Draft | Signings | 6/8/2010

Scouting Reports: First Round (1-32)

DRAFT 2010
First Round (1-32)
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

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

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

CHRISTIAN COLON, ss, Cal State Fullerton
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):The consensus top college infield prospect in the 2010 draft class, Colon had a strong sophomore season at Cal State Fullerton, hitting .357-8-40 with 15 stolen bases. It was over the summer, though, that Colon’s stock really took off as he was the unquestioned offensive force for Team USA’s college national team. He hit .362 and led the team in homers (5), RBIs (37) and stolen bases (24), though his summer came to a jarring halt when he ended up with a badly broken leg, a result of a take-out slide, in his team’s final event in Canada. Colon sat out Cal State Fullerton’s fall schedule while on the mend, but was expected to be as good as new by the spring. However, he struggled at the plate in the first month of the season, hitting just .301-6-13 (with four homers coming on one weekend), and stole just two bases. Colon, a 10th-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 2007, has proven himself as a shortstop at the college level and with Team USA, and appears to have all the actions to be a superior middle-infield defender at the pro level. But second base might eventually be Colon’s position as some scouts believe he gets by in the field mainly because of his savvy and superior instincts, that his range and fringy arm strength are better suited on the other side of the bag. His obvious base-stealing ability also stems more from his exceptional instincts, particularly his knack for reading pitchers and getting jumps. No matter where he plays, Colon’s bat will be an asset as he has the range of offensive skills to be effective in any of -the first three holes in the batting order. He makes consistent, hard contact and can drive balls to all fields, and yet rarely strikes out. He also has the bat-head skills to bunt and move runners along, almost at will. Colon’s advanced skill-set was evident even in high school. He was selected MVP of the annual Aflac All-American Classic as a rising senior at Anaheim’s Canyon High, and was considered the nation’s premier defensive shortstop in the prep ranks at the time. But there were questions then about his size and upside with the bat as he was mostly a gap hitter with doubles power. As he has gotten stronger in three years at Cal State Fullerton, his home run power has evolved. Colon is originally from Puerto Rico and attended high schools in Texas and Utah, before settling in and feeling right at home in California.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Though scouts have tried to find fault in Colon’s game this spring, on both sides of the ball, he has measured up to all of his potential critics with another solid college season, and seems to have left little doubt he’ll be drafted in the top half of the first round. Through mid-May, Colon was hitting .354-14-50, and not only topped the Titans in home runs, but had more home runs than strikeouts (12). He also walked 26 times, and gave Cal State Fullerton an electric presence at the top of its lineup with lightning-fast Gary Brown in the leadoff spot, and Colon in the 2-hole. Colon has also been steady as can be in the field, with his nose for the ball and extraordinary feel for the game masking any concerns about his range and footwork.—AS
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
BARRET LOUX, rhp, Texas A&M
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Loux has emerged from off-season surgery to remove bone spurs in his elbow to become one of the most-dominant pitchers in college baseball over the first half of the 2010 season. He quickly surpassed his victory total from his injury-impacted sophomore season (3-3, 4.12) and was 4-2, 1.98 with 64 strikeouts (second in the country) in only 41 innings through the first weekend of April. He limited opposing hitters to a .179 average. Loux has a smooth, repeatable delivery with a long arm action and a high three-quarters release point that creates very good downward angle to the plate. His fastball has been steady in the 92-94 mph area all spring, and he does a good job of spotting the pitch to make up for its relative lack of movement. Both Loux’s downer curveball and changeup have flashed signs of being plus pitches at different points this spring, and he has even been known to mix in a low-80s slider as a fourth offering. Some scouts have been critical of Loux’s inability to pitch deep into games (he was averaging less than six innings per start), and feel he pitches away from contact too much, especially for a pitcher with his superior command and raw stuff. On the other hand, A&M has one of the top bullpens in the country, led by sophomore closer John Stilson, and Loux’s pitch counts have been very modest coming off his surgery.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Loux has been dominant all season (9-2, 2.05, 83 IP/111 SO through mid-May) and saved his best performance for one of his last starts of the spring, a complete-game shutout over Oklahoma State on May 14. His three-pitch mix (91-94 mph fastball, curve and changeup) and overall command paint him as probably a fast mover in professional ball.—DR

