get him away from Georgia Tech . . . Two Yellow Jackets who began their college careers as shortstops may pitch as pros. Chris Goodman definitely will. After playing at No. 1-ranked Lassiter (Ga.) High in 1999, he had a rough freshman year as a North Carolina State shortstop. He transferred to Georgia Tech and has done well in 2002, his first full season on the mound. He shut out Clemsons powerful lineup and has shown a high-80s sinker and a curveball that has its moments. Victor Menocal still plays regularly in the infield and set a school record with a 30-game hitting streak this year, but he projects better on the mound because he doesnt have the range for shortstop or the power for third base. He approached the coaching staff last fall about pitching, and threw 92-93 mph and while flashing a 12-6 curveball. He would have pitched more had he not suffered a deep bone bruise on the shin of his front leg . . . RHP-C Matt Capps will pitch as a pro because he throws in the low 90s. If he goes to Louisiana State, hell also catch because hes an above-average hitter and a physical presence behind the plate . . . RHP Patrick Clayton reached 94 mph in May and has a nice pitchers build (6-foot-3, 200 pounds). But he also has no breaking ball and off-field issues are causing teams to back away . . . RHP Mitchell Boggs has an ultraprojectable body (6-foot-4, 180 pounds) and already has touched 92 mph. But the high school quarterback is considered a tough sign and he throws across his body . . . RHP Christian Castorri also has good size, as hes the same height as Boggs and 30 pounds heavier. He has touched 91 mph and his slider is better than Boggs breaking ball . . . Three small college lefthanders are drawing interest. Though Mitch Douglas is just 5-foot-11 and has some effort to his delivery, he has touched 94 mph as a closer and has a hard slider. Mike Joyce relies more on pitchability. At 6-foot-6, Michael Smith is the most projectable of the three. He tops out at 88 mph for now . . . Like Boggs, RHP/3B Brandon Moss is a Georgia recruit who will be difficult to buy away from college. Hell be a two-way player for the Bulldogs or a pitcher as a pro. He doesnt have the smoothest delivery, but he throws 88-93 mph with late movement on his fastball, has a plus breaking ball and goes right after hitters . . . Wayne County High RHP Ryan Aldridge and LHP Barrett Browning likely will be draft-and-follows. Aldridge is raw and throws in the low 90s, while Browning maxes out at 90 and has more pitchability . . . Browning and 3B Chad Spann have committed to Middle Georgia JC. A high school quarterback, Spann has great makeup and instincts. Hes an above-average hitter with pop and arm strength . . . RHP Brian Bulger was one of three brothers drafted last year. The Giants took Kevin, a shortstop, in the 43rd round and Brian in the 49th, while the Diamondbacks made Jason, a righthander, a surprise first-rounder. Bulger throws 90-91 mph, and his dad is convinced his velocity could rocket up if he returns for his senior year. Thats what happened with Jason . . . RHP Brandon Moorhead, who overcame elbow and shoulder problems earlier in his career, beat Florida State to put Georgia in the 2001 College World Series. Hes been up and down this year, getting as high as 92-94 mph when hes going good . . . Canadian RHP Mike Roga doesnt have a fluid delivery, but he can touch 94 mph, works at 88-91 and locates his curveball for strikes . . . OF Chris Walker can give Robbie Sovie a run for being the fastest player in the state. He ranked third in NCAA Division I with 46 steals in 51 attempts in the regular season, and hes a slash-and-run hitter who just tries to make contact. Scouts would like to see him take up switch-hitting so he can maximize his speed by batting lefthanded . . . RHP Jason Yarbrough is Georgias best junior college prospect. He can reach 93 mph, but hes only 6 feet tall and lacks pitchability.
SOUTH CAROLINA ****It may be a down year for college position players, but you wouldn't know it by looking at South Carolina, which should produce three of the first four college bats taken in infielders Jeff Baker and Khalil Greene of Clemson and Drew Meyer of South Carolina. All should be gone by the end of the sandwich round, and Clemson first baseman Michael Johnson could go quickly in the second. By contrast, South Carolina offers next to nothing in the way of high schoolers, with lefthander Forrest Beverly the only quality prospect.
1. Jeff Baker, 3b, Clemson
2. Drew Meyer, ss, South Carolina
3. Khalil Greene, ss, Clemson
4. Michael Johnson, 1b, Clemson
5. Forrest Beverly, lhp, Conway HS
6. Jarrod Schmidt, of/rhp, Clemson
7. B.J. LaMura, rhp, Clemson
8. Matt Lauderdale, c, College of Charleston
9. Yaron Peters, 1b, South Carolina
10. Ben Thurmond, rhp, Winthrop
11. Matt Henrie, rhp, Clemson
12. Steve Reba, rhp, Clemson
13. Justin Owens, of, Coastal Carolina
14. Brandon McCormick, rhp, Wayman HS, King
15. Brian Buscher, 3b, South Carolina
16. Tom Mastny, rhp, Furman
17. Tony Adler, rhp, South Carolina
18. Garris Gonce, of, South Carolina
19. Trey McDaniel, 3b/rhp, Brookland-Cayce HS, Columbia
20. Hank Parks, 1b, Spartanburg Methodist JC
Projected First-Round Picks
Jeff Baker, 3b
Baker continues to be the top college position player available, yet his .332-21-70 season has left something to be desired in the eyes of scouts. Baker started poorly when teams pitched around him early, giving him a lot of offspeed slop off the plate. He has exceptional bat speed and power, and he broke Matt LeCroy's school record for career homers. He also has the glove and arm to be a solid third baseman, once he adjusts his footwork. While scouts acknowledge Baker is a fine hitter, they also think he's overrated and has holes in his long swing. He has a big uppercut and could get overmatched by quality fastballs up or in once he starts using wood. His track record without aluminum isn't impressive, as he has hit .216 with two homers in two summers with Team USA. He might go in the first 10 picks, but if it's true that he wants a deal similar to the $9.5 million big league contract Mark Teixeira got from the Rangers last year--and Baker has the same agent, Scott Boras--then he could plummet toward the bottom of the first round.
