Top 200 Draft Prospects
Stephen StrasburgSan Diego State RHPNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 220 | Yr: Jr. | Age: 20
Scouting Report: In the history of the draft, no prospect has received as much predraft hype and publicity as Strasburg—and the attention is warranted. His combination of stuff, pitching savvy and command make him a once-in-a-generation phenomenon. Between spreads in national magazines, television features and glowing articles in major newspapers, Strasburg has had a stunning junior season for the Aztecs. A relatively low-profile recruit, he has improved by leaps and bounds both physically and mentally as a college player. He closed as a freshman and BA ranked him as the New England Collegiate League's No. 1 prospect in 2007, and he emerged as a dominant starter in 2008, highlighted by a 23-strikeout effort against Utah. He pitched both for USA Baseball's college national team and then on the Olympic team last summer, the lone amateur ever to win a spot on a pro Team USA roster. He lost to Cuba in the Olympic semifinal, and that's the last time he has lost a game. His 2009 statistics defy belief for a player competing at the major college level. After a no-hitter against Air Force, he was 11-0, 1.24, with 164 strikeouts against 17 walks in 87 innings. He had allowed just 48 hits this season, for a .161 opponent average. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Strasburg grabs your attention first with his sensational raw velocity. In his first start of the season, his first six pitches registered 98-99 mph, and he touched 100 and 101 later in the season. Of course, raw velocity is no guarantee of major league success, but Strasburg has much more than that. His hard, slurvy curveball is an 81-82 mph hitter's nightmare. Not since Tim Lincecum has one hurler had both the best fastball and the best curve in the same draft. Represented by Scott Boras Corp., Strasburg will no doubt engage in protracted negotiations, and predraft rumors indicated his demands could go as high as $50 million or that he could try a side trip to Japan to make himself a free agent. Barring something unforeseen, though, he will likely sign right at the Aug. 15 deadline and should command a guarantee in the $12 million-$15 million range. There's no doubt that Strasburg is the best college pitching prospect since Mark Prior came out of Southern California in 2001. Prior's career illustrates that no amateur pitcher is guaranteed long-term professional success, but Strasburg is the closest to a sure thing that scouts have ever seen. Major league organizations may not see a prospect like Strasburg for another 20 or 30 years, so the Nationals will not let him pass with the No. 1 pick.
Dustin AckleyNorth Carolina 1BNotes:
B/T: L/R | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 184 | Yr: Jr. | Age: 21
Scouting Report: Ackley played at a 1-A high school against modest competition, and while area scouts knew about him they couldn't pull the trigger three years ago. Their loss was North Carolina's gain, as Ackley is in the midst of his third consecutive .400 season. The 2007 BA Freshman of the Year, Ackley has the best pure swing and pure bat in the '09 draft class, and maybe the best this decade. He's also a 70 runner (on the 20-80 scale) underway and should be a top-of-the-order, base-stealing threat in pro ball. Ackley has a disciplined approach and makes hitting look easy thanks to his advanced athleticism. He's balanced at the plate and has amazing hand-eye coordination, getting the barrel of the bat to the hitting zone quickly and leaving it there as long as possible. After hitting 17 home runs in his first two seasons, he was tied for second in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 16, and scouts grade his raw power as average, if not a tick above. His lone below-average tool is his arm, which he injured as a prep senior while pitching. He has played primarily first base at North Carolina and had Tommy John surgery at the end of the summer of 2008. He made two starts in the outfield in mid-May, and most scouts project him as a future center fielder and potential plus defender. He's a solid-average defender at first base if he winds up there. Scouts struggle to come up with comparisons because he's such a unique player. If he becomes a batting champion and premium leadoff man as a pro, he'll become a player others are compared to.
Donavan TateCartersville (Ga.) HS OFNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 200 | Yr: Sr. | Age: 18
Scouting Report: Widely regarded as the top prep position player in the class entering the spring, Tate has done little to dissuade scouts of that notion. He earned that status with premium athletic ability, graceful actions, good bloodlines and emerging baseball skills. Tate showed his athleticism during a rigorous summer, playing for USA Baseball's 18U team, and in the Aflac and Under Armour games. The long summer prompted him to consider quitting football, but his father Lars played football at Georgia and in the NFL, and Tate has committed to play both football and baseball at North Carolina. So Tate changed his mind after one week and returned to the gridiron. His two-sport stardom has left his skills in need of some polish, particularly his hitting ability. He can get pull-happy and doesn't have a natural feel for hitting, but that doesn't significantly limit his ceiling. He has earned comparisons to fellow Georgia prep Jeff Francoeur for his athleticism, and has more feel for hitting than the Braves outfielder, with similar power potential. Tate has true bat speed and strength, and makes adjustments against better pitching. His other tools are outrageous: he's a plus-plus runner with Gold Glove potential in center field and a strong throwing arm that grades out above-average as well. Tate plays with supreme confidence that goes hand-in-hand with his well-above-average athletic ability. A Scott Boras Corp. client, Tate was considered a tough sign, and some teams wonder about his willingness to sign. Still, he remained near the top of every club's position-player board.