MATT HARVEY, rhp, North Carolina
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Though Harvey gets routinely praised for his character and makeup, he has nonetheless become one of the more controversial players in the 2010 draft class. He was targeted as a probable first-round pick throughout most of his career at a Connecticut high school,but concerns about his signability as the 2007 draft drew near sent him tumbling to the third round, where he was selected by the Los Angeles Angels. That pretty much sealed the deal that Harvey would honor his commitment to North Carolina, and he entered the 2008 college season as the nation’s No. 1-ranked freshman. In his first two seasons with the Tar Heels, Harvey was a combined 14-4, 4.22 with 89 walks and 161 strikeouts in 143 innings, hardly dominating numbers, and scouts openly questioned his arm action and delivery. Those concerns came to a head last summer in the Cape Cod League, when Harvey’s mechanics were inconsistent throughout the season. He not only had a tendency to get out front too much on his delivery, but some scouts expressed the concern that his deliberate, one-piece arm action had not only caused him to regress, but might even be irreversible. His 0-2, 7.04 record in three starts, and velocity that fluctuated from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, provided compelling evidence. Given that unflattering scouting profile, Harvey was no longer considered a shoe-in to be drafted in the first round in 2010, much like he was when he set career records for wins (21), ERA (1.08) and strikeouts (315) at Fitch High, where his father Ed was the school’s baseball coach and one of his teammates was righthander Jesse Hahn, now at Virginia Tech and a probable first-rounder himself in June. Though Harvey’s prospect status was somewhat up in the air on the eve of his junior season at UNC, big-league clubs were wise not to make the mistake of overlooking the appeal he held earlier in his career and the possibility that he could work out the kinks in his delivery and recapture his old touch. And in a significant about-face, Harvey has been a revelation this spring. In his first six starts for the Tar Heels, he went 3-1, 1.85 with 48 strikeouts in 39 innings, while allowing just 23 hits. His fastball has been overpowering, regularly reaching 97-98 mph. The command of his secondary stuff has been sharper, and his mechanics have been much more fluid—more like earlier in his career. As a freshman at North Carolina, Harvey was brought along slowly, working mainly as a Sunday starter, and went a commendable 7-2, 2.79 with 47 walks and 80 strikeouts in 68 innings. Even as his workload was curtailed by design that summer, he flashed the best power stuff in the Cape with a fastball that was consistently in the 94-95 mph range and a hammer curve at 82-84. His changeup was a solid third pitch. His stuff remained top-notch as a UNC sophomore, but scouts began to see signs that Harvey no longer threw with the same smooth, easy arm action that he had in high school. He was stiffer with more effort in his delivery, leading to inconsistent command. He tended to get behind in counts, enabling hitters to sit on his fastball. Those concerns became more acute over the next several months, but it was evident in his first several starts this season that Harvey had received extensive positive coaching in the fall to correct his flawed motion, and he almost immediately reversed course to quickly become the pitcher everyone thought he would be all along.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): By watching the 2009 and 2010 versions of Harvey, it would be tough to tell that the same pitcher was on the mound. But Harvey has undeniably shown why he was considered such an elite talent in high school, and has essentially returned to the same delivery he had then. Harvey had his share of scouts talking about his April 23 game against Clemson, when he threw a complete game (9 IP/6 H/1 BB/15 SO) with a mind-boggling 156 pitches. The most impressive part of the outing, though, was that pitch No. 156 was a 96 mph fastball to end the game. His velocity from the past is obviously back as he has sat in the 92-96 mph range all year, topping out at 98 on several occasions. He has also featured a tight, low-80s slider that projects as a potential plus pitch. While some scouts might still be wary of Harvey’s struggles from a year ago, there is no doubt he has the natural talent to work his way into the top 15-20 picks. Through mid-May, Harvey was 6-3, 2.72 on the year.—JEFF SIMPSON
DELINO DeSHIELDS, 2b, Woodward Academy, McDonough, Ga.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):DeShields is the son of ex-big leaguer Delino DeShields, who weighed a first-round offer from the Montreal Expos in 1987 against a scholarship offer to play basketball at Villanova, before casting his lot with baseball. He went on to play 13 years at the major-league level and is now a minor-league coach in the Cincinnati Reds organization. The younger DeShields is also a significant two-sport standout and has fielded numerous football offers from major colleges in the Southeast, including schools in both the Atlantic Coast and Southeastern Conferences. He recently made a commitment to attend Louisiana State, however, to play baseball. As a 5-foot-9 running back and middle infielder, speed is definitely DeShields’ impact tool. Although he’s never been timed in the 60 at a Perfect Game event, he’s been clocked in the 4.3-4.45 range in the 40 at various football camps. Unlike his father, who was a lefthanded hitter, DeShields hits from the right size and uses his strong, compact frame to generate very good bat speed from a short, compact swing. He can drive the ball into the gaps right now with wood and has the chance to be a dynamic offensive player. Going back to his youth days, he’s always been a formidable offensive presence. Defensively, DeShields has played all over the field in his young career, but fits in best at second base, just as his father did. He has excellent range but his relative lack of arm strength fits best on the right side of the infield. DeShields is a good student (one of his offers reportedly was from Stanford, another from Georgia Tech) but did not sign with a college until committing to LSU in the recent April signing period. He had caused plenty of angst among scouts earlier this spring trying to figure out which sport he wanted to play, but the obvious inference now is that he will make baseball a priority.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): DeShields has been one of the fastest risers up draft boards late in the spring, and that is attributed to an increasing awareness that baseball is his top sport, along with a strong on-field performance. Though his team was eliminated early from the Georgia playoffs, DeShields flashed better offensive production late in the year, both excellent power and speed, as well as the ability to spray line drives all over the field. Scouts remain undecided on his future position, but his current home in center field makes him an intriguing prospect as he has flashed plus range and an adequate arm, making him one of the more well-rounded high-school players in this draft.—ANDY SEILER
KARSTEN WHITSON, rhp, Chipley (Fla.) HS
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Contrary to some published reports, Whitson is not the son of former big-league righthander Ed Whitson, although they are related. They would also seem to come from the same gene pool as Whitson has all the credentials to not only reach the majors, but even surpass Ed Whitson’s career 126-123 record, accomplished over 15 seasons. Whitson has a pro-profile pitcher’s body at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, and has the frame and athleticism to continue to get stronger in the future. He’s taken a smooth and easy development curve over the last 2-3 years to arrive at his position as one of the top half-dozen prep pitching prospects in the country. Whitson topped out at 85 mph as a skinny high-school sophomore in 2007, but upped his fastball velocity to 88 mph during the fall of 2007 and spring of 2008. By the fall of 2008, he was up to 92 mph, then by last summer was pitching consistently in the 92-94 mph range and topping out at 95. He has maintained that type of velocity deep into games this spring. Whitson’s low-80s slider is one of the better breaking balls in the 2010 class, although he has a very mature approach to pitching by using primarily his fastball and working to locations, rather than just overwhelming young hitters with the slider. Whitson’s fastball gets very good sinking action down in the zone and his delivery has some deception in it, enabling him to hide the ball from hitters until his extremely-quick arm comes through.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Whitson has drawn a constant series of raves from scouts this spring, both for his mature makeup on the mound and the mature stuff he unleashes on hitters. He has pitched aggressively with his fastball all spring, instead of relying more heavily on his hard slider or surprisingly-advanced changeup. Who the second high-school righthander selected after Texan Jameson Taillon might be is impossible to determine, but it could very well be Whitson.—DR