Drew Meyer, ss
Meyer has the best tools of any college middle infielder, but he'll probably be drafted behind North Carolina's Russ Adams because of Meyer's Cape Cod League performance. He has hit .214 and .192 in two summers using wood bats, and there isn't a lot of rhythm to his two-part swing. He has helped himself by adjusting as a junior, transferring his weight better, staying inside pitches more frequently and trying to pull pitches less often. He has hit .379 this spring, including an attention-grabbing home run off a 93 mph fastball from Kentucky's Joseph Blanton. Meyer has the bat speed to hit for some power and average, and he's a stolen-base threat. There's less concern now that he might have to move to center field or second base. His hands aren't the best, especially when compared to former Gamecock Adam Everett, but Meyer has made all the plays this spring while showing a plus arm. He should go in the second half of the first round, which would give him the distinction of becoming the third South Carolina shortstop drafted in the first round or supplemental first round in five years. Everett was a first-rounder in 1998 and Brian Roberts a supplemental first-rounder in 1999.
Khalil Greene, ss
Baker was more heralded, but it's Greene who remains the frontrunner for Baseball America's 2002 College Player of the Year. Returning for his senior season after the Cubs drafted him in the 14th round last June, Greene has learned to extend his arms and hit for power. He batted .476-21-73 during the regular season, breaking several school and Atlantic Coast Conference records in the process. He has a good two-strike approach and is patient enough to take walks. While there's some thought he might lack the range to play shortstop as a pro, he maneuvers well there and has an accurate arm. At worse, he'll be an offensive second baseman. He fits the Athletics prototype and could be targeted by Oakland with one of its four sandwich picks.
Projected Second- to Fifth-Round Picks
Michael Johnson, 1b
Duke's Larry Broadway was supposed to be the class of ACC first basemen, but Johnson has surpassed him and has an outside chance of being a sandwich pick. While Baker has slipped in the minds of scouts, Johnson has improved. He shortened his swing without sacrificing his above-average power, which he generates with a quick bat and nice loft. He uses the whole field and makes adjustments well. He's reminiscent of former Clemson first baseman David Miller, a 1995 first-round pick of the Indians, but has more power. He runs OK and is athletic enough to possibly handle the outfield as a pro.
Forrest Beverly, lhp
Beverly might be the only South Carolina high school player drafted in the first 15 rounds. He's a lefthander with a projectable frame (6-foot-3, 195 pounds). His fastball has ranged from a low of 85 mph to a high of 93, and he usually works at 88-89. He also can throw his breaking ball for strikes, though he's in the early stages of learning to pitch. A South Carolina recruit, his signability is a question. He has stated a preference to be drafted by an East Coast club, and the Braves have shown a lot of interest.
Others to Watch
Clemson will have several players drafted beyond its big three of Jeff Baker, Khalil Greene and Michael Johnson. OF-RHP Jarrod Schmidt has considerable potential but scouts arent sure whether hes better as a position player or pitcher. He changed his arm slot this year and wasnt as effective on the mound, and hes a little bit stiff at the plate and in the field. He has the mentality, body and work ethic to catch, but Clemson never got the opportunity to use him much behind the plate. RHPs Matt Henrie and Steve Reba have been the Tigers aces this year. Henrie works at 86-87 mph, Reba at 84-85, but theyve both been tough to hit because they have good offspeed stuff and command. RHP B.J. LaMura has more juice in his armhe can reach 92-94 mphbut hasnt been as successful because he lacks their pitchability . . . Archrival South Carolina was ranked No. 2 to Clemsons No. 6 at the end of the regular season, but cant match the Tigers for draft depth. Beyond Drew Meyer, the Gamecocks next pick could be 1B Yaron Peters, the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. A fifth-year senior, Peters will be able to sign as a free agent before the draft unless South Carolina goes deep into the postseason. He has big power and a big swing, but he might be more of a mistake hitter than a true masher. 3B Brian Buscher is a lefthanded hitter with some strength and athleticism. Hes also a very good defender. RHP Tony Adler, who has touched 93 mph, might have been a high pick. But he had bone chips cleaned out of his elbow last summer and didnt feel right this year. Hell probably be redshirted. OF Garris Gonce has a hit-or-miss swing. Hes another senior sign for the Gamecocks, as are RHP Chris Spigner and LHP Gary Bell . . . RHP Ben Thurmond was the second-leading winner behind Bobby Brownlie on Team USA last summer. But he pulled a muscle in his forearm during a 120-pitch outing versus Georgia Tech on March 10 and missed three months. He can throw three pitches for strikes: an 89-91 mph fastball, a big league changeup and a plus curveball . . . C Matt Lauderdale is the best catch-and-throw guy in the state. Hes also a line-drive hitter who battles pitchers . . . RHP Tom Mastny, the Coastal Plain Leagues No. 1 prospect last summer, throws 88-91 mph but doesnt get much movement on his fastball . . . South Carolinas best juco prospect is 1B Hank Parks, who offers a lot of power with the tradeoff of a lot of strikeouts . . . RHP Brandon McCormicks 6-foot-8, 220-pound frame intrigues scouts, but he had Tommy John surgery in the fall.