Kyle GibsonMissouri RHPNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-6 | Wt: 208 | Yr: Jr. | Age: 21
Scouting Report: For the third time in four years, Missouri will have a pitcher taken early in the first round. Gibson doesn't have the arm strength of Max Scherzer (2006, Diamondbacks) or Aaron Crow (2008, Nationals), but he may wind up being the best pitcher of the three. He relies on two-seam fastballs more than four-seamers, usually pitching at 88-91 mph with good sink and tailing action, though he can reach back for 94 mph when needed. He has two of the better secondary pitches in the draft, a crisp 82-85 mph slider and a deceptive changeup with fade that can generate swings and misses. All of his offerings play up because he has excellent command and pitchability. He repeats his smooth delivery easily, and his 6-foot-6, 208-pound frame allows him to throw on a steep downhill plane. If there's a knock on Gibson, it's that he hasn't added much velocity during his three years with the Tigers, but that hasn't stopped him from succeeding as soon as he stepped on campus. He led Team USA's college team with five wins last summer, including a victory in the gold-medal game at the the FISU World Championships. He is a lock to go in the first 10 picks.
Jacob TurnerWest- minster Academy, St. Louis. RHPNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 205 | Yr: Sr. | Age: 18
Scouting Report: Already considered a mid-first-round talent entering the season, Turner was generating serious momentum a month before the draft. He had edged ahead of Shelby Miller (Texas) and Zack Wheeler (Georgia) as the top high school righthander in the draft, and was gaining ground on Kyle Gibson as the best pitching prospect in Missouri. Whether his draft position will reflect that status remains to be seen, as he's advised by the Scott Boras Corp. and reportedly will seek to match the record guarantee given to a high school pitcher: $7 million for Josh Beckett (Marlins, 1999) and Rick Porcello (Tigers, 2007). While Turner isn't quite at the same level Beckett and Porcello were when they came out of high school, he's quite talented. The 6-foot-5, 205 pounder has such an easy three-quarters delivery that it makes his 92-94 mph fastball (which tops out at 98) seem even faster. He has good aptitude for spinning a big-breaking curveball, and he has the makings of a good changeup. All three pitches were working when he struck out five straight hitters at the Aflac All-American Game last summer. The biggest quibble with Turner is that he sometimes doesn't command his curveball, but his delivery is repeatable and he does a good job of staying on top of the pitch, so he should gain more consistency with experience. He has benefited from the tutelage of former big leaguers Andy Benes, Mike Matheny and Todd Worrell, who have sons who have played at Westminster Christian. Said Worrell, the team's pitching coach: "He's got the whole package . . . As a pitcher, he's 6-5 with a perfect pitcher's body and a live arm." Turner has committed to North Carolina, just like last year's premium prep pitcher from Missouri, Tim Melville did before signing with the Royals for $1.25 million.
Alex WhiteNorth Carolina RHPNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 200 | Yr: Jr. | Age: 20
Scouting Report: The Dodgers drafted White in the 14th round in 2006 and made a strong run to sign him, but he wound up at North Carolina, spending three seasons in the weekend rotation and emerging as the staff ace as a sophomore. White was electric for the Tar Heels out of the bullpen in the 2008 College World Series, sitting at 96 mph with excellent life on his fastball, and some scouts see him in that role. However, he has shown three plus pitches at times during his career, though not all at once in a somewhat inconsistent junior season. White's arm action varied a bit during the year, starting out a bit high and long in the back, and despite his excellent athleticism this caused him to struggle to command his fastball. The pitch touches the mid-90s and sits in the 91-94 mph range when White starts. His slider, a plus pitch at times, also has lacked consistency, but his split-finger fastball has supplanted it as his best secondary pitch. It has good depth and deception and neutralizes lefthanded hitters. As good as his stuff can be, White's competitiveness and athleticism may be better attributes. With more consistency he could become a front-of-the-rotation starter, though his command may preclude him from being a true big league ace.