MICHAEL CHOICE, of, Texas-Arlington
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Choice was so lightly recruited out of an Arlington high school in 2007 that he enrolled at his hometown college with little or no competition for his services, let alone fanfare. Yet three years later, he is on the verge of becoming a first-round draft pick. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Choice made an immediate impression as a freshman at Texas-Arlington, hitting .376-7-51 and leading his team in all triple-crown categories. As a sophomore, he went one better by hitting .413-11-52, and left little doubt that he had not only become a legitimate prospect but was one of the best power bats in the 2010 college draft class. Selected to play for USA Baseball’s national team last summer, Choice hit a solid .350-3-13 in 60 at-bats and may have had the best raw power on the roster. If it wasn’t always evident in game situations, it was in BP, and it was apparent then that he would surprise few scouts if he had a breakout season as a junior, or once he fine-tuned his approach at the plate and began to turn on balls more consistently. Through the midway point of the 2010 season, Choice had already matched his previous high for homers in a season. He was hitting .388-11-30. Choice had a tendency to drive balls more the other way in his first two years at UT-A. In particular, he needed to make better contact on breaking balls. The remainder of Choice’s game is considered average, at best. He is an adequate defender, even as he plays center field for his college team and has the best outfield arm on the roster. By pro standards, he’s a left fielder with a marginal arm. More than anything, he needs to improve his jumps on and routes to balls. His speed is actually below average, but unusually good instincts on the bases enables him to be an effective base stealer. In a 2010 draft that is a little short on powerful bats, Choice should get more than his share of attention from teams that will place a premium on power.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): The hunger that big-league teams have for hitting and power in the draft should mean that UT-A’s one-man wrecking crew (.401-16-57, 69 walks through mid-May) might even creep into the top 10 picks. It will be interesting to see in future years at the pro level if Choice’s absurd walk total (he led NCAA hitters by 14 free passes) is a function of an exceptionally advanced batting eye, or the mere fact that he had almost half of his team’s home runs on the season and pitchers have wanted no part of him.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
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

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
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

