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Draft : : Prospect Scouting Reports
New Scouting Reports: Top 250 Prospects
       
Published: Wednesday, May 19, 2010

DRAFT 2010

SCOUTING REPORTS
TOP 200 PROSPECTS

Original Reports Written March 15-April 15
Updates Written May 15

SCOUTING REPORTS / UPDATES written by
Allan Simpson (AS), David Rawnsley (DR), Jeff Simpson (JS), Andy Seiler (AS)


1. BRYCE HARPER, c, College of Southern Nevada
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Harper is a player who needs no introduction. He burst onto the mainstream athletic scene as a Nevada high-school sophomore in 2009, when he hit .626-14-55 with 36 stolen bases and was the subject of a Sports Illustrated cover story. He subsequently took the bold step of skipping the last two years of high school, earning his GED and enrolling in junior college—all with the intent of making himself eligible for the 2010 draft a year ahead of schedule. The unprecedented expectations for the 17-year-old Las Vegas prodigy, in light of his equally-unprecedented move to make draft history, put many scouts into the mindset before the 2010 season that a bit of failure would provide a healthy dose of reality for Harper. He not only has not sniffed failure as a freshman at CSN, but has exceeded expectations, in all phases. Though his massive raw power has been well-documented through the years, it seemed apparent that he would need to make some adjustments in his approach at the plate as he struggled mightily last summer against faster competition. But in his first 32 games for CSN, he hit a robust .431-12-35 with 22 walks. Given that performance in the context of a competitive junior-college environment (CSN was 27-5 and ranked second in the country) and adapting to wood bats, there is virtually no way to expect any more from Harper as the draft neared. Not only has Harper’s offense been outstanding, but he’s shown he’s a very good athlete with a huge throwing arm. His work behind the plate has become increasingly more polished, and he has comfortably handled CSN’s hard-throwing pitching staff, which could see as many as six arms drafted in the first 10-12 rounds in June. Harper has clearly established himself as one of the top two prospects in the country for this year’s draft, with Texas high-school righthander Jameson Taillon his only real competition to go No. 1 overall. The only potential stumbling block could be signability issues. Harper’s advisor, Scott Boras, is the master of creating leverage for 22-year-old prospects with no college options remaining. Given a phenom of Harper’s caliber, who could still go to college for three more years and not hurt his draft appeal, there’s no telling how much Boras might leverage Harper’s unique situation.—DAVID RAWNSLEY/ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Even in the face of steady and immense scrutiny, Harper has only solidified his standing as a near-lock to be the No. 1 pick in June. He has excelled in all physical aspects of the game, and as CSN moved to within a step of an appearance in this year’s Junior College World Series, Harper led his team in virtually every meaningful offensive category, from batting average (.415), to home runs (23), to RBIs (68), to runs (75), to slugging average (.891), to on-base percentage (.506). He also shared the club lead with 17 stolen bases in 21 attempts. Perhaps most remarkable, Harper’s home-run total nearly doubled the previous school record of 12, set nine years ago—with aluminum. He has tremendous power, to all fields. He has also deftly handled a pitching staff with a number of superior arms. Beyond his considerable on-field exploits, Harper has showed his greatest maturity in his on-field demeanor, particularly in the way he has been more professional in his approach and not showed as much outward emotion as he was prone to do at the start of the season.—AS
 