NORTH CAROLINA ****North Carolina wasn't much of a factor in the 2001 draft, but righthander Jason Neighborgall is the state's best high school prospect since Josh Hamilton went No. 1 overall in 1999. The Tar Heel State also boasts the top two prospects from the Cape Cod League last summer in North Carolina infielder Russ Adams and Wake Forest closer Dave Bush, both of whom could be first-round picks. Bryan Harvey's son Kris and Western Carolina's Jared Burton, both righthanders, bolstered the state's depth with their emergence this spring.
1. Jason Neighborgall, rhp, Riverside HS, Durham
2. Russ Adams, 2b/ss, North Carolina
3. Dave Bush, rhp, Wake Forest
4. Kris Harvey, rhp/c, Bandys HS, Catawba
5. Larry Broadway, 1b, Duke
6. Jared Burton, rhp, Western Carolina
7. John Maine, rhp, UNC Charlotte
8. Josh Rupe, rhp, Louisburg JC
9. Brandon Perry, lhp, Graham HS
10. Nic Carter, of, Campbell
11. Brian Grant, rhp, C.B. Aycock HS, Goldsboro
12. M.J. Hurley, rhp, Hoggard HS, Wilmington
13. Jake Smith, c, Southern Guilford HS, Greensboro
14. Mike Fratoe, rhp, Elon
15. Nick Starnes, rhp, Graham HS
16. Calvin Hayes, ss, East Rowan HS, Salisbury
17. Brian Wright, of, North Carolina State
18. Ryan Johnson, 1b, Wake Forest
19. Adam Kalkhof, lhp, Jordan HS, Durham
20. Thomas Benton, rhp, Kinston HS
21. Scott Autrey, rhp, North Carolina
22. Adam Greenberg, of, North Carolina
23. Chris Maples, 3b/rhp, North Carolina
24. Ryan Falcon, lhp, Northern Durham HS
25. Chris Mason, rhp, Bessemer City HS
26. Nick Evangelista, rhp, Louisburg JC
27. Matt Danford, rhp, Broughton HS, Raleigh
28. Blair Waggett, of, Laney HS, Wilmington
29. Sam Narron, lhp, East Carolina
30. Glenn Tucker, rhp, East Carolina
Projected First-Round Picks
Jason Neighborgall, rhp
Neighborgall might have the best pure arm in the draft, with stuff that favorably compares to Josh Beckett's. Neighborgall sits at 92-96 mph with his fastball and has pushed 98, and he has a curveball that some consider superior to Beckett's. The pitch overmatched his catcher this spring. One big league team ranks the 6-foot-5, 195-pound righthander the No. 1 prospect in the country. But even with all that going for him, a number of issues could push Neighborgall out of the first round. The most obvious is his association with Scott Boras and word that he wants a deal to rival the $7 million big league contract Beckett got three years ago. Scouts say it's not just money. Neighborgall has a good feel for pitching, but his command has wavered this spring because his mechanics have rough edges. He also missed all of 2001 with a strained back, cause for further concern. If a team doesn't meet Neighborgall's price tag, he'll attend Georgia Tech.
Russ Adams, ss/2b
There's nothing flashy about Adams, the Cape Cod League's top prospect last summer, and his overall tools don't quite compare to those of South Carolina's Drew Meyer. Yet Adams should be no worse than the second-highest college position player drafted, possibly going to the Athletics at No. 16. He's an instinctive player who fits perfectly into the leadoff role because he works counts, makes contact, steals bases and always plays hard. He has a line-drive swing and could have a little pop once he gets stronger. He has played mostly shortstop for the Tar Heels this year, also seeing time at second and third base, as well as right field. His arm is average and likely will lead to a shift to second base as a pro, and he's steady and has soft hands. He's similar to Chris Burke, the Tennessee shortstop whom the Astros drafted 10th overall in 2001. Burke was a step quicker and has more juice in his bat, but Adams bats lefthanded and both have great makeup.
Dave Bush, rhp
Bush won't be the college player of the year, but there's arguably no more valuable player in the nation. A converted catcher who never pitched in high school, Bush takes the ball in save situations, tie games and even in close games lateand almost always gets the job done. He was out with a blood clot in his leg at the beginning of the year, losing 20-25 pounds as well as some velocity, and his fastball was back to its accustomed 91-94 mph by the end of the regular season. He's a warrior who pounds the strike zone with fastballs and sliders, and his deception and command make him that much tougher to hit. A fourth-round pick last year, Bush didn't sign with the Devil Rays when negotiations soured and instead became the best pitching prospect in the Cape Cod League. The top college senior in the draft, Bush probably won't sign for much less than slot money but still could be an attractive target to a team with several early picks, such as the Athletics or Cubs.