Aaron CrowFort Worth Cats RHPNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 195 | Yr: Jr. | Age: 22
Scouting Report: Crow, then at Missouri, was the top righthander in last year's draft, and the Nationals were thrilled to get him with the ninth overall pick. But they never found any common ground in negotiations with his agents, Alan and Randy Hendricks, and the signing deadline passed with Crow seeking $4 million and turning down $3.5 million. Now he hopes to follow in the footsteps of former Tigers teammate Max Scherzer, who parlayed a stay in Fort Worth into a $4.3 million big league contract with the Diamondbacks. Crow had the best fastball package in the 2008 draft, with velocity (92-96 mph), hard sink, command and the ability to maintain it into the late innings. He showed the same heater in his first two exhibition starts with the Cats, and flashed the plus slider that overmatched college hitters. He's still regaining the sharp command he had in 2008, when he threw 43 consecutive scoreless innings at Missouri. Crow used his downtime to get stronger and to work on his changeup. There's some effort to his delivery, and some teams wonder if his mechanics and size (generously listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds) will make him more of a closer than a frontline starter. In either case, he should go in the first 10 picks again and shouldn't require much time in the minors.
Tyler MatzekCapistrano Valley HS, Mission Viejp, Calif. LHPNotes:
B/T: L/L | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 185 | Yr: Sr. | Age: 18
Scouting Report: Matzek was virtually unknown until a preseason scrimmage last year, when he squared off against righthander Gerritt Cole, who became a 2008 first-rounder and is now at UCLA. Matzek was fantastic, striking out five of six hitters in two innings as 40 scouts were crammed into the bleachers, whispering, "Who is this guy?" He's anonymous no more. He starred in the 2008 Aflac game and at showcases both nationally and in Southern California, and while he's committed to Oregon he could be the first high school player drafted. With a rare blend of quality stuff, pitching smarts and ease of delivery, he may be the best prep lefty from Southern California since Cole Hamels in 2002. Similar in build and style to Angels southpaw Joe Saunders, Matzek features a 90-93 mph fastball, which peaks at 94, as well as a sharp-breaking curveball. He has flashed a changeup and slider in the past, but had not used them much this spring. Several crosscheckers hoped to see a more advanced feel for pitching and sharper secondary stuff, and Matzek had a few indifferent outings this year, struggling with his command and experiencing a dip in velocity, perhaps due to a blister on his pitching hand, which has since healed. Matzek's arm action is wonderfully smooth, and the ball leaves with his hand with ease, though he has a tendency to open up too soon. With a nearly stiff front leg landing, his fastball will often sail up and out of the strike zone, but any flaws are considered correctable.
Tanner ScheppersSt. Paul Saints RHPNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 200 | Yr: Jr. | Age: 22
Scouting Report: Before Scheppers hurt his shoulder last April, he was on course to go in the first 10 picks of the 2008 draft. But the injury, initially reported as a stress fracture and later described as significant wear and tear, dropped him to 48th overall to the Pirates and caused him to miss Fresno State's run to a College World Series championship. Scheppers opted for rehab over surgery and worked out for Pittsburgh, but his stuff hadn't bounced back enough to warrant meeting his seven-figure asking price. He signed with the independent Saints last September. He began to excite scouts in preseason workouts at Golden West (Calif.) JC, displaying the mid-90s fastball and hard curveball he had before he got hurt. In his first two exhibition outings with St. Paul, Scheppers showed the same fastball and curve, though he battled his control. An athletic 6-foot-4, 200-pounder who initially signed with Fresno State as an infielder, Scheppers has good mechanics but sometimes rushes his delivery. "He's got the best arm action, delivery and stuff in this draft behind Strasburg, and it's a cleaner arm than Strasburg," one scouting director said. Scheppers is learning to harness his curveball and to throw an effective changeup. Though Dr. Lewis Yocum has given him a clean bill of health, teams considering Scheppers near the top of the draft still have some trepidation. He still should become a top-10 choice, a year later than expected.