2. JAMESON TAILLON, rhp, The Woodlands (Texas) HS
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Taillon was an easy consensus choice as the top high-school prospect in the country entering the 2010 season, and was on the short list of most clubs for the No. 1 selection overall, something no high-school righty has ever achieved. At 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, “Jamo” (as he is known to most everyone) has intimidating size that is magnified for hitters by a cross-body, mid-three-quarters release point that creates a severe angle to the plate. Taillon is athletic and has little problem repeating his delivery and release point. He’s comfortable pitching in the 94-96 mph range from both the stretch and windup, and topped out at 96 mph last June at Perfect Game’s National Showcase and 97 mph at the Aflac All-American Game, where he established himself as the top arm for this year’s draft. He later pitched the U.S. junior-national team to a gold medal at the COPABE championship, effectively a qualifying event for the 2010 World junior tournament for teams from the America. He beat Cuba in the final, 6-1, striking out a program record 16 in 7-1/3 innings. Taillon has been topping out at 98 mph in almost every game this spring for The Woodlands High. His most impressive pitch may not be his fastball, but his curve. It has slider-equivalent velocity in the low- to mid-80s, but true curveball action with a big, downer break. He has also shown feel for a changeup, although he obviously doesn’t need to throw it very often against high-school competition. Interestingly, Taillon has a Canadian background as both his parents attended the University of Toronto, where his dad played hockey and lacrosse. Very few prep righthanders have ever been considered legit candidates for the No. 1 overall pick (Josh Beckett in 1999 may have been the last), and Taillon has a well-deserved spot on that short list.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Taillon’s chances of becoming the first-ever prep righthander to go No. 1 overall depend solely on Bryce Harper’s signability, and the willingness of the Washington Nationals to meet his price. That being said, the slow eroding of the top college pitchers in this draft have thrust the hard-throwing Texan, who was actually born in Canada, firmly into consideration for the number No. 2 selection (Pittsburgh). There is little or no chance, based on talent, that Taillon could fall past the fourth pick (Kansas City).—DR
 
3. DREW POMERANZ, lhp, Mississippi
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):A rare power-pitching lefthander, Pomeranz has established a reputation as a big-game pitcher in his three years at Ole Miss. As the Rebels’ Friday starter in 2009, he went 8-4, 3.40 with 124 strikeouts in 95 innings. He followed up with a dominant summer with Team USA’s college national team, striking out 48 in 26 innings while going 4-1, 1.75. He was every bit as dominant early this season, and quickly positioned as one of the top 3-4 picks in this year’s draft. Pomeranz has two present plus pitches, and the potential for a third. He can overpower hitters with a fastball that peaks at 95 mph, and keep them off-balance with a tantalizing, high-70s knucklecurve. His changeup is a clear No. 3 pitch, in most part because he rarely uses it. Scouts have had questions about the consistency of his arm action and delivery as Pomeranz has a tendency to get a little stiff and mechanical, at times, leading to occasional lapses in command, especially with his breaking ball. But his size, stuff and desire to excel will push him to the top of the 2010 draft. Pomeranz might have been a top-round candidate for the 2007 draft out of a Tennessee high school had he not been a good student and intent on playing in college at Ole Miss. He slipped to the Texas Rangers in the 12th round. Four years earlier,Pomeranz’ older brother Stuart, a 6-foot-7 righthander, was the first Tennessee high-school player drafted (Cardinals, second round/65th overall). Stuart was making steady progress on his path to the big leagues, reaching Double-A in 2006, but his career was short-circuited a year later by a shoulder injury. He was released by the Cardinals with a career 28-22, 4.41 record, though resurfaced in 2009 in the independent Can-Am League. Drew is cut from the same tall, lanky, projectable mould as his brother, has the loose, low-effort delivery and throws on a good downhill trajectory. Being lefthanded with an enviable track record at the college level on his resume, he’ll easily surpass his brother’s draft position if he can continue to perform to expectations as a junior.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Just as Pomeranz established himself on a short list of the top three prospects for this year’s draft, along with College of Southern Nevada catcher Bryce Harper and Texas prep righthander Jameson Taillon, he had a number of subpar Southeastern Conference starts—highlighted by his celebrated debacle against Louisiana State righthander Anthony Ranaudo on April 23, when both pitchers exited before the fourth inning. Pomeranz walked nine in three innings, while Ranaudo was raked for nine runs in 1-2/3 innings. Ranaudo is the pitcher Pomeranz essentially replaced earlier in the spring as the top college arm in the draft. Despite his midseason slump, Pomeranz was still an impressive 7-1, 2.15 through his first 13 starts, and had fanned 121 in 80 innings while allowing just 50 hits (.176 opponent batting average). Most disturbing was his 43 walks, a total that escalated as he struggled with his command. Pomeranz’ velocity has also been inconsistent, and it was just 87 tops when in his epic struggle against LSU. More often that not this spring, though, Pomeranz has dominated with a fastball in the 93-94 mph range and painted both corners with ease, while complementing his fastball with a big, sharp-breaking curve. It’s that kind of stuff and command that will elevate him easily into the top handful of picks in June.—AS
 