Projected Second- to Fifth-Round Picks
Kris Harvey, rhp
Former all-star closer Bryan Harvey made more of a name for himself in slow-pitch softball and had to attend tryout camps to get signed because he never got drafted. That fate won't befall his son, who was unknown coming into the year and drew scouts by throwing in the low 90s. Kris sometimes flattens out his fastball when he overthrows it, and he still needs secondary pitches, but his arm action and lanky frame (similar to Bryan's) are both positives. He also has promise as a catcher, but will be drafted as a pitcher. A high price tag could scare teams off. He has a college commitment to Clemson.
Larry Broadway, 1b
Like Adams and Bush, Broadway starred in the Cape Cod League last summer. Unlike them, he couldn't follow up with the kind of spring scouts thought he would have. He didn't match the power he showed with wood bats in games, though he still has put on a show in batting practice. He has been too passive at the plate, and at times his swing has looked long and slow. Scouts expected more than eight homers out of a 6-foot-4, 230-pounder, though to be fair he doesn't get much support from the rest of the Duke lineup. He moves well for his size, and his arm and hands are assets on defense.
Jared Burton, rhp
A late bloomer like Harvey, Burton had sporadic success in his first two years at Western Carolina. He got attention by excelling in outings against ACC powers Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech. Burton generally throws 90-91 mph and dials it up to 93-94 when used out of the bullpen. He has a strong frame at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, and batters have a tough time picking up his pitches delivered from a low three-quarters angle. He also throws strikes and has an effective, slurvy breaking ball.
John Maine, rhp
The 2001 Conference USA pitcher of the year, Maine saw his wins drop from 12 to five and his ERA rise from 3.82 to 5.61. Besides his performance, scouts also worry about his long arm action, which hindered his command and could lead to injury. He still has plenty of talent in his arm to tantalize a team in the first five rounds. The velocity on his fastball actually improved, rising to 89-93 mph, and he has a loose 6-foot-4, 185-pound build. His slider reached 88-89 mph last fall, though it flattened out this spring as his mechanics went awry. Maine seemed to be getting back on track when he one-hit Cincinnati and fanned 13 in seven innings, before he gave up a total of 15 runs in his final two starts.
Others to Watch
Former Liberty RHP Josh Rupe transferred to Louisburg JC, where he has shown off an explosive 88-94 mph fastball and a plus curveball. He has poor mechanics, but his stuff could sneak him into the top five rounds . . . The first school in the state to have two players drafted in 2002 should be Graham High. LHP Brandon Perry is just 5-foot-10 and has an 85-88 mph fastball, but he has an above-average breaking ball and has racked up several high-strikeouts games. RHP Nick Starnes has a better arm, working from 87-91 mph, but less pitchability . . . OF Nic Carter is one of the better athletes in North Carolina. Hes a 6-foot-3, 185-pound switch-hitter who was an all-West Virginia selection as a high school basketball player. He set Campbells stolen-base record with 31 in 2001 and broke it again this year with 32 . . . RHPs Brian Grant and M.J. Hurley and C Jake Smith were drawing a lot of late interest as the draft approached. Grant, who doubles as a shortstop and closer, has size (6-foot-4, 190 pounds), a 90-93 mph fastball and a plus slider. Hurley had thrown 83-85 mph before vaulting to 92 mph this spring and leading his high school team to 20 straight wins. He also has a plus body at 6-foot-5 and 207 pounds. Smith, a high school quarterback, is an athletic catcher with size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) and strength . . . RHP Michael Fratoe has touched 92 mph but lacks command of his secondary stuff . . . SS Calvin Hayes has been compared to both North Carolina native Ray Durham and Terry Pendleton. Hell have to move to second base or the outfielder, but he can run and has a solid bat . . . Russ Adams and Larry Broadway arent the only talented lefthanded college hitters in North Carolina. OF Brian Wright always seems to get the barrel of the bat on the ball, though he has just average power and is a marginal left fielder. He has enjoyed four excellent offensive seasons at North Carolina State. 1B-OF Ryan Johnson has a compact stroke and power to all fields. He may be able to handle the outfield as a pro . . . Adam Kalkhof commands attention because hes a 6-foot-6, 220-pound lefthander. Despite his size, his fastball is mediocre and he survives with good offspeed stuff . . . RHP Thomas Benton is rail-thin at 6-foot-4 and 165 pounds, yet he already throws 88-91 mph. If he gets stronger, its easy to see him reaching the mid-90s . . . Three of Adams Tar Heels teammates could crack the first 10 rounds. RHP Scott Autrey, who has an 88-92 mph fastball, will need to get into better shape and refine his secondary stuff. OF Adam Greenberg is a poor mans Lenny Dykstra, but at 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds he might be seen as more of a senior sign for 2003. 3B-RHP Chris Maples is having one of the best two-way years in college baseball. A career .290 hitter with nine homers in his first three seasons, he batted .346-22-68 during the regular season. In his first shot at pitching, he had a 2.08 ERA and four saves. Though hes just slightly bigger than Greenberg, Maples throws 91-93 mph and owns a tight slider . . . OF Blair Waggett is one of the drafts fastest players, able to run the 60-yard dash in 6.4 seconds. But all of his other tools are questionable.