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

JAKE SKOLE, of, Blessed Trinity HS, Woodstock, Ga.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):A multi-sport athlete, Skole is more well-known around Georgia for his talents on the football field and being the younger brother of Georgia Tech sophomore third baseman Matt Skole. He may end up at Georgia Tech himself as he made a commitment to the Yellow Jackets to play football, but it’s an arrangement that will also allow him to play baseball. Skole excelled on the gridiron in high school as a safety, wide receiver and kick returner; he showcased the same range of skills on the baseball diamond as an outfielder. Skole’s talent is nearly the polar opposite of his extra big, slugging brother, a two-year starter for Georgia Tech. The speed which allows the younger Skole to be a Division I-caliber football player is evident on the baseball field as he has run the 60 in 6.5 seconds, and has center-field range and a strong throwing arm. Skole hits from the left side of the plate, and combines the plate discipline and speed to be an ideal leadoff hitter, though has the strength in his swing to drive balls to the alleys and generate plenty of doubles and triples. Skole’s swing mechanics still need refining as he has missed plenty of baseball repetitions through the years when playing football, and will obviously continue to do so depending on his development in that sport. His superior athleticism will definitely keep the scouts interested, however, and he should be an early-round factor in this year’s draft if it’s determined he is signable.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Skole missed a large chunk of the 2010 season due to an ankle injury that required him to walk around in a boot for much of the spring. However, he returned in time for the Georgia prep playoffs, and quickly became a force for a team that was a major contender for the state title, though subsequently was eliminated. Skole was hitting just .360 with three home runs entering the second round of the playoffs, but was rounding back into shape quite well late in the season. Scouts were seeing him in droves, hoping to see the kind of tools that attracted them to Skole before he went down with the injury.—ANDY SEILER
HAYDEN SIMPSON, rhp, Southern Arkansas
SCOUTING PROFILE: With a fastball that topped at 96-97 mph early this season, Simpson put himself squarely on the map with baseball scouts in the Arkansas area. Most had the preconceived notion that the state’s four best 2010 prospects all resided at the University of Arkansas, by far the state’s highest-profile school. But suddenly Simpson was a player to be reckoned with—no matter that he pitched at a Division II school, and had the obvious prejudice of being a 6-foot righthander. As scouts began to bear down on Simpson, it was apparent that he had a lot more to offer than just a big fastball. His two best pitches were actually his slider and knee-buckling 12-to-6 curve. His circle changeup was also a solid fourth pitch. What’s more, he impressed scouts with his feeling for pitching and aggressive approach. With a heavy workload early in the season, Simpson’s velocity began to taper off to the low-90s, but it was back up again to 93-94 in his signature outing of his junior season, when he beat Florida Southern (the nation’s No. 1-ranked team at the start of the season) in NCAA D-II regional play, walking none and striking out 13. It would turn out to be his final outing, as Southern Arkansas lost out to Tampa in the regional final. On the season, Simpson went 13-1, 1.81 with 35 walks and 131 strikeouts in 99 innings. He was selected the D-II national pitcher of the year. Over his career at Southern Arkansas, he went 35-2, 2.39 with 323 strikeouts in 271 innings. That’s all pretty heady stuff for a pitcher who wasn’t actively recruited out of Arkansas’ Magnolia High, certainly not by the state’s marquee school. It was only at the behest of his neighbor, Southern Arkansas baseball coach Allen Gum, that he consider attending that school, and his career has been nothing but a success since.—ALLAN SIMPSON
JOSH SALE, of, Bishop Blanchet HS, Seattle
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):The lefthanded-hitting Sale presents a very good case as the premier hitter in the 2010 prep class. Though he’s a rock strong, 6-foot-1, 205-pound outfielder who has pretty much maxed out physically, three things stand out about Sale’s hitting. The first is his superior bat speed and power. The ball explodes off Sale’s bat and he has the ability to drive balls out of the ball park with wood to all fields. The second is the fact that Sale has consistently performed at a very high level against the best pitchers in the country. He hit for the cycle in one game at the Area Code Games before his junior season and has consistently dominated top-level pitchers at Perfect Game and World Wood Bat Association events over the last year. He also hit .470-13-49 as a junior at Bishop Blanchet High, and both his power and overall hitting ability project as at least average major-league tools. Probably the thing that stands out most about Sale as a hitter is his approach. To put mildly, it borders on arrogant. Sale lives to hit, and he attacks pitches with an aggressive purpose that few hitters can match. He is a strong and physical prospect, and can produce outstanding bat speed from the left side. There is a story from the 2009 Area Code Games that prior to one game Sale took 80 straight BP swings in the cage. That probably didn’t endear him to his teammates waiting to take their own turn in the cage, but it’s indicative of his single-minded focus on hitting. Similar stories of midnight hitting sessions back in Washington have also circulated in the scouting community. Sale’s athletic ability and defensive tools are playable, but not otherwise notable without his big bat. He ran the 60 in 6.87 seconds at Perfect Game’s National Showcase last summer, and has pretty good arm strength that will play well in left field, but may be a stretch for right. Sale has played some third base in the past but would really have to work hard to become playable at that position.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): The Toronto Blue Jays drafted outfielder Travis Snider out of a Seattle-area high school with the 14th pick in 2006, and it took little more than two years for the powerfully-built lefthanded hitter to surface in the big leagues. In many ways, Sale is a clone of Snider—right down to the compact frame, pure lefthanded power stroke and insatiable appetite for hitting. He could also trump Snider’s position in the draft as some clubs view him as possibly the elite hitter in the prep ranks. At this stage of his career, Sale may be a better power hitter than a pure hitter, and may need some mechanical adjustments to his swing to become a better hitter and fully maximize his power potential. Sale has a high back elbow in his load, and high-school pitchers exploited him this spring by beating him inside—when he’s been pitched to. Sale still hit close to .550 this spring, and set school career records for homers and RBIs. Like Snider, the rest of Sale’s tools grade as average. He’s a corner outfielder whose arm will probably relegate him to left field.—ALLAN SIMPSON
KALEB COWART, 3b-rhp, Cook County HS, Adel, Ga.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):In a 2010 draft class that is loaded with two-way prospects, Cowart’s balance of skills and tools enables him to stand out as both a third baseman and righthanded pitcher. He could conceivably be a first-round pick at either position, depending on where a team has a preference for him. In that regard, he’s much like Ethan Martin, his predecessor at third base with the East Cobb Astros summer program. Martin was a first-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008 as a righthanded pitcher, although he entered the spring of his senior year more highly-regarded as a hitter. A switch-hitter, Cowart has good power potential from both sides, along with similar approaches and bat speed. He has a chance to be a significant run producer. As a junior at Cook County High, he hit .535-16-47, while stealing 27 bases. On the mound, he was equally impressive as he posted a 0.85 ERA and struck out 107 in 74 innings. His all-around game has been so impressive throughout high school that he has earned area player-of-the-year honors three times. Cowart’s tools are well-rounded. He is an outstanding defensive player at third with Gold Glove-type tools, especially his arm strength. His speed has been steady at 6.7/6.8 for much of the last year. On the mound, Cowart has explosive late life on a fastball that reached 95 mph at the Aflac All-American Game, and is usually in the 90-92 mph range. His mid-70s curveball gets tight spin and hard, biting action, and his changeup is a good pitch for a relatively inexperienced pitcher. Cowart has pitched mostly in relief during the summer and fall, and has carried himself as primarily a position player first, much as Martin did. It will be interesting to see how scouts read his two-way status this spring.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Scouts began to think that they had Cowart pegged as a pitcher early in the spring before an offensive tear split the scouting community once more. He led his team to the state quarter-finals with an impressive no-hitter on the mound in the first round, improving his record to 6-0, 0.35, and he complemented that by hitting .653-9-48. Cowart has made it clear that he prefers to continue his career as a position player, and while a number of scouts find that acceptable, he could lose some value with the teams that see pitching as the more promising future for him.—ANDY SEILER