4. MANNY MACHADO, ss, BRITO PRIVATE HS, Hialeah, Fla.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):No premium prospect for the 2010 draft has perhaps improved as much over the last year as the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Machado, who now ranks as the top high-school position prospect in the country in the eyes of many scouts. Defensively, Machado has all the tools to be a long-time shortstop at the big-league level. He has excellent quickness and athletic ability going after balls, and is very balanced and under control in all his actions. Machado’s arm strength is in the fringy-plus area, but is heightened by his quick release and ability to throw from all angles. He also has some of the flair for playing defense that the best players often have. The biggest area of improvement in Machado’s game has been with his raw bat speed and power potential. While he’s still slender and has done limited weight work, Machado can whip the barrel hard through the zone, and drive the ball deep to all fields. His lone tool that doesn’t project to being above-average is his straight-away running speed. He is just a 6.8 runner in the 60.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Machado finished up the year strong, and he’s now seen as not only the top high-school position prospect in the country, but also the top overall position prospect not named Bryce Harper. He was named his district’s player of the year and guided his team to the regional finals, only to fall short of reaching the state final four. Machado hit over .600 for the second year in a row and should receive strong consideration in the top five picks.—ANDY SEILER
 
5. CHRIS SALE, lhp, Florida Gulf Coast
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Sale was the dominant pitcher in the Cape Cod League last summer, finishing first in strikeouts (57, in 55 innings), tying for the league lead in wins (4) and placing third in ERA (1.55). He was selected the league’s outstanding pitcher and also the Eastern Division MVP of the All-Star Game, where he threw just six pitches in one perfect inning. As a 6-foot-6 lefthander, Sale has obvious physical appeal as a professional prospect, but his projectable frame, deceptive delivery, advanced stuff and mature approach to pitching make him an elite talent. His fastball normally sits in the 91-93 mph range, but can reach 95-96 and has excellent sinking action as Sale comes from an unconventional, high three-quarters slot. He generates a lot of ground-ball outs with the pitch. Sale also has an excellent changeup, both for its deception and movement, and commands the pitch extremely well to both sides of the plate. His slider can be an effective third pitch at 77-78 mph, but is inconsistent. Sale’s advanced sense of pitchability and level-headed demeanor on the mound put him a leg up on most college arms in the 2010 draft class, and his funky, herky-jerky delivery and long limbs often make it difficult for hitters to pick up his pitches. He should only continue to get better as he fills out his tall, very wiry frame. Sale went a solid 7-4, 2.72 with 104 strikeouts in 89 innings as a sophomore at Florida Gulf Coast, and will get the opportunity to pitch in post-season play for the first time in 2010 as a junior as his school has completed its transitional status to full Division I membership.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): While other top college pitchers have faltered a bit late in the spring, Sale has continued to pitch well, including an 8-inning, 10-strikeout effort at Clemson on May 1, when he allowed just a pair of runs and beat a strong ACC team on its own field. This impressive outing came despite a short fight with food poisoning that caused weight loss and fatigue. His numbers (through mid-May) sit at 9-0, 2.00 with 128 strikeouts in 90 innings, and he should get a chance to pitch in the postseason as he has led his team to a 34-17 record overall (22-5 in the Atlantic Sun Conference).—ANDY SEILER
 
