Photo: Connecticut

State Preview: Connecticut

Draft : : State Preview
Allan Simpson        
Published: Friday, June 01, 2012

In the weeks leading up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will list the state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as well as providing scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.


Contributing: David Rawnsley

Connecticut State-by-State List
2011 Connecticut Overview

Connecticut Overview:
Thin Year for State With Limited Contribution From UConn

With 10 players drafted off last year’s club, including a pair of first-rounders, the University of Connecticut can be excused if it is taking a year off in this draft.

Unfortunately, as the fortunes of the Huskies go, so pretty much goes the draft fortunes of the rest of the state, and this will predictably be a down year overall for Connecticut with the likelihood of only one, and possibly two selections in the top 10 rounds—one being UConn middle infielder L.J. Mazzilli, son of former major leaguer Lee Mazzilli.

A year ago, the first seven players off the board from state were all members of a University of Connecticut team that long-time Northeast observers labeled the most-talented college team ever assembled in New England. The Huskies alone produced 10 of the state’s 15 draft picks, and all but one of UConn’s 10 selections signed.

With the mass exodus of talent, the Huskies were just a shell of the team this spring that they were a year ago, yet managed to make another run at the Big East Conference championship, finishing just two games off the lead. Overall, they went 31-27, and were the only Division I college team in the state to post a winning record.

Besides Mazzilli and righthander David Fischer, the lone unsigned pick from a year ago, the only other potential UConn draft pick of note this year is closer Scott Oberg, who missed last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and led the team in ERA (0.99) and saves (9).

One of the more curious draft picks in the state this year is expected to involve the selection of catcher/first baseman Justin Morhardt, grandson of former UConn star and ex-big leaguer Moe Morhardt, and the son of Los Angeles Angels cross-checker Greg Morhardt. The younger Morhardt wasn’t even considered a serious candidate to play baseball at the college level as late as last summer, and signed with Oral Roberts mainly because of the school’s music program, not its baseball program.

Morhardt’s grandfather recognized untapped talent in Justin, and encouraged him to pursue the game more aggressively, and there have been rumblings this spring that the Angels, the team his father scouts for, may make a serious run at him with one their early selections, possibly even their first pick—even though that selection won’t come until the third round, stemming from the off-season signing of free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.

Connecticut in a nutshell:

STRENGTH:
University of Connecticut talent.
WEAKNESS: Front-line pitching.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 2.

BEST COLLEGE TEAM:
Connecticut.
BEST JUNIOR-COLLEGE TEAM: Connecticut-Avery Point.
BEST HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Salisbury Prep, Salisbury.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Connecticut Connection:
Matt Carasiti, rhp, St. John’s University (Attended high school in Berlin).
Top 2013 Prospect: Ryley MacEachern, rhp, Salisbury Prep, Salisbury.
Top 2014 Prospect: Willie Burger, 3b, New Canaan HS.

HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS

Draft History:
Bobby Valentine, ss, Rippowam HS, Stamford (1968, Dodgers/1st round, 5th pick).
2006 Draft: Tim Norton, rhp, University of Connecticut (Yankees/7th round).
2007 Draft: Matt Harvey, rhp, Fitch HS, Groton (Angels/3rd round).
2008 Draft: Anthony Hewitt, 3b, Salisbury Prep (Phillies/1st round, 24th pick).
2009 Draft: Dan Mahoney, rhp, University of Connecticut (Marlins/4th round).
2010 Draft: Michael Olt, 3b, University of Connecticut (Rangers/1st round, 49th pick).
2011 Draft: George Springer, of, University of Connecticut (Astros/1st round, 11th pick).

2011 DRAFT OVERVIEW

College Players Drafted/Signed:
12/11.
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 1/1.
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 2/1.

TOP PROSPECTS, GROUPS ONE and TWO

GROUP ONE
(Projected ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)

None

GROUP TWO
(Projected HIGH-Round Draft / Rounds 4-10)

1. L.J. MAZZILLI, 2b, University of Connecticut (Jr.)
Mazzilli was a major contributor to the best team in UConn history a year ago, hitting .338-3-32 with 23 doubles. With most of the talent around him moving on to the pro ranks, he was installed in the No. 3 spot in the Huskies batting order this spring and responded by hitting .339-9-38 with 19 doubles, all team-leading figures and a noteworthy accomplishment because he was afforded much less protection in the Huskies order. As the son of former big-league outfielder Lee Mazzilli, L.J. has obvious bloodlines and athleticism, but is considered a much different kind of player. Mazzilli’s best tool is his bat. He has a good feel for hitting, and has a good, balanced approach, capable of hitting balls to all fields. His raw power is considered marginal, but he is capable of driving balls a long way occasionally. In an ideal world, he would profile as an offensive-minded second baseman with solid feet, hands and arm strength for the position, but after committing 20 errors this spring, the outfield may be his eventual destination.


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