1. Jon Rauch, rhp, Morehead State U.
If there's talent in a thin Kentucky draft crop, it's in the pitching ranks . . . Six-foot-10 RHP Jon Rauch showed the potential to become a first-round pick after his MVP performance last summer in the Shenandoah Valley League, where he sported a 95-mph fastball and struck out 126 in 85 innings. He'll still be the highest pick in the state despite struggling to reach even 90-91 this year. He was not in shape at the start of the season and struggled throughout the spring to regain velocity. His slider was better, however, and he learned to pitch inside. If Rauch goes before the fourth or fifth round, it will be off his summer performance . . . RHP Rick Cercy, who topped out at 94 mph this spring, is a more finished product than Rauch. He's also 10 inches shorter and less projectable. His strikeout ratio of 13.1 per nine innings was fourth-best in Division I . . . Ben Shaffar and Nathan Kent had their moments for Kentucky. Shaffar was inconsistent but projects as the higher draft because he throws harder and has a livelier ball. He is also considered more signable. The 6-foot-6 Kent has a good 12-to-6 hammer curve and better command but is also a better student; with a year of eligibility remaining, he may slide a bit . . . Academics also may delay 6-foot-3, 225-pound RHP Joe Blanton's plans to join the pro ranks. Some teams consider him the state's top prep talent. He is committed to attending Kentucky. Blanton's father played high school baseball with Wildcats coach Keith Madison . . . Six-foot-4, 180-pound RHP Mike Davis, whose brother John pitched for the Royals and Padres from 1987-90, should be the first prep player drafted despite a rocky spring caused by reporting late to baseball from basketball. He picked up his pace later in the spring with 17- and 19-strikeout games . . . Six-foot-6 RHP Mike Eilers also stumbled out of the blocks. His velocity was only 84-87 mph, down from 90 in the fall.
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