1. David Mead, rhp, Soddy Daisy HS, Chattanooga
There isn't a sure first-round pick in Tennessee this year. The best hope was SS Brennan King, an outstanding hitting prospect compared by scouts to Travis Fryman and Dean Palmer. King missed much of the season after hurting his arm when he was not properly warmed up to pitch and felt a pop in his shoulder. He returned to shortstop by the end of the season but his arm strength had not fully returned, possibly knocking him down to the second round. King, a Mississippi State signee, projects more as a third baseman. He will hit no matter where he plays. His hands, arm and power grade out average or better. Speed is his only below-average tool; he gets to first in 4.5 to 4.6 seconds. If he could run faster, he might have been one of the top 10 picks in the draft . . . Six-foot-4, 190-pound RHP David Mead may replace King as Tennessee's first pick. He came out of nowhere this spring, similar to RHP Marcus Sents, an unheralded second-round pick a year ago. Mead was clocked from 93-95 mph late in the season with a plus slider and plus change, and he does it with a loose, free arm action. His mechanics are raw and he lacks command of all his pitches . . . From a talent standpoint, 6-foot-6 LHP Richard Rundels heads up the next group of high school players. His father Gary is the baseball coach at Carson-Newman College and may encourage him to fulfill a scholarship at Tennessee. Rundels has an ideal pitcher's body, quality arm action and three workable pitches--an 87-88-mph fastball, curve and change. Mead's ceiling is higher . . . Tennessee colleges have produced their share of first-round picks in the last few years, but the ranks are thin this year, particularly in Knoxville . . . Six-foot-6, 225-pound RHP Mike Byrd has the size and arm to command first- or second-round interest, but he backed off his fastball 2-3 mph this year as a tradeoff to pitching with better command and getting more movement on his pitches. He was a consistent 89-90 and touched 92. He can throw four pitches for strikes and gets most of his strikeouts on curveballs . . . LHP Josh Stewart made the greatest leap forward. He had little command of his pitches for three years but was a totally different pitcher this year. He took a little speed off his fastball in order to begin throwing quality strikes.
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