TENNESSEE **Last year, three different colleges produced first-round picks (Middle Tennessee State's Dewon Brazelton, Cumberland's Chris Smith, Tennessee's Chris Burke) while the state's high schools were barren. This year, the situation is reversed. The college landscape is bleak and the high schools are much stronger, even with one-time top prospect Conor Lalor sidelined with elbow discomfort.
1. Matt Cain, rhp, Houston HS, Collierville
2. Josh Bell, c/rhp, North Side HS, Jackson
3. Joseph Hunter, of, Germantown HS
4. B.J. Church, rhp, Soddy Daisy HS, Hixson
5. Mark Hollimon, rhp, Germantown HS
6. Jon Crosby, rhp, Christian Brothers HS, Memphis
7. Adam Howard, rhp, Ooltewah HS
8. Mark Wright, 1b/of, Germantown HS, Cordova
9. Blake Owen, rhp, East Robertson HS, Cross Plains
10. Adam Larson, rhp, Middle Tennessee State
11. Justin Sims, of, Middle Tennessee State
12. David Grigsby, rhp, Tennessee Tech
13. Kyle Norrid, 3b, Germantown HS
14. Marshall Nisbett, rhp/of, Middle Tennessee State
15. Conor Lalor, rhp, Houston HS, Germantown
16. Bubbie Buzachero, rhp, Tennessee Tech
17. Karl Nonemaker, of, Vanderbilt
18. Matt Taylor, lhp, Antioch HS, Nashville
19. Warner Jones, ss, Montgomery Bell Academy, Nashville
20. Ryan Mullins, lhp, Father Ryan HS, Nashville
Projected First-Round Picks
Matt Cain, rhp
Even if his teammate Conor Lalor hadn't gone down with an elbow injury, Cain would have surpassed him as the state's top prospect. He has gotten better with every start, throwing his fastball from 88-94 mph and his plus curveball at 76-77. At 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, he has plenty of room for projection, and his aggressive style and makeup are further assets. He'll probably go somewhere from the sandwich area to the second round, which should be plenty high enough to divert him from attending college at Memphis.
Projected Second- to Fifth-Round Picks
Josh Bell, c
Bell shows promise as an offensive catcher, provided he can handle the duties behind the plate. He's versatile and athletic, handling several positions for his high school team. And he has plenty of arm strength, drawing interest as a pitcher because he can touch 92-93 mph and flashes a quality breaking ball. Bell just needs to be a little more active and aggressive as a catcher. He has power and has shown he can drive the ball with wood bats. He'll benefit from the shortage of catchers in this year's draft.
Others to Watch
The biggest concentration of talent in the state comes at Germantown, a national high school power. As usual, Germantowns players are college-oriented and tough signs. The best prospect on the Red Devils is toolsy OF Joseph Hunter (Mississippi State recruit), whose bat came alive at the East Coast Professional Showcase last summer and has stayed potent this spring. RHP Mark Hollimon (Mississippi) isnt big and has a short arm action, but he throws 88-91 mph and has a hammer curve. He could be a star college pitcher if he doesnt sign. 1B-OF Mark Wright (Mississippi) is stronger than Hunter and has a very good arm, but he doesnt have as much speed as Hunter. 3B Kyle Norrid (Tennessee) is a throwback player who played well in front of scouts last year. Theres still a little question on his power . . . RHP B.J. Church got a high grade from the Major League Scouting Bureau early in the year, but proved to be somewhat overrated. Hes projectable at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, but hes also very raw. He threw 88-91 early, then got up to 92-93 as scouts began to arrive to see him, then tailed off. His delivery is very rough and he could benefit from spending at least a year in junior college . . . RHPs Jon Crosby and Blake Owen are built along the lines of Church. Crosby has the most polish, but his arm isnt as loose as scouts would like. His fastball has ranged from 85 to 92 mph. Owen throws 88-90 mph and has a hard slider, but he has no feel for an offspeed pitch and his mechanics arent smooth . . . RHP Adam Howard helped himself by pitching well in a matchup against Church. At 6-foot-6 hes more projectable, but Howard doesnt have the same stuff. He throws 87-90 mph but Churchs breaking ball is better . . . RHP Adam Larson transferred from Mississippi State to Middle Tennessee State and dropped 30 pounds down to 230, but he still struggled. He can reach 93-94 mph and sits at 90-92, but he went 3-7, 5.01 as opponents hit .310 off him . . . Two other Blue Raiders who should get drafted are OF Justin Sims and RHP-OF Marshall Nisbett. Sims hasnt drawn as much overall interest as Larson, but the clubs that are in on him like him a lot. He led Middle Tennessee State in the triple-crown categories at .387-11-53, runs well and might move to the infield as a pro. Despite standing just 5-foot-9, Nisbett has a lightning arm that delivers 93-94 mph fastballs and hard breaking stuff. He went 0-4, 6.08 as a reliever because his command is erratic, and may get drafted as an outfielder because he can hit, run and throw . . . RHP Bubbie Buzachero entered 2002 as the states top college prospect, but he got kicked off the Tennessee Tech team. Though he has an 88-93 mph fastball, a hard slider and plus command, at 5-foot-11 he probably wont get much better. RHP David Grigsby, his former teammate, may get picked first because he throws 90-92 mph, also has good breaking stuff and is two inches taller . . . Tennessees top high school prospect in the preseason also took a tumble. RHP Conor Lalor was better than Matt Cain across the board, throwing a low-90s sinker with with ease and showing a more developed body (6-foot-3, 195 pounds). Lalor was shut down in March with elbow discomfort and will head to South Carolina if he doesnt sign . . . LHP Ryan Mullins would rank much higher on the Tennessee list had he not torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last November. Long and lean at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, he reminds some scouts of Expos prospect Rich Rundels, a Tennessee high school lefty drafted in the third round by the Red Sox in 1999 . . . OF Karl Nonemakers batting average has dropped in each of his years at Vanderbilt, from .415 to .393 to .328 to .321. He has speed and is a decent leadoff hitter with good instincts . . . LHP Matt Taylor piqued interest when his fastball jumped from 85-86 mph to 89-90, but he didnt throw as well once scouts came in . . . SS Warner Jones is a plus runner with some surprising pop, but hes just 5-foot-10 and seems destined for Vanderbilt.
