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 mini-scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players.
Virginia State-by-State List
Virginia Club Dominates on Field, Will Significantly Impact Draft
The University of
Virginia won a school-record 49 games in 2009, and made its
first-ever appearance in the College World Series. That success,
however, was only an appetizer for 2010 and 2011.
In each of the last two
years, the Cavaliers have entered NCAA regional play as the consensus
No. 1 team nationally. Though they were upset a year ago in
super-regional play, one game away from a return trip to the CWS,
they set a new school record with 51 wins and had a record nine
Both those records
could come tumbling down again this year as the Cavaliers already had
49 wins by the start of regional play and could easily top last
year’s team record for most players drafted. Moreover, star
lefthander Danny Hultzen could become the highest draft selection
ever produced by the school as he is projected to go in the top three
picks (former Virginia third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, the fourth
overall pick in 2005, currently holds that mark).
The 2011 season has
been as much about the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Hultzen as it has about
the Cavaliers. He has played key roles as both a pitcher and hitter,
making him a leading candidate for national player of the year, and
attracted droves of scouts to every game he has pitched.
10th-rounder in the 2008 draft, Hultzen has not only
witnessed his team’s amazing success first hand over the last three
years, but has played as big a role in it as anyone. He dominated as
a freshman for the Cavaliers, going 9-1, 2.17 with 107 strikeouts in
95 innings. Like his team, though, he has only continued to get
better over his next two years. As a sophomore, Hultzen went 11-1,
2.78 with 123 strikeouts in 107 innings. In his first 96 innings this
season, he was 10-3, 1.59 with 16 walks and 136 strikeouts. He has
also swung the bat at a .305-1-29 clip.
Hultzen has made a significant upgrade in his stuff and command over
three seasons. His fastball, 89-92 mph earlier in his career, is now
a consistent 95-96. His curve and slider have become more-refined
secondary pitches. His pitchability, always the key to his game, has
become more refined than ever this season.
As dominating as
Hultzen has become this season, his improvement has actually been no
more significant in the success Virginia has enjoyed again this year
than the improvement enjoyed by several other Virginia
players—notably senior righthander Tyler Wilson (7-0, 2.41, 82
IP/20 BB/104 SO) and junior righthander Will Roberts (10-1, 1.78, 86
IP/12 BB/76 SO). They have been difference-makers in the Virginia
rotation behind Hultzen.
Wilson was a lowly
35th-rounder a year ago, while Roberts won just three
times. While neither pitcher will ever blow a hitter away with his
raw stuff, they both have solid shots at being drafted in the top 10
Wilson has an average
fastball, with a slider as his out pitch. Roberts’ fastball is
actually below average, at 86-89 mph, but the 6-foot-5 righthander
has a solid delivery, and like most Virginia pitchers, he succeeds by
throwing a high number of quality strikes—and quality sliders.
Earlier this year, Roberts needed just 98 pitches to throw the first
perfect game in Virginia history, and eighth in NCAA annals.
Virginia has a 2.34
team ERA (second in the nation behind Texas), so much of its success
this season has stemmed from exceptional pitching. But the Cavaliers
also have a handful of position players that will factor prominently
in the drafted, notably junior catcher John Hicks (.338-6-50) and
junior third baseman Steve Proscia (.333-7-53).
Hicks is an
unusually-good athlete for a catcher, with solid-average speed, and
could end up in the outfield down the road as there are questions
about his catching and throwing skills. Proscia leads the Cavaliers
in homers and stolen bases, and is a fixture defensively at third
base, but the new bats in use this spring at the college level have
somewhat exposed his long swing.
question that Virginia, the Atlantic Coast Conference champion, will
factor strongly in this year’s draft. James Madison, the Colonial
Athletic Association champ, should also be a presence.
JMU’s big catch is
junior catcher Jake Lowery, who hit a resounding .357-22-83 on the
season. His power onslaught gradually won over dubious scouts who
initially believed his power numbers, in a year where offense is down
significantly throughout college baseball, were a factor of JMU’s
small ball park.
Though his power may
eventually be more to the gaps, Lowery impressed scouts with his bat
speed, arm strength and overall athletic ability. He should be one of
the top catchers in the country taken in the draft, and may rank
behind only Hultzen among college players in the state. He will be
challenged for that spot, though, by Hicks and Proscia.