MIKE FOLTYNEWICZ, rhp, Minooka (Ill.) Community HS.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Foltynewicz is a fast-rising high-school righthander who could factor into the top two rounds of the draft if he performs outside like he did indoors at Perfect Game’s Indoor Showcase in February. He showed off a very smooth, yet powerful arm that consistently produced fastballs in the 91-94 mph range. He then topped out at 95 in his first official outing of the year in late March. A 6-foot-5, 200-pounder with a very good frame and strength potential, Foltynewicz has some basic delivery issues that should be pretty easy to clean up and should give him more consistency with his command and off-speed stuff. His curveball has very good velocity in the upper-70s, and flashes hard, tight spin and a sharp two-plane break. He also throws a quality changeup that should continue to improve as he throws the pitch more often. Foltynewicz has signed with the University of Texas, and a logical comparison to him at the same age might be current Longhorns righthander Brandon Workman, a probable first-round pick in this year’s draft.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Foltynewicz’ stock raced forward early in the spring as he was consistently pitching at 93-95 mph, and reportedly even touching as high as 97. His fastball velo “dropped” a bit later in the spring, but his curve has been a hammer all year and he has the type of bulldog makeup that scouts love to see in any pitcher. It will be interesting to follow Foltynewicz’ signability with a Texas scholarship in hand, as it is easy to make the natural comparison between he and Workman, himself a third-round pick out of high school.—DR

