SOUTH CAROLINA ***
1. *Mike Paradis, rhp, Clemson U.
It's been a breakthrough season for RHP Mike Paradis, a seventh-round pick of the Athletics in 1996 who enjoyed little success his first two seasons at Clemson. He's always had a quality arm but lacked maturity and command until this season. Everything began to fall into place last summer in the Cape Cod League, and he was undefeated until the last week of the regular season. His fastball routinely clocks at 91-93 mph and touches 95. He made major strides with his power slider. He also refined his changeup, a solid third pitch . . . A handsome payoff is at hand for SS Brian Roberts, a tireless worker and self-made player. He wasn't recruited out of high school by any college except North Carolina, where his father Mike coached. He starred there for two years and continued his outstanding play this spring at South Carolina, where he transferred after his father was forced out at UNC. Roberts' strengths are his intangibles. He has outstanding instincts in the field and on the bases. He swings the bat well from both sides and broke the Southeastern Conference record for stolen bases, set a year ago by South Carolina's Mike Curry. He led the nation by a wide margin. Roberts is unusually strong for his size. He will need to put more balls on the ground to better use his speed in pro ball. Though he has worked hard to make himself a quality shortstop, not everyone sees him at that position. He made more believers this spring by showing plus arm strength . . . South Carolina recruited SS Drew Meyer with the idea that he would succeed Roberts at shortstop, but Meyer may turn out to be first-round pick himself. He is an exciting offensive player who enhanced his standing in the draft when he starred for Team USA's junior squad in the continental qualifying tournament in April, held in Venezuela. He played center field there in deference to Pennsylvania's Josh Wilson, but is considered a shortstop. While Meyer's infield actions and arm are questionable, his above-average speed will play anywhere. As a hitter, he is more of a bunter and slasher . . . Clemson's reputation as a pitching pipeline remains intact. Not only will Paradis be one of the first college pitchers drafted, but RHP Ryan Mottl and LHP Chris Heck should quickly follow suit . . . Heck is one of the more intriguing players in the draft. He had almost no success in three years at St. Joseph's, but teased scouts with a spectacular summer in the Cape Cod League in 1997. Heck floundered again with the Hawks last year and was drafted in the 10th round. He transferred to Clemson, where he was reunited with Kevin O'Sullivan, his pitching coach from the Cape. He flashed his Cape form down the stretch after O'Sullivan worked out a mechanical flaw in Heck's delivery and has attracted renewed interest. He throws a 91-92-mph fastball and power slider at 80-84. Of equal importance, his arm held up well when he relieved on back-to-back nights. Heck projects in the first two rounds on the basis of stuff; he may slide a round or two because of his inconsistent past . . . Mottl was a top prospect as a freshman at Clemson. He has slipped the last two years. He lost the effectiveness of his split-finger and has replaced that pitch with a curve. His fastball ranges from 88-92 mph. He struggled with that pitch earlier this year while trying to change his mechanics to get better movement . . . Though senior RHP Brian Wiley won't be the first college pitcher in the state to be drafted, he certainly has been the most dominant over an extended period. He finished second in the nation with 159 strikeouts in 1998 and was on pace to reach that total again--yet he has never been drafted. Scouts have always been leery of Wiley's 5-foot-10 frame and maximum-effort delivery . . . After Meyer, the South Carolina high school ranks thin out quickly . . . LHP Josh Martin has helped himself the most this spring. His fastball touches 90 and he has a feel for a curve . . . RHP Allen Legette has created enough interest to go in the first five or six rounds. He has a 90-91-mph fastball, hard slider and powerful pitcher's body. He has not performed to the level his stuff projects.
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