6. YASMANI GRANDAL, c, Miami (Fla.)
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):The top high-school catcher in the 2007 draft to attend college, Grandal was viewed as a potential first-rounder that year before becoming an afterthought because of signability concerns. He has always had the ingredients to be a top-level catcher—arm strength, clean release, quick feet, durable body and leadership skills—but hasn’t blossomed in college at the plate as scouts predicted. In high school, Grandal led the talented Miami-area prep ranks in home runs and RBIs, but batted only .234-7-28 as a freshman at Miami. He appeared to come on strong as a sophomore for the Hurricanes, hitting .299-16-45, only to regress during the summer with USA Baseball’s college national team. He hit just .182 with three homers, and his poor showing at the plate raised a red flag or two among scouts, particularly when he let his emotions get the better of him, on occasion, and impacted his play behind the plate. Through the first half of the 2010 season, he led Miami with a .388 average, but his home-run total had slipped to three. A switch-hitter, Grandal has greater bat speed and more power from the left side, but generally feels more comfortable and is a better overall hitter from the right side. More than anything, he’ll need to shorten his swing at the next level as he makes a full-time adjustment to wood. Defensively, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Grandal has one of the strongest throwing arms in the country and blocks the ball well, though his receiving skills are open to question. His demeanor and game-calling skills are obvious strengths. A native of Cuba who came to the United States with his mother at age 8, Grandal played shortstop until he was 15 years old before outgrowing that position and moving behind the plate. There was a long line of big-league teams ready to give Grandal top-round money out of high school, but his commitment to play for hometown Miami was unwavering and he slid to the Boston Red Sox in the 27th-round of the 2007 draft. He’ll just need to continue to hit with more consistency as a junior to return to first-round consideration in 2010.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Grandal has emphatically answered all the questions about his bat with a torrid run through ACC play that pushed his numbers to .425-12-53 (through mid-May). He has adjusted well against quality pitching, as well, which was evidenced by a May 14 matchup against Georgia Tech’s Deck McGuire, when he hit an opposite-field home run against a changeup away and a double off the center field wall on a high fastball. There are increasing concerns about his ability to hit from the right side, as he continues to struggle in game action from that side, but he has given no indication that he is willing to give up switch-hitting. He has secured a place as the top catcher available behind Bryce Harper.—ANDY SEILER
 
7. STETSON ALLIE, rhp-3b, St. Edward HS, Olmsted Falls, Ohio
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): It would easily be defensible to label Allie the hardest-throwing high-school pitcher ever. While he’s never hit 100 mph at a Perfect Game event, he’s consistently pitched in the 97-99 mph range and rarely drops much below that. There have been unconfirmed reports, however, of Allie touching 102, which would obviously put the question to rest. In addition, Allie throws a slider that will reach 91 mph, and show good spin and depth when he isn’t overthrowing it. Despite his undeniable talent, Allie is nowhere close to being a sure-thing first-round draft pick in June. He has very limited experience on the mound and his chronic wildness often makes him very ineffective when pitching to talented or patient hitters. Allie’s wildness is more a product of approach than any glaring delivery faults. His arm action is fluid, but Allie often runs into trouble with his command and usually is used only in short bursts. He tends to pitch to the radar gun, rather than the batter, and is usually either outside the strike zone or right in the middle of the plate. Allie pitched only 15 innings during his junior year of high school, most during the playoffs, but allowed no earned runs while striking out 28. He then pitched only occasionally out of the bullpen last summer for the Georgia-based East Cobb Braves. It will be very telling in assessing Allie’s draft prospects this spring how he is used, especially considering that his father, Danny, is his high-school coach. If he works minimal innings again, scouts may not be able to make a valid determination on his future worth. Allie’s primary role, both in high school and for East Cobb, was as a power-hitting third baseman. He’s agile and athletic at third base, even at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, and his arm strength is an obvious plus tool. He hit .471-7-37 in high school as a junior and would likely be a high Division I-type prospect as a position player if pitching wasn’t clearly in his future. Scouts believe that Allie will routinely hit triple digits before it is all said and done, but his ability to harness his considerable stuff will be the big question.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Allie has been a man among boys this spring. Having suddenly found command of his overpowering stuff in a starting role, he has thoroughly dominated his competition with a number of low-walk, high-strikeout games. His fastball has been consistently in the high-90s and his slider in the high-80s, and he’s thrown strikes with both. While some scouts may still need to be convinced that his pitchability is for real, others have been effusive in their praise and it is apparent that he has elevated himself into the top 10 picks on many team boards with the draft less than a month away. Allie has overwhelmed high-school hitters with his superior stuff and may do the same in the lower minors or in college, but scouts caution that more experienced hitters may lay off his stuff if he is unable to throw strikes consistently. Allie has continued to play third base when not pitching, and should keep intact his record of never hitting below .400 in four years in high school, but he struggles to hit sliders and chases a lot of pitches out of the strike zone.—ALLAN SIMPSON
 