KOLBRIN VITEK, 3b-rhp, Ball State
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Vitek (.400-6-38) won a triple crown in the Great Lakes League last summer, and also topped the league in hits (54), total bases (100) and doubles (16). Some of that league’s veteran coaches said he was the most-dominant righthanded hitter to play in the league in a number of years. It was not an altogether surprising offensive performance for Vitek, though, considering he was hitting .427-8-34, all team-leading figures, through Ball State’s first 29 games this spring. Vitek also hit .389-13-67 as a Ball State sophomore, leading the team in homers and RBIs, and also paced the Mid-American Conference and tied a single-season school mark for doubles, with 25. Vitek’s best tool might be his natural hitting ability, more than his raw power. He has excellent hands, balance and bat speed through the hitting zone, with good plate discipline and loft power in his swing to all fields. He also has impressive foot speed (he has been clocked in the 60 in 6.6 seconds) and advanced base-stealing skills. Vitek put almost all of his focus last summer on the offensive side of the game, and actually spent most of the GLL season out of position at second base. Normally a pitcher and third baseman through his first two years at Ball State, Vitek arrived at Lake Erie with a fatigued shoulder after going 4-3, 5.65 in 57 innings as a weekend starter for the Cardinals, and it was determined he would spend the summer at second base to rest his arm. He still managed to work three innings for Lake Erie. The versatile Vitek made only five errors at his interim position and displayed acceptable range and hands, but it was generally agreed that his superior arm strength was wasted at second and better suited for the hot corner. Despite a desire on the part of scouts for Vitek to return to third, he continued to play second as a junior at Ball State—ostensibly to help him polish his defensive skills, the weakest part of his game. Not only would he get more repetitions at second than he might at third, but the move was also designed to ease the wear and tear on his arm as Vitek is taking a regular turn in the Cardinals rotation.Though Vitek has the talent to warrant being drafted as high as the second or third round as a position player, or possibly even the sandwich round with a very productive 2010 season, he also has significant ability on the mound and could command fifth- to sixth-round interest if a team wanted to pursue him at that position. Vitek has the best stuff on the Ball State staff. His fastball has been clocked up to 92-93 mph, and he has command of four pitches from two different arm angles. Through seven starts this spring, he was 1-2, 3.55 with eight walks and 25 strikeouts in 33 innings. But Vitek’s real strength is his combination of speed and power.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Vitek has exceeded scouts’ expectations for him this spring, and now has a legitimate shot of being drafted late in the first round, or sandwich round, at worst. He’s been a force for Ball State, both at the plate and on the mound, and has generally become more refined in all areas of his game. Through mid-May, Vitek was hitting .363-15-59, all team-leading figures, and also topped the Cardinals in runs (66) and doubles (17). Perhaps most remarkably, he posted those numbers while also leading the Ball State pitching staff in innings pitches (69), while going 3-4, 3.39 with 18 walks and 50 strikeouts. He has not taxed his arm by spending the bulk of the 2010 season at second base, but profiles more as a third baseman at the pro level. More importantly, he’s hit with power consistently and has emerged as one of the draft’s elite power threats.—AS
ALEX WIMMERS, rhp, Ohio State
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): As both the No. 2 strikeout pitcher in the nation’s sophomore class and one of the most-polished arms in the 2010 college draft crop, Wimmers seemed made to order for Team USA’s college national team last summer. But the 6-foot-2, 195-pound righthander failed to survive the final cut and ended up becoming a difference-maker for Bourne as it won its first Cape Cod League championship. Though he made just five starts for the Braves, including one in the playoffs, Wimmer quickly settled in as the staff ace and went 2-0, 1.04, while striking out 46 in 26 innings. That impressive ledger came on the heels of a 9-2, 3.27 spring campaign at Ohio State, where he struck out 136 in 105 innings, though walked 55. He also tossed in a no-hitter. Through his first six starts for the Buckeyes this season, he was even more impressive with a 6-0, 1.98 record, with 46 strikeouts in 41 innings. Wimmers won’t overpower hitters with a fastball in the 90-93 mph range, but he combines it effectively with two other quality pitches, a hammer curve and lethal 76-78 mph changeup. His change is as good as it gets at the college level, and is difficult to pick up because he generates exactly the same arm speed and action as his fastball, and produces sharp, downward movement with the pitch. Wimmers also sets himself apart from other college arms with his take-charge demeanor on the mound and supreme confidence in his ability. All that separates Wimmers, who went undrafted out a Cincinnati high school, from being scooped up in the first round is improving his pitch efficiency and adding a tick or two to his fastball.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Though Wimmers extended his record on the 2010 season to 9-0, 1.61 in his first nine starts with solid ratios (67 IP/53 H/20 BB/78 SO), his status for the draft suddenly became clouded when he tweaked a hamstring warming up in the bullpen, prior to a key Big Ten start at Michigan, with a large number of scouts there to watch him pitch, and ended up not pitching that day. Entering Ohio State’s final conference series, he had not pitched again—and may not do so again before the draft unless OSU finds a way to secure a post-season berth. Wimmers’ extended absence from the Buckeyes rotation has obviously raised a red flag among scouts, and couldn’t have come at a worse time as he was methodically moving into the mix of college pitchers in the middle of the first round. His stuff wasn’t dominating, when healthy, with a fastball that occasionally reached 93, but his command and advanced sense of pitchability were the equal of any college arm in this year’s draft pool.—AS
KELLIN DEGLAN, c, R.E. Mountain HS, Langley, B.C.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Ontario lefthander Evan Grills has been Canada’s designated top prospect in the 2010 draft class almost from the time he enrolled in high school. But as his stock has slipped marginally as a senior, Deglan’s continues to rise and he is given the best chance to be the first Canadian high-school player drafted in June. He should also be one of the first prep catchers selected in what is a slim draft for that commodity. Deglan has an outstanding young catcher’s physical profile, with a strong but still lean 6-foot-2, 200-pound build. While his plus arm strength and athletic movements behind the plate get the most notice from scouts, it will likely be his lefthanded bat that makes the difference in his development and eventual ceiling. Deglan has a quick and relatively short swing, with very good rhythm through contact and some lift out front for future power. He’s very polished for a Canadian prospect as he comes from a baseball-oriented family and has caught for Canada’s junior-national team in international competition. He has also starred for the B.C.-based Langley Blaze, a top travel team that often ventures to Arizona and matches up against top minor leaguers in exhibition games during spring training in the spring and instructional league in the fall. Deglan has committed to Florida International, which would require him to go all the way across the continent for college, though it’s looking increasingly likely he won’t make it past this year’s draft.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Deglan’s stock has continued to rise during the spring to a point where he was being scouted in May like a potential late first-round or sandwich pick. Somewhat remarkably, he has an excellent shot of being the first high-school catcher drafted—an unlikely feat for a Canadian, especially at a demanding position defensively. Deglan has an excellent aptitude to catch, and plays the position easily. He excels as blocking balls, creates strikes for his pitchers with an acute sense of framing pitches and has improved his throwing mechanics and arm strength this spring. He has continued to swing the bat well from the left side, and there’s not an area of his game that he hasn’t taken to another level this spring. Deglan also has gotten favorable reviews for his makeup and the way he carries himself. In the end, it may boil down to what teams saw him play when this spring. He struggled with Canada’s junior-national team on its annual trek to Florida in March, but excelled with the Blaze, his club team, when it played several games against pro competition at spring-training bases in Arizona.—ALLAN SIMPSON