Matthew PurkeKlein HS, Spring, Texas LHPNotes:
B/T: L/L | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 180 | Yr: Sr. | Age: 18
Scouting Report: Purke rivals Tyler Matzek as the best lefthanded pitching prospect in this draft. He already throws a 92-95 mph fastball and could throw harder as he adds strength to his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame. He backs up his heater with a hard slider that ranks among the best in the prep draft class. He doesn't have much experience throwing a changeup because he hasn't needed one. Last summer, Purke needed just nine pitches to work a perfect inning at the Aflac All-American Game and started the gold-medal game for Team USA at the World Junior Championship in Canada (albeit taking a 7-0 loss against Korea). Matzek has moved ahead of Purke for most clubs because he works with less effort. Purke throws from a low three-quarters angle that adds life and deception, but he has slinging action in his delivery. It's not violent, but it's not smooth either. Purke's stuff, track record and strong makeup combine to make him an upper-first-round talent, though teams still were trying to gauge his signability. If he follows through on his commitment to Texas Christian, he'd be eligible again as a sophomore in 2011.
Shelby MillerBrownwood (Texas) HS RHPNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 195 | Yr: Sr. | Age: 18
Scouting Report: No high school pitcher has a better fastball than Miller. At 94 mph, he tied for the highest velocity recorded at last summer's Area Code Games, and he has touched 96 this spring. He usually pitches at 92-93 mph, but his fastball has more than just velocity. It has tremendous life, it's deceptive because he has such an easy delivery and he does a good job of using his 6-foot-3, 205-pound frame to throw it downhill. Miller spins a solid curve that will be a plus pitch when he commands it more consistently. He has made strides with his changeup as well. He has sound mechanics and arm action, and a blue-collar work ethic. He's a good athlete who also starred in football, making the all-state 3-A second team as a tight end and punter in the fall. Miller is Texas A&M's top recruit, but he's expected to turn pro after going in the upper half of the first round.
Zack WheelerEast Paulding HS, Dallas, Ga. RHPNotes:
B/T: B/R | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 185 | Yr: Sr. | Age: 19
Scouting Report: Wheeler emerged last summer as the top pitcher in Georgia's East Cobb prep program and didn't let up this spring. He has a chance to be the well-regarded program's best starting pitcher ever, and he could allow Georgia to provide the top high school pitcher in the draft in consecutive seasons, following Ethan Martin (15th overall, Dodgers). Wheeler figures to go higher in the draft than fellow Georgia prep pitcher Ethan Martin did last year (15th overall) based on a picture-perfect projection body. Lean with long levers, Wheeler generates excellent arm speed and can produce mid-90s heat with his fastball, sitting in the low 90s. He has the athleticism and solid mechanics to produce average big league command. Wheeler pitches off his fastball and puts hitters away with a power breaking ball, most accurately called a slurve. It has late bite and depth, giving him a second plus pitch. Wheeler doesn't throw much of a changeup at this point. He's considered signable, having committed early to Kennesaw State with a fallback option of Chipola (Fla.) JC. His older brother Adam was a 13th-round pick in 2001 who spent four seasons in the Yankees system.
Grant GreenSouthern California SSNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 180 | Yr: Jr. | Age: 21
Scouting Report: Local area scouts have long been familiar with Green, who was drafted by the Padres in the 14th round in 2006 out of high school in Anaheim. Now 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, Green should move to the top of the first round this year, building on his terrific showing in the Cape Cod League last summer, where he was overwhelmingly chosen as the top prospect. He struggled early this season, perhaps due to a touch of draftitis as well as two nagging injuries: a rolled ankle and hand blisters. His average hovered near the Mendoza line early, but he rallied to .365/.436/.556 as the regular season wound down. After pounding nine homers in 2008, he had three this season. Potential five-tool middle infielders are rare at the college level, prompting comparisons to former Long Beach State stars Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria. Green does not project to have the same thunder in his bat—compared with Longoria, in particular—but he is similar to Tulowitzki in his defensive skills and playmaking ability. He has excellent range, outstanding hands and the smooth and fluid actions of a possible Gold Glove defender. Green has a fine arm, though not quite the cannon Tulowitzki possesses. He's faster than either Longoria or Tulowitzki, frequently clocking in the 6.6-second range over 60 yards. While he doesn't profile as an offensive powerhouse, he should become a long-term middle-infield fixture, a solid .280-plus big league hitter who may produce 15-20 home runs annually. Such potential is extremely rare in a college player.