ALABAMA ***The state's hopes of producing a college first-rounder for the third consecutive year faded when South Alabama righthander Eric Thomas came down with shoulder problems in March. He'll still be Alabama's top pick in an ordinary year. As with many areas around the nation in 2002, the high school talent outstrips the college crop.
1. Eric Thomas, rhp, South Alabama
2. Jake Baker, rhp, Holtville HS, Wetumpka
3. Allen Ponder, rhp, Lee Scott Academy, Auburn
4. Danny Forrer, lhp, Jeff Davis HS, Montgomery
5. Tyler Jones, of, McGill-Toolen HS, Mobile
6. Jeff Butts, of, Daphne HS
7. Lance Cormier, rhp, Alabama
8. Mike Mueller, rhp, Auburn
9. Jonathan Williams, rhp, Opelika HS
10. Scott McClanahan, of, Alabama
11. Evan Bush, inf/rhp, Southside HS, Rainbow City
12. Jeremy Brown, c, Alabama
13. Chris Dennis, rhp/3b, Bob Jones HS, Madison
14. Ryan Mulhern, of, South Alabama
15. Eric Brandon, rhp, Auburn
16. Sam Smith, rhp, South Alabama
17. Tom Brice, 1b/lhp, Faulkner State CC
18. Jonathan Schuerholz, 3b, Auburn
19. Bobby Huddleston, of, Auburn
20. Shane Sanders, rhp, Alabama
Projected First-Round Picks
Projected Second- to Fifth-Round Picks
Eric Thomas, rhp
Thomas spent his first two college seasons at Division II New Haven (Conn.), where he worked three innings, and Briarcliffe (N.Y.) JC, where he was drafted in the 11th round by the Tigers after reaching 93 mph. At 6-foot-9, he's able to throw on a downward plane that's tough on hitters. He looked like a possible first-round pick early this year when he came out throwing 96 mph and showing a late-breaking curveball, but he came down with shoulder tendinitis and was sidelined for eight weeks. He has been given a clean bill of healthy by Dr. James Andrews, who examined him and found no structural damage. But Thomas hasn't thrown as well since returning, and while he's intriguing, some scouts question his secondary stuff and his ability to move quickly through the minors.
Jake Baker, rhp
Baker has a high ceiling and needs some polish. He has a strong body (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and a projectable fastball that occasionally reaches the low 90s. He also throws an effective cutter and changeup, and his command already is a strong suit. He'll have to work on a breaking ball, but all of the ingredients are there. If he plays for Georgia, Baker probably will see time in the outfield in addition to pitching. He shows promise as a switch-hitter.
Allen Ponder, rhp
Ponder is another product of the successful East Cobb program in suburban Atlanta. He won the championship game of the Connie Mack World Series last summer and spent the winter earning all-state honors as a basketball forward. The top prospect in Alabama's recruiting class, Ponder is a power pitcher who throws in the low 90s with plenty of life on his fastball. His size (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), athleticism and arm strength make him attractive to scouts. Any worries about competing at a low high school classification are dispelled by his performance with East Cobb.
Danny Forrer, lhp
The sleeper among Alabama high schoolers, Forrer has nice stuff and projection for a prep lefthander. At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, he already can reach the 90s with his fastball, which usually sits at 86-88 mph. He has a nice, easy delivery and a potential above-average breaking ball. He didn't sign with a school during the early signing period, but since has committed to Auburn.