8. ZACH COX, 3b, Arkansas
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Cox established himself as one of the elite hitters in a draft that is thin on offensive talent with his performance last summer in the Cape Cod League, possibly the best proving ground in the amateur ranks. He hit .344 for Cotuit, and would have made a determined run at a Cape League batting title had he not played in barely more than half his team’s games. He arrived late from Arkansas’ participation in the College World Series, and chose to leave the Cape prior to the end of the season. Cox left little doubt, though, that he was one of the league’s most advanced hitters and actually seemed to thrive more with wood than aluminum. Though he failed to go deep in the Cape after slamming 13 homers as a freshman for the Razorbacks, he had the uncanny ability to drive balls with authority the other way, to left and center field, and stroked numerous balls over the left fielder’s head. He even drove a ball to the base of the 415-foot wall in dead-center at Boston’s Fenway Park in the Cape League all-star game. Eventually, Cox will have to show scouts that he can turn on balls more often with wood, especially mid-90s fastballs on his hands. Cox has exceptionally good balance at the plate and tremendous plate coverage, and routinely takes a quick, aggressive cut at the ball, though rarely works the count. He may need another year to mould his approach to hitting, though may not have that liberty as he’ll be draft-eligible in June as a 21-year-old sophomore. Cox also needs time to refine his defensive play. He has relatively smooth hands at the hot corner, but his feet and range are considered just adequate. He also has plenty of arm strength and will pitch on occasion in college, though he must learn to adapt more consistently to a four-seam grip when not pitching so his throws across the diamond are straight and true, and not prone to sink. He also needs to get lighter on his feet to become a faster and more effective base runner. One of Cox’ strengths is his excellent aptitude for the game. He understands his strengths and weaknesses, and knows what he has to work on, and his fate in the draft may depend on his ability to turn on balls and drive them to the pull side more consistently.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): As Cox’ stock has continued to rise this spring, so seemingly have the naysayers’ whispers become louder that he lacks the type of power and loft in his swing that warrant a top half of the first-round selection, much less in the top 10. Regardless, Cox’ stellar 2010 season (.431-8-47, 33 BB through mid-May) and strong athleticism at third base have put him among the top college position prospects in the country. The bottom line is that teams are extra hungry for polished bats, and Cox has one of the best.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
 