Mike LeakeArizona State RHPNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-0 | Wt: 170 | Yr: Jr. | Age: 21
Scouting Report: Few pitchers were as consistently good this season as Arizona State righthander Mike Leake. That shouldn't come as a surprise—he's been carving up the Pac-10 for three years. A seventh-round draft pick by the Athletics out of Fallbrook (Calif.) High in 2006, Leake instead headed for Tempe and has pitched his way into first-round consideration. Listed at 6 feet, 180 pounds, what he lacks in pure physicality, he makes up for in athleticism and results. In addition to baseball, Leake played soccer, football and basketball in high school and could be a position player at Arizona State if he wasn't so valuable on the mound. Leake pounds the strike zone with a fastball that sits 88-92 mph. He can dial it up to 94, but prefers to work at lower speeds to get more movement. Throwing from a lower three-quarters arm slot, he gets a lot of armside run and sink on his fastball that results in a lot of groundballs. He also throws a changeup, slider and cutter that grade out as above-average offerings. Leake is a smart pitcher with a bulldog mentality on the mound.
Tim WheelerSacra- mento State OFNotes:
B/T: L/R | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 205 | Yr: Jr. | Age: 21
Scouting Report: Among California scouts, a "Sac State guy" is typically an undersized, modestly talented but scrappy and energetic player, short on tools but long on hustle. At showcase events, it's common to hear scouts use the term as a shorthand way of identifying such players. No Sac State player has ever been drafted above the fourth round, but Wheeler will smash all of those precedents and clich√©s. At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds with a strong and athletic frame and lefthanded bat, he's a prototypical corner outfield prospect. His wiry build has room for further projection. Scouts suspected Wheeler was poised for a breakout after a strong summer in the Cape Cod League, but he has exceeded even those expectations, batting .396/.500/.786 with 18 homers and 69 RBIs. Wheeler's bat is by far his primary tool. He projects to be a plus big league hitter, with power that is a shade above-average. An average arm and speed that's just a tick above-average probably mean he's best suited for left field in pro ball. Scouts laud his baserunning instincts. Scouts who saw Wheeler last year, or even earlier this year, would not have pegged him as a first-round candidate, but as the season has progressed his bat has made the prospect more and more likely.
Bobby BorcheringBishop Verot HS, Fort Myers, Fla. 3BNotes:
B/T: B/R | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 195 | Yr: Sr. | Age: 18
Scouting Report: As loaded as Florida's high school ranks are in 2009—and several scouts have called it a historically deep year—Borchering established himself early as the state's best bet for a first-round selection, and he hasn't let up. He has excellent size at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, and projects as a power-hitting corner infielder. While projecting high school hitters is one of the toughest jobs in scouting, evaluators regard Borchering as one of the safer prep bats in the draft. He has good hands, present strength and excellent bat speed, giving him the ability to hit both for average and for power. He went on a power binge this spring, lifting Bishop Verot from a poor start with seven home runs in a nine-game span. Borchering's bat already was going to get him drafted high, and his improved defense has moved him into first-round consideration. At times last summer he appeared destined to move to first base, and some scouts still see that as his best fit. He has improved his agility and first-step quickness this season, however, and has retained athleticism while filling out physically. He'll never be a graceful or above-average defender, but he has arm strength and soft-enough hands to play third at an average level if he keeps working at it. Borchering's Florida commitment isn't expected to dissuade him from signing in the first 50 picks.
Rex BrothersLipscomb LHPNotes:
B/T: L/L | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 205 | Yr: Jr. | Age: 21
Scouting Report: As a prep player in Tennessee, Brothers made the rounds of baseball camps in the state, attending Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee State, among others. Still, his best offer came from Lipscomb, which became a full NCAA school in 2004. He was the Atlantic Sun Conference's top freshman in 2007, going 7-4, 3.51, then led the Bisons to a regional bid last season, striking out 96 in 97 innings. He pitched in the Cape Cod League last summer, showing a power arm, and has improved significantly this spring, coming out of the gate throwing 92-94 mph with low-80s sliders against Georgia Tech. His stuff got better as he showed a smoother delivery, eliminating a head whack that hampered his command. At his best, Brothers showed two plus pitches: a fastball in the 94-96 mph range that touched 97, and a filthy slider in the 85-87 mph range. Some scouts see Brothers' delivery, which is still not smooth or easy, and want to put him in the bullpen. Several compare him to Randy Myers, who had similar size and stuff and fashioned a 14-year major league career. Others note that Brothers holds his velocity deep into games and should get a chance to start. His matchup with Kyle Heckathorn and Kennesaw State—a huge weekend in the Peach State, when North Carolina visited Georgia Tech and Louisiana State was at Georgia—was perhaps the heaviest-scouted game of the spring, and he delivered with his best stuff, making himself a surefire first-round pick.