Others to watch
OFs Tyler Jones and Jeff Butts could make immediate impacts at Mississippi State if they dont sign. A high school quarterback, Jones offers power, 6.7-second speed in the 60-yard dash and a strong arm. Hes still not fully developed at 6-feet-2 and 170 pounds. Butts is the best high school player in the state and could be another Steve Finley. His bat, makeup and all-around tools are all attractive, but he has more of a college body at 6 feet and 170 pounds . . . RHP Lance Cormier led the Southeastern Conference in ERA last year, when he declined to sign with the Astros as a 10th-round pick. He might go a few rounds higher as a senior sign in 2002, but he slumped after winning his first eight decisions. The owner of several Alabama career records, he has just an average fastball, but he can throw it, his curveball and changeup (his best pitch) for strikes at any time in the count . . . Two other very attractive senior signs off the Crimson Tide are OF Scott McClanahan and C Jeremy Brown. McClanahan always has been a physical player with all-around tools, and this year he finally started to hit. Browns body (5-foto-10, 208 pounds) isnt pretty, but hes the best catcher in the Southeastern Conference and could be at least a solid big league backup . . . Primarily an outfielder in the past, RHP Mike Mueller got scouts buzzing by throwing 92-93 mph. He has a fresh arm and a 6-foot-5, 222-pound build, but hell need some refinement . . . RHP Jonathan Williams also has a strong body at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. Hes raw and might be a draft-and-follow, but he projects to throw 92-94 mph down the road . . . INF-RHP Evan Bush escaped with minor injuries after being hit by a line drive while pitching in March. Hes athletic and can swing the bat . . . One scout calls RHP-3B Chris Dennis the best high school pitcher in the state. He has an upper-80s sinker and a late-breaking slider, and he possesses tremendous pitchability and competitiveness. A top student, he almost certainly will attend Auburn . . . OF Ryan Mulhern should get drafted in the first 10-15 rounds because of his power. Hell be a left fielder or first baseman as a pro. Another South Alabama standout, RHP Sam Smith, surprisingly beat out sophomore Clark Girardeau to become the Jaguars Friday-night starter. The grandson of former big leaguer Bob Smith, Sam throws three pitches for strikes, including a fastball that sits at 91 mph . . . Australian 1B-LHP Tom Brice hasnt attracted much attention, but one college recruiter says Brice is the best hitter he saw all spring. He also gets his fastball up to 91 mph . . . Jonathan Schuerholz, the son of the Braves general manager, has moved from shortstop to third base this year at Auburn. Most clubs see him as a senior sign for 2003, but Atlanta might take him in the first 10 rounds. Hes an overachiever with good speed and leadership skills.
MISSISSIPPI **It has been three years since the state produced a first-rounder (Matt Ginter in 1999) and the drought won't end this year. The 2002 crop also lacks the impact of last year's group, which included two of the nation's top college freshmen in Mississippi outfielder Seth Smith and Alabama lefthander Taylor Tankersley. Surprisingly, the first college to have two players selected should be Jackson State.
1. Clay Dirks, lhp, Hernando HS
2. Anthony Pearson, rhp, Jackson State
3. T.J. Beam, rhp, Mississippi
4. Jon Papelbon, rhp, Mississippi State
5. Brae Wright, lhp/1b, Southaven HS
6. Mike Goss, of, Jackson State
7. Stephen Head, 1b/lhp, Hillcrest Christian HS, Raymond
8. Anthony McLin, c/1b, McLaurin HS, Florence
9. Van Pope, rhp/ss, Terry HS, Jackson
10. Brian Pettway, 1b/rhp, Warren Central HS, Vicksburg
11. Kenard Springer, ss/c, Nettleton HS
12. Shea Douglas, lhp, Southern Mississippi
13. Stephen Gostkowski, rhp, Madison Central HS, Madison
14. Pete Montrenes, rhp, Mississippi
15. Tanner Brock, rhp, Mississippi State (Control: Reds)
16. Ryan Carroll, rhp, Mississippi State (Control: Red Sox)
17. Burney Hutchinson, of, Mississippi
18. Corey Carter, of, West Point HS
19. Chris Young, rhp, Mississippi State
20. Josh Christian, 1b, Mississippi
Projected First-Round Picks
Projected Second- to Fifth-Round Picks
Clay Dirks, lhp
Dirks stands head and shoulders above the rest of Mississippi's high school pitchers, and he has held that status for a while. He first appeared on the state prep scene as a 13-year-old eighth-grader, striking out 15 in five innings when a roster shortage pressed him into duty. He's already huge at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, and his large hands and fingers help him spin a plus power curveball. He has thrown as hard as 92 mph, and has good command and feel for pitching. Dirks also plays first base and the outfield and has tape-measure power. One of Louisiana State's top recruits, he's expected to be drafted by the end of the third round.
Anthony Pearson, rhp
Jackson State should produce the state's first college pitcher, as well as the first college position player (speedy outfielder Mike Goss). Pearson will go high based on potential and not on results. He's raw, capable of throwing in the low 90s with a hard downer curveball, though he has little command of either pitch and doesn't have a changeup. He went 4-7, 6.22 with 67 walks and 95 strikeouts in 77 innings as a junior, a comedown from his 9-1, 4.66 performance in 2001. But because he has a live, loose arm and a lanky 6-foot-3 frame, he reminds some scouts of Dave Stewart. Pearson will be a risky pick, but the payoff could be huge.
T.J. Beam, rhp
Beam made a successful transition from juco ball (Scottsdale, Ariz., CC) to the SEC and from the rotation to the bullpen, though both he and his team stumbled down the stretch. He had one of the best arms in the conference this year, throwing 91-94 mph and using his 6-foot-7, 210-pound frame to generate a tough downward plane. His curveball and changeup are average at best, a main reason he struggled when the Rebels tried to start him at the beginning of the season.
Jon Papelbon, rhp
A draft-eligible redshirt sophomore, Papelbon generated interest by throwing in the low 90s virtually every time out of the Mississippi State bullpen this spring. His fastball also stands out because of its hard run and boring action. Papelbon has never started a game in college and will be used as a reliever in pro ball. He doesn't have much of a feel for his second pitch, a slurvy breaking ball, and he's not a finished product. With his fastball and build (6-foot-3, 218 pounds), he exudes strength.