CHRISTIAN YELICH, 1b, Westlake HS, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):A slender, athletic lefthanded-hitting first baseman, Yelich has been one of the quickest risers this spring in the rich Southern California prospect market. While he profiles as a first baseman or possibly a left fielder at the pro level because of an awkward arm action and below-average raw arm strength, Yelich is a very agile athlete who actually played shortstop for his high-school team as a junior. He has run the 60 in the 6.7-6.9 range. Yelich played for the ABD Bulldogs team that featured many of the top prospects from California in the 2010 and 2011 draft classes (Austin Wilson, Tony Wolters, Travis Harrison, Stefan Sabol, etc.) and won numerous national titles over the last two years. Tellingly, he usually hit cleanup in that lineup. He has a deceptively-quick and fluid swing that should just keep increasing in bat speed as he gets stronger, and has already shown his impressive power potential. One of the few elite California players to commit to a college a good distance away, Yelich has signed with the University of Miami.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Yelich showed no letdown over the course of the 2010 season, and continued to mash the ball at a steady clip. Overall, he was hitting .455-9-25 with 27 stolen bases through mid-May, and had a stretch in late April and early May where he hit five home runs in six games. Not unlike many top high-school hitters, finding pitchers who will challenge him has been a problem and he had walked 29 times vs. 77 official plate appearances.—DR
GARY BROWN, of, Cal State Fullerton
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Brown’s best tool is his blazing speed, and it’s a significant asset at the plate, on the bases and in center field. Though he has legitimate top-of-the-order potential and plays with boundless energy, Brown still needs to refine most aspects of his game to take full advantage of his speed, arguably the best in the Cape Cod League last summer and the best in the college ranks this spring. He hit .340-3-40 as a sophomore at Cal State Fullerton and batted .310-2-14 in a return engagement to Orleans, but had yet to master the art of small ball, particularly bunting, entering his junior year. That appeared to change this spring as a junior at Cal State Fullerton. All facets of his game have improved and he was hitting a robust .448-2-17 through 23 games, while leading the Titans in runs and stolen bases. His draft stock has taken a corresponding climb. Brown’s pesky approach at the plate can often unnerve opponents. He can be overly aggressive, at times, and has a tendency to chase pitches, but has good hand-eye coordination and generally makes contact. He also has surprising power in his slight 6-foot, 180-pound frame, but his swing is geared too much to drive pitches, rather than simply put balls on the ground to utilize his big speed. He can create havoc on the bases, as well, but needs to learn better base-stealing technique as he was successful on just 10 of 17 stolen-base attempts last summer on the Cape. Brown is an accomplished center fielder, despite spending much of his first two years at Cal State Fullerton out of position at third base. He has excellent range in all directions, gets great reads and jumps, and his arm strength is above-average. His raw speed allows him to play shallower than most center fielders, enabling him to take away more than his share of hits, while still being able to retreat on balls over his head. If he can continue to show that he has corrected some of his flaws at the plate and on the bases, Brown will be a legitimate first-round candidate in June.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): While Brown had his share of doubters earlier this season that he would end up in the first round pick in June, he has quieted those concerns by continuing to produce big numbers at the plate, and on the bases, through the spring. With the regular season winding down, Brown was hitting a team-high .439, while contributing six homers and 41 RBIs from his leadoff role. He had also swiped 29 bases in 34 attempts. It was evident that Brown has matured in several phases of his game as a junior, even as he still remains as aggressive as ever at the plate, as evidenced by just nine walks and 11 strikeouts in 47 games. He’s become a more polished hitter, both barreling up more balls and not getting himself out as often. His game-changing speed has been more of a weapon on the bases, and he has fully taken to his everyday status in center field, where his range and arm strength are significant assets.—AS

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
KYLE PARKER, of-1b, Clemson
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Parker is one of the more intriguing athletes in the 2010 draft class. Not only does he excel at baseball, but he was a decorated quarterback for Clemson’s football team last fall, setting freshman school records for passing yardage (2,526), completions (205) and touchdowns (20). Obviously, Parker’s prowess on the football field will have to be weighed closely by big-league clubs as they assess his options with this year’s baseball draft drawing near, and the potential for Parker to play three more years of college football. Football appeared to be Parker’s priority at Jacksonville’s Bartram Trail High, where he was one of the nation’s elite QB recruits. Moreover, his father Carl played six years as a wide receiver in the NFL. But when Parker elected to enroll at Clemson a semester early, and effectively skip his senior year in baseball, it gave him an opportunity to join the Tigers baseball team immediately. He flourished as a freshman, hitting .303-14-50 and leading the team in home runs, even as he should have been a high-school senior at the time and juggled spring football practice with his baseball schedule. It was later determined that Parker would red-shirt in football the following fall. Though his numbers on the baseball diamond backed up a bit to .255-12-52 in 2009 as a sophomore, he still had two full seasons of college baseball under his belt when he finally made his debut at QB for the Tigers last fall. Though he had a breakout season on the gridiron, Parker still entered the 2010 baseball campaign as one of the nation’s elite power-hitting prospects, and he responded in kind over the first half of the season by leading Clemson with a .382 average and 11 home runs. Power has always been Parker’s best tool, and he has it in abundance to all fields. In 56 career games over two years against Atlantic Coast Conference competition, he went deep 17 times. He has become a better all-around hitter this season, shoring up holes in his swing and approach. He has seen most of his time defensively in right field in three years, and has plenty of arm strength for the position, although he’s just an average fielder and runner.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): With Parker attracting considerable attention as a potential sandwich or second-round pick in this year’s draft, clubs have been making every effort to get an accurate reading on Parker’s plans to pursue a baseball career, or return to Clemson for another year of football—or both. It’s possible a club will draft him in a signable round, let him play a summer of professional baseball and then permit him to play football in the fall. At the very least, Parker’s status as a dual-sport athlete will allow teams to spread out the bonus he receives over a five-year period, lessening the immediate financial hit, and that could be a factor if a team is prepared to pay him first-round money to buy him away from football. If teams determine Parker still needs to satisfy his football fix and won’t consider a baseball offer, he could plummet in the draft. In a draft short on power bats, Parker is an attractive commodity. He has power to all fields, with his best power to right-center. If he gets beat at the plate, it’s usually on a fastball in on his hands, which may be a concern with wood bats, considering Parker has never played summer ball and been exposed to wood. Parker has hit a team-high .376 this spring for Clemson through mid-May, and also topped the Tigers with 18 homers. If he has shown improvement in any area at the plate, it’s in his ability to have quality at-bats and lay off tough pitches. He had walked more times (44) this spring than he struck out (39). The rest of his game is just average, and it’s apparent to all that teams will be investing in a bat if they draft Parker.—AS
JESSE BIDDLE, lhp, Germantown Friends School, Philadelphia
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Few pitchers in the 2010 class look the part more than the 6-foot-6, 235-pound Biddle, whose build, athletic looseness and projection have given rise to many Andy Pettitte comparisons. Biddle has flashed top-round stuff frequently at large national events over the past year, but hasn’t shown the consistency yet to completely sell scouts. His fastball has touched 91-92 mph, but will range between 86 and his peak velocity frequently during an outing, although hitters don’t tend to get good swings on his fastball at any speed. Biddle’s curveball shows good downer break at times, although it will come in soft at other times, as well. He rarely throws a changeup at this point in his development. Biddle throws a bit across his body at release, and his height and high three-quarters release point create an ideal angle to the plate for his pitches. His stuff and command are consistently better from a full wind-up. Biddle has shown an interesting West-Coast bias for a young man from Philadelphia as he first came to scouts’ attention by pitching for the California-based NorCal program in the summer of 2008, and signed a letter-of-intent to attend the University of Oregon.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Biddle was a little slow getting started this spring with his fastball in the 86-90 mph range. But his velocity soon began to pick up, and it was obvious Biddle had hit his stride in an April Friends School League game, when he pitched a 1-0 no-hitter, and struck out a personal-best 17. By then, his velocity was up to a more customary 92-93 mph, touching 94. He complemented his fastball with two breaking balls, and his curve, in particular, has been harder and sharper this spring, as opposing to a slower, rolling version last summer.—ALLAN SIMPSON
ZACH LEE, rhp, McKinney (Texas) HS
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Lee would be getting more attention at the top of the draft if he wasn’t a highly-acclaimed quarterback who has signed to Louisiana State to play both football and baseball. A classic pro-style QB running a spread formation, Lee threw for more than 5,000 yards and 61 touchdowns the past two football seasons. Scouts have acknowledged that Lee is so heavily committed to playing football at LSU that he may be unsignable in this year’s draft. He has chosen not to talk to scouts at all this spring, forcing them to go through his McKinney High teammate Matt Lipka to gather information. On straight ability, Lee might be a first-rounder. He has taken a big step forward this spring, throwing with a sound, easy delivery, some cross-body action on release and a high three-quarters release point. Previously in the 89-91 mph range, Lee’s fastball has frequently been at 94-95 this spring. He also throws a low-80s slider as his out-pitch, and does a very good job commanding his pitches, especially to the outside corner on righthanded hitters.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Lee will likely continue to be one of the draft’s true wild cards up until the first round is called June 7. He has firmly established that he is a first-round talent on the mound, but his signability situation, due to his unbending football commitment to LSU, makes it anyone’s guess as to whether he even has a price to play baseball. He has had a lot of influential baseball people out to see his games this spring. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that a club that drafts him would be able to spread out Lee’s bonus payments over five years—yet that may not even be enough.—DR