6-foot-4, 215-pound sophomore righthander Blake Forslund, a transfer
from Virginia, been healthy all season, he might have been in the
running to be the second player drafted in the state after Hultzen.
Forslund’s fastball was clocked at 96-97 mph in the fall, and more
commonly at 94 this spring, but he sat out four weeks with a nagging
knee injury. He went just 1-2, 8.31, and allowed 47 base runners (32
hits, 15 walks) in just 22 innings.
More than anything,
Forslund needs innings and experience. He was part of the same
Virginia recruiting class as Hultzen three years ago, but worked in
only one inning as a freshman for the Cavaliers before sitting out
the 2010 season while transferring to Liberty.
meager output was a disappointment for Liberty, the biggest
disappointment of all for the Flames was the underwhelming
performance turned in by junior third baseman Tyler Bream. He
projected as a potential top-five-round talent at the start of the
2011 season after topping the Cape Cod League in RBIs last summer.
But with the draft on his mind, he became prone to swinging at a lot
of bad pitches all spring, and hit just .252-3-33. His draft stock
has nosedived in the process.
Bream is the son of
former big leaguer and ex-Liberty star Sid Bream. His cousin, Doug, a
senior outfielder, actually led Liberty in hitting this season, at
.349, but is considered just a marginal prospect.
At the Virginia
high-school level, Kecoughtan High lefthander/outfielder Jake Cave
and Menchville High righthander DeShorn Lake were solidly entrenched
as the top two prospects at the start of the 2011 season, and there
has been very little shakeup in the ranks all season. Predictably,
most of the talent in the state was concentrated in the Tidewater
Cave is a significant
two-way player, and the debate continued all spring whether he is
more highly-skilled as a hitter or pitcher.
As an everyday player,
he has a powerful swing from the left side and enjoyed a better
season at the plate than on the mound, hitting .621. But his fastball
was also clocked at 92-93, topping at 94 mph, and his secondary
pitches remain on track. Cave struggled early in the season with
delivery issues and worked in just 48 innings overall, posting a 5-3,
1.90 record with 24 walks and 89 strikeouts.
Cave scores high marks
in some quarters for his aggressive makeup, while others say he lacks
maturity and he made headlines for all the wrong reasons late in the
season, when he was ejected from a district championship playoff game
for wearing a necklace. The was in violation of National Federation
of State High School Association rules and Cave was required to sit
out the next game, which turned out to be a loss in what amounted to
the final game of his otherwise distinguished prep career.
Lake has his own
notoriety, as he stands out as much for his intriguing background as
his 95-mph fastball. He is a resident of the Virgin Islands, and
moved to Virginia two years ago so he could play baseball in a formal
high-school program, an opportunity that was not afforded him in his
native land. His fastball was typically 91-92 mph this spring, and he
threw it with a free, easy motion. He also has a feel for two
future-average breaking balls, but his slider and changeup are still
at developmental stages.
Beyond Cave and Lake,
First Colonial High shortstop T.J. Costen and Ocean Lakes High
lefthander Shawn Morimando were two more prospects of note that
brought cross-checkers to the Virginia Beach area.
South County High
righthander Evan Beal, meanwhile, was the best prep prospect in
northern Virginia, and played an instrumental role in leading his
team to a 24-0 record and within reach of a state championship. With
significant upside in his 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame, Beal has a solid
chance to eclipse the draft position of his brother Jesse, who was a
14th-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2008.
Virginia in a
University of Virginia talent.
Signable high-school players.
(1-to-5 scale): 4.
BEST COLLEGE TEAM:
TEAM: Patrick Henry.
BEST HIGH SCHOOL
TEAM: South County HS, Fairfax Station.
PROSPECT ON THE
RISE: Jake Lowery, c, James Madison University. With 22 homers
from the left side, solid athletic ability and a strong arm behind
the plate, Lowery made big strides as a prospect this season.
PROSPECT ON THE
DECLINE: Tyler Bream, 3b, Liberty University. His teammate Blake
Forslund might have gone as high as the second round had he not been
an unproductive 1-2, 8.31, but his disappointing season can be
explained by a lingering knee injury and simple inexperience. Scouts
have a tougher time explaining Bream’s difficult season at the
plate, when he went from leading the Cape Cod League last summer in
RBIs to hitting just .252 with three homers.