Eric ArnettIndiana RHPNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-5 | Wt: 225 | Yr: Jr. | Age: 21
Scouting Report: Indiana University produced just one first-round pick in the first 44 drafts, shortstop James DeNeff (No. 8 overall, Angels) in 1966. Forty-three years later, the Hoosiers should have their second—and it's not preseason All-America catcher Josh Phegley. After pitching mostly out of the bullpen and having only sporadic success in his first two seasons at Indiana, Arnett got stronger and tightened his slider. He flashed a 92 mph fastball as a freshman, and now he's sitting at 92-94 mph, touching 96 and maintaining his velocity into the late innings. His mid-80s slider gives him a second strikeout pitch. He also is doing a better job of using his 6-foot-5, 225-pound frame to leverage the ball down in the strike zone. He's a workhorse who has held up well while averaging nearly eight innings per start, and he ranked second in NCAA Division I with 11 wins entering the final week of regular-season play. Arnett will need to improve his changeup to remain a starter in pro ball, and some scouts think he lands too hard on his front leg in his delivery. Others say his mechanics are fine, and enough teams like him that he should go in the second half of the first round.
Everett WilliamsMcCallum HS, Austin OFNotes:
B/T: L/R | Ht: 5-10 | Wt: 200 | Yr: Sr. | Age: 18
Scouting Report: Of all the elite high school athletes in this draft, Williams might have the best bat. He has a strong 5-foot-10, 200-pound build and big, quick hands, which allow him to power balls to all fields. One area scout says he's seen Williams hit a 500-foot blast, and the lefthanded hitter finished second in the home run derby at the Aflac All-American Game last summer. He has above-average speed that plays as plus-plus on the bases because of his instincts and aggressive nature. He'll need some time to smooth out his defense in center field, but he's certainly capable of staying there. His arm is fringe-average but playable in center. The biggest knock on Williams is a tendency to play on cruise control. Scouts say he's a good kid who just need to play harder on a more consistent basis. He didn't commit to Texas until March, but if he goes in the first round as expected, he won't suit up for his hometown Longhorns. Williams also has some of the best bloodlines in his draft, as his father played in the NFL, his cousin Cedric Allen pitched in the Reds system and two of his aunts are enshrined in the national softball hall of fame.
Chad JenkinsKennesaw State RHPNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 225 | Yr: Jr. | Age: 21
Scouting Report: While Kyle Heckathorn entered the year as the top prospect in the A-Sun, Jenkins and Brothers weren't far behind. A mid-80s guy in high school, Jenkins had a soft body but his arm worked well, and he has improved significantly in college. He had a strong sophomore season, first with Kennesaw State (5-5, 3.96), then in the Great Lakes League. Jenkins has firmed up his still soft body, and his velocity has caught up with his ability to throw strikes. He now has two or three plus pitches at times with good command, giving him serious helium. Jenkins has a great feel for pitching and now sits at 90-93 mph with his hard sinker and reaches back for 96 mph with a four-seamer at times. His sinker has boring action in on righthanded hitters when it's going well. His slider gives him a second plus pitch. His changeup is average. Jenkins repeats his delivery, and scouts see his big 6-foot-4, 225-pound body as a durable asset, particularly if he keeps getting in better shape. He resembles Phillies righthander Joe Blanton, with better command, and should go in the first 20 picks.
Andy OliverOklahoma State LHPNotes:
B/T: L/L | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 212 | Yr: Jr. | Age: 21
Scouting Report: Oliver starred with Oklahoma State and Team USA in 2008, but he didn't look like the same pitcher at the start of this season (see page 23 for the complete story). He had trouble locating his fastball, lost a curveball that had been one of college baseball's best and was flying open in his delivery, allowing hitters to get a better look at his pitches. Oliver got back on a roll as the draft approached, pitching inside more and routinely dominating teams with his fastball. It sits at 92-94 mph and touches 95, and he has a slow delivery that lulls hitters to sleep before his heater explodes on them. He relies heavily on his fastball because he never regained his curve. He now employs a cutter/slider as his No. 2 pitch, and he also flashes an average changeup. His strong 6-foot-3, 212-pound frame bodes well for durability. If Oliver can't develop a reliable breaking ball, his fastball velocity and command should make him at worst an effective big league reliever. The NCAA suspended him last May for having an adviser/attorney, Tim Barratta, present during negotiations with the Twins in 2006, when they drafted him in the 17th round out of an Ohio high school. Barratta turned him into the NCAA after the pitcher switched to Scott Boras, but Oliver successfully sued the NCAA and was reinstated. Oliver shouldn't be a tough sign if he's drafted in the first round as expected.