Others to Watch
The University of Mississippi has corralled three of the states top high school players and will sweat out the draft on them. LHP-1B Brae Wright is oh so projectable at 6-foot-5 and 175 pounds. Hes a strike machine with an 86-88 mph fastball and a quality changeup. 1B-LHP Stephen Head reminds some scouts of Seth Smith, a former Hillcrest High star who has been a two-sport standout for the Rebels as a freshman. Head is the best player in the state, but his performance outstrips his tools. He projects more as a pro pitcher at this point, even with his fastball sitting in the mid-80s. Head and 1B-RHP Brian Pettway are the states top high school hitters. Pettway doesnt run well but does have a strong arm . . . OF Mike Goss, a wide receiver and return specialist on Jackson States football team, might be the only college position player in Mississippi to get picked on the first day of the draft. Hes just 5-foot-10, but he has exceptional speed and some gap power . . . C-1B Anthony McLin is arguably the states best high school power hitter, but its unlikely hell remain a catcher at the next level . . . RHP-SS Van Pope is athletic and has pitched into the low 90s this spring. Ticketed for Meridian (Miss.) CC, he could be a draft-and-follow. SS-C Kenard Springer has been compared to Brewers shortstop prospect Bill Hall, who was drafted in the sixth round out of the same high school in 1998. Springer, also a high school star as a football tailback and basketball guard, has fine speed and arm strength . . . The first Southern Mississippi pitcher to reach double digits in victories since 1991, LHP Shea Douglas did it with a plus-plus changeup that runs to the left side of the plate. His fastball usually works at a pedestrian 85-86 mph, but he gets a lot of movement and also has a useful curveball . . . RHP Stephen Gostkowski has an athletic 6-foot-3, 190-pound body and kicked for his high school football team. He can touch 90 mph and has the makings of three decent pitches . . . RHP Pete Montrenes was one of the top pitchers in the Southeastern Conference in 2001, when he turned down the Athletics as a 17th-round pick. He hasnt thrown nearly as well this year and still lacks a plus big league pitch, with the possible exception of his curveball . . . Beyond Jon Papelbon, Mississippi States next two best prospects are under control to major league clubs as fifth-year seniors. RHP Tanner Brock (Reds) knows how to pitch but doesnt blow scouts away with his 87-89 mph sinker and slider. RHP Ryan Carroll (Red Sox), who joined the Bulldogs on a basketball scholarship, never has pitched much because he doesnt have good feel. He hasnt shown the 93-94 mph velocity he did a year ago, but its in there somewhere in his 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame . . . More than one observer compares hard-nosed OF Burney Hutchinson to a young Steve Finley. He can sign as a free agent because hes a fifth-year senior who wasnt drafted in 2001 . . . Athletic OF Corey Carter was the top-ranked high school position player in Mississippi entering the season, but he dropped after a poor spring.
PUERTO RICO **The talent is thin in Puerto Rico beyond outfielder Xavier Arroyo. Few high-level scouts bothered to attend the annual Major League Scouting Bureau workout in early May. One of the island's more interesting prospects is first baseman Freddie Thon, son of Astros scout Frankie Thon and nephew of ex-big leaguer Dickie Thon. A top-hitting prospect, Thon likely will attend Villanova rather than sign.
1. Xavier Arroyo, of, Antilles HS, Fort Buchanan
2. Jesus Maldonado, rhp, Manuel M. Villa HS, Humacao
3. Kelvin Garay, lhp, Santa Cruz HS, Trujillo Alta
4. Rafael Mendez, 3b, Notre Dame HS, Caguas
5. Luis Rivera, ss, Calvin School, Carolina
6. Miguel Donate, 3b, Morell HS, Vega Baja
7. Rene Quintana, ss, Patria la Torre HS, San Sebastian
8. Luis Cruz, c, Campeche HS, San Lorenzo
9. Freddie Thon, 1b, Baldwin HS, Guaynabo
Projected First-Round Picks
Projected Second- to Fifth-Round Picks
Xavier Arroyo, of
Easily the best prospect in Puerto Rico, Arroyo has solid all-around tools but isn't in the class of the island's most recent first-round picks, outfielders Alexis Rios and Miguel Negron of the Blue Jays. A switch-hitter, Arroyo is stronger from the right side of the plate but does has some pop as a lefty. He covers a lot of ground in center field and has average speed.
Others to Watch
RHP Jesus Maldonado could go in the third round or the 10th round, depending on the club. He has thrown as hard as 92 mph this year . . . 3B Rafael Mendez is an offensive-minded converted catcher. There arent many quality backstops available in the draft, so some team might try to move him back behind the plate . . . LHP Kelvin Garay did well in the early May showcases on the island, displaying an 88-91 mph fastball . . . SS Luis Rivera didnt perform well at the Major League Scouting Bureau workout. A contact hitter, he may have to move to second base. He attended high school at the Florida Air Academy in Melbourne in 2000 then moved back to Puerto Rico . . . 3B Miguel Donates power received a 70 grade from the MLSB, but then he didnt hit any balls out during batting practice at the Bureaus workout . . . SS Rene Quintana has the best hands of any Puerto Rican infielder but he lacks speed . . . 1B Freddie Thon is the son of Astros scout Frankie and the nephew of Dickie, a former all-star shortstop for the club. Thon has plus bat speed and power but is seen as a one-dimensional player and seems committed to attending Villanova.