WILD CARD: Jake
Cave, lhp/of, Kecoughtan HS, Hampton. Scouts are split on Cave’s
future role, pitcher or hitter. He may be a very difficult player to
sign away from Louisiana State anyway, and the simple solution may be
to let him settle the debate on his own in three years at the college
PROSPECT, Virginia Connection: Jackie Bradley, of, University of
South Carolina (attended high school in Prince George).
TOP 2012 PROSPECT:
Branden Kline, rhp, Virginia.
TOP 2013 PROSPECT:
Andy McGuire, ss/rhp, James Madison HS, Oakton.
HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS
Justin Upton, ss, Great Bridge HS, Chesapeake (2005,
Diamondbackss/1st round, 1st pick);
2006 Draft: Jeremy
Jeffress, rhp, Halifax County HS, South Boston (Brewers/1st round; 16th pick).
2007 Draft: Kellen
Kulbacki, of, James Madison U. (Padres/1st round, 40th pick).
2008 Draft: David
Adams, 2b, U. of Virginia (Yankees/3rd round).
2009 Draft: Andrew
Carraway, rhp, U. of Virginia (Mariners/12th round).
Jarrett Parker, of, U. of Virginia (Giants/2nd round).
John Hicks, c, University of Virginia.
Best Power: Jake
Lowery, c, James Madison University.
Best Speed: T.J.
Costen, ss, First Colonial HS, Virginia Beach.
Best Defender: Steve
Proscia, 3b, University of Virginia.
Danny Hultzen, lhp, University of Virginia.
Best Breaking Stuff:
Danny Hultzen, lhp, University of Virginia.
GROUPS ONE and TWO
ONE (Projected ELITE-Round Draft /
DANNY HULTZEN, lhp, University of Virginia (Jr.)
LHP in draft (1.59, 96 IP/16 BB/136 SO); ++ pitchability, difference
in 2011 is spike in velo to 95-96.
TWO (Projected HIGH-Round Draft /
JAKE CAVE, lhp/of, Kecoughtan HS, Hampton
2-way prospect; FB 88-91/T-94, upper-70s CU, effort in delivery; +
OF/arm; + LH swing, 6.8 speed.
JAKE LOWERY, c, James Madison University (Jr.)
C, + arm; + LH bat/gap power, breakout year (.357-22-83); needs
improve blocking/receiving skills.
JOHN HICKS, c, University of Virginia (Jr.)
C (+ bat/speed, hit .338-6-50), marginal arm/defensive skills,
athletic enough to move to outfield.
STEVE PROSCIA, 3b, University of Virginia (Jr.)
role at bat (.333-7-53)/in field for nation’s No. 1 team; athletic,
can run, + D; concern over long swing.
DESHORN LAKE, rhp, Menchville HS, Newport News
Islands native; + strong (6-0/210), fast arm; drop/drive delivery, FB
89-92/T-94, 83 SL, OK
BLAKE FORSLUND, rhp, Liberty University (So.)
upside in 6-4/215 RHP; hurt by injuries/command issues, but FB at
96-97 in fall/95 in spring, power SL.
TYLER WILSON, rhp, University of Virginia (Sr.)
+ SR sign (7-0, 2.41,
82 IP/20 BB/104 SO); smart pitcher, commands 3 pitches, 89-92 FB,
EVAN BEAL, rhp, South County HS, Fairfax Station
projectable at 6-5/200, brother Jesse in O’s system; FB only 88-89,
but more velo in tank; + SL/feel for
TIM SMALLING, ss, Virginia Tech (Sr.)
in 2010, bargain pick in 2011; ++ SS, stabilizer in IF; steady at
T.J. COSTEN, ss, First Colonial HS, Virginia Beach
athlete, disruptive speed (6.41 in 60), strong arm, also plays CF, RH
bat, pull approach with gap power.
WILL ROBERTS, rhp, University of Virginia (Jr.)
below average (FB 87-89), but big frame (6-5/210), sound delivery, ++
pitchability; wins (10-1, 1.78).