Mike TroutMillville (N.J.) HS OFNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 190 | Yr: Sr. | Age: 17
Scouting Report: Trout has turned himself into a favorite of scouts in the Northeast, both for his talent and his makeup. An East Carolina commitment, he has rocketed up draft boards as a senior, thanks to an improved offensive approach. Last year, even in the fall, he had a tendency to bail out in the batter's box, particularly against sliders. This spring he has quieted his approach and improved against breaking balls, and he's shown the ability to hit hard line drives to all fields, though his swing still gets loopy and long at times. Halfway through the spring, Trout even began working on hitting lefthanded, and he showed some aptitude for it. Trout's frame and skill set draws comparisons to Aaron Rowand, but he's a faster runner—he runs the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds. He has good range and instincts in center field and plenty of arm for the position. Trout's bat is not a sure thing, but he has a chance to be a solid-average hitter with average or better power. Like Rowand, Trout is a grinder who always plays the game hard.
A.J. PollockNotre Dame OFNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-1 | Wt: 200 | Yr: Jr. | Age: 21
Scouting Report: Pollock hasn't performed as well this spring as he did last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he was the MVP after finishing second in hitting (.377) and first in slugging (.556). While there's debate as to whether he's a true first-round talent, with a shortage of quality college hitters he should get selected in the bottom third of the round. Six-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Pollock stands out most for his athleticism and pure hitting ability from the right side. He has a simple approach, a quick bat and strong hands. Scouts do say he'll have to stop cheating out on his front side and stay back more on pitches in pro ball. Those who like Pollock say that the rest of his tools are solid, while those who don't say he doesn't have another plus tool and question his power. He projects as a 30 doubles/15 homers threat in the majors, and he's a slightly above-average runner who has plus speed once he gets going. Pollock also has good instincts and a solid arm in center field.
Chad JamesYukon (Okla.) HS LHPNotes:
B/T: L/L | Ht: 6-4 | Wt: 195 | Yr: Sr. | Age: 18
Scouting Report: James spent the offseason on a stringent conditioning program, and his hard work will pay off when he gets selected in the first round in June. After pitching in the high 80s and showing a mediocre curveball last year, he has gotten noticeably stronger. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder now routinely sits at 90-92 mph and touches 95 with his fastball. While his curveball needs more consistency, it's close to a plus pitch at times. He continues to have success with a changeup that ranks as one of the best among this draft's high schoolers. James has some minor delivery issues, but he's so athletic that he should be able to make those tweaks with ease. His brother Justin was a fifth-round pick out of Missouri by the Blue Jays in 2003. Chad has committed to Oklahoma State, but his stock continues to rise, making it unlikely he'll make it to college.
Garrett GouldMaize (Kan.) HS RHPNotes:
B/T: R/R | Ht: 6-3 | Wt: 190 | Yr: Sr. | Age: 17
Scouting Report: Gould just keeps getting better and was quickly pitching his way into the first round. He was the Kansas 6-A pitcher of the year in 2008, when he broke big leaguer Nate Robertson's Maize High record with 95 strikeouts in 57 innings. He won MVP honors at the World Wood Bat Association championship last October, beating Shelby Miller in the quarterfinals and allowing just one hit and one walk while fanning 18 in eight shutout innings. After adding strength in the offseason, Gould has taken his fastball from 88-91 mph in 2008 to 91-94 mph this spring—and it's not even his best pitch. He has one of the best curves among this draft's high schoolers, a power breaker he delivers from a high three-quarters arm slot. He also dabbles with a changeup. Some scouts worry a little about effort in his mechanics, while others like how he stays tall and gets good extension out front. Gould is a quality 6-foot-4, 200-pound athlete who starred as a quarterback in football and as a forward in basketball before deciding to focus on baseball as a senior. He plays the outfield when he's not pitching and has enough righthanded power to play both ways for Wichita State should he attend college. But he'll probably go too high in the draft for that to happen.