9. DECK McGUIRE, rhp, Georgia Tech
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):McGuire has emerged as an elite prospect for the 2010 draft a little more quietly than some of his higher-profile peers, but could end up making a run at becoming the first college arm drafted when it’s all said and done. He positioned himself as a significant first-round candidate with an outstanding sophomore season at Georgia Tech, earning Atlantic Coast Conference pitcher-of-the-year honors for an 11-2, 3.50 campaign, with 118 strikeouts in 100 innings. He only enhanced his status with a fast start to the 2010 season, going 4-1, 1.17 with 49 strikeouts in his first 46 innings, and out-dueling the more acclaimed Matt Harvey, 2-1, in a key ACC showdown between Georgia Tech and North Carolina in late March. Even at 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, McGuire is one of the more polished pitchers in the country. He relies equally on raw stuff and advanced pitchability for his success. He has three quality big-league pitches, including a fastball that is consistently in the 89-92 mph range, and approaches the mid-90s on occasion. While his velocity isn't overpowering, especially for a pitcher his size, he gets good sinking and running action on his fastball. His high-70s breaking ball, a cross between a slider and curve, is one of the best around, and his changeup is above average. He gets high marks for his deceptive delivery, impressive command and excellent mound presence. For all the success McGuire has enjoyed at Georgia Tech, acclaim has been relatively slow in coming. Despite a celebrated baseball and football career at Virginia’s Deep Run High, where as a senior he went 10-1, 1.35 with 129 strikeouts, and also set school career records for homers and RBIs while hitting .479-5-31, McGuire went undrafted. Even as he went 8-1 as a freshman at Georgia Tech, he didn’t earn his due as he was used mainly in a mid-week role. Unlike most other top college arms, McGuire also never pitched during the summer for Team USA or in the high-profile Cape Cod League, further adding to his anonymity. But he firmly established his credentials in the summer of 2008, pitching for his hometown Peninsula team in the Coastal Plain League. He was a no-brainer choice as the league’s top prospect by going 8-0, 1.28 in 11 starts and allowing just 35 hits in 56 innings while striking out 65. He quickly assumed the Friday role the next spring at Georgia Tech, based on that performance, and hasn’t slowed down since.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): McGuire has had a few rough outings late in the spring, but has held his draft value as his stuff has seen a slight late-season uptick. His velocity has bumped to a steady 92-94 early in games, settling at 90-93, up a bit from early in the year, and he has developed a distinction between his two breaking pitches, a mid- to upper-70s curveball and a hard, 83-86 mph slider that is now his best pitch. His numbers are still excellent (7-3, 2.91 with 99 strikeouts in 93 innings), and a strong May 14 outing against Miami confirmed that he is still one of the top college pitchers available in this class.—ANDY SEILER
 
10. DYLAN COVEY, rhp, Maranatha HS, Pasadena, Calif.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Covey has solidified his standing as a potential top-half of the first-round selection with his performance early this spring at Maranatha High. But he really made his mark in the eyes of scouts at the World Wood Bat Association fall championship in Jupiter, Fla., in both October, 2008, and October, 2009. It was in that first appearance, as a high-school junior, that Covey really jumped out, striking out 17 hitters in a game against one of the top teams at the tournament with a 91-94 mph fastball and a hard-breaking, 81-mph curveball. After winning 11 games for Maranatha High during the spring, a tender arm kept Covey out of action for the early part of last summer. But he was still selected as an Aflac All-American, and quickly showed the scouting community that he was healthy at the Aflac All-American Game in August at San Diego’s Petco Park by topping out at 95 mph. He then came back, in a return trip to Jupiter, to push his stuff up another notch, topping out at 97 mph with a nasty true curveball in the mid-80s. Covey also throws a changeup, but it’s his combination of fastball and curveball velocity that enables him to stand out. In his 12 innings of work in Jupiter the last two years, he never threw a fastball under 91. Covey is a good all-around athlete, and his athleticism enables him to repeat his somewhat-complicated delivery very well and pound the strike zone. His tools and hitting ability would make him a two-way prospect at the college level. Though Covey has signed with USD, his pending draft status makes it highly unlikely he’ll ever play in college.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Covey has been consistently dominant all spring, while maintaining his plus/plus stuff and staying healthy. His record through mid-May stood at 6-0, 0.24 with three saves, although in fairness to his ERA he had allowed 12 unearned runs. Covey’s command has been especially impressive as he had walked only 16 in 57 innings vs. 116 strikeouts.—DR
 


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