CAM BEDROSIAN, rhp, East Coweta HS, Senoia, Ga.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Bedrosian is the son of 1987 National League Cy Young Award winner Steve “Bedrock” Bedrosian, which explains his unusual middle name, “Rock”. At 6-feet and 195 pounds, Bedrosian isn’t as tall and slender as his 6-3, 195-pound father, but he is solidly built and there is certainly a similarity in arm strength. Bedrosian throws from an aggressive, fairly fast-paced delivery and his fastball has been clocked as high as 95 mph. His breaking ball is a 78-80 mph hard curve that is a plus pitch when he doesn’t overthrow it, and he will work in an occasional changeup. Bedrosian works as a starter in high school, and posted a 0.84 ERA along with 96 strikeouts in 57 innings in that role as a junior. But he often showed his best stuff and most consistent command during the summer when coming out of the bullpen for the East Cobb program, and his intense, bulldog makeup may be better suited to close. His father also transitioned from a starter to closer once he got to the major leagues. Bedrosian has signed with Louisiana State, but has the stuff and bloodlines to work his way into the first two rounds of this year’s draft.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Bedrosian has had one of the more dominating springs in Georgia this spring, though that hasn’t answered questions scouts have about his frame and durability over the course of a full season. Pitching on one of the top teams in the state, he fired a pair of complete-game efforts in the playoffs, including a 15-strikeout performance, though his team ended up losing the game in extra innings. Bedrosian’s stuff maintained throughout the season, and though he’s been passed by more projectable arms, he’s still seen as solid prospect with plus natural arm strength.—ANDY SEILER
CHEVEZ CLARKE, of, Marietta (Ga.) HS
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Clarke is one of the most athletic, tools-oriented players in the 2010 class. He’s a tightly-wound athlete with a very good combination of speed and strength, and quick-twitch ability. A switch-hitter, he has pro-level bat speed from both sides of the plate, although he shows more polish to his swing and quicker hands from the left side. Clarke has flashed his power potential on a number of occasions, but hasn’t developed consistency in his ability to drive balls hard up the alleys, something that should be solved as he learns to recognize pitches and stay back on off-speed offerings better. As a junior at Marietta High, he hit just .300, but slugged seven homers and stole 20 bases. Those numbers are expected to increase significantly after an impressive summer with Georgia’s nationally-prominent East Cobb youth program. Clarke’s athletic ability really shines on defense. As a 6.5-second runner with a very quick first step in the outfield, he has excellent range. His arm strength also grades out as slightly-above average now and should continue to improve with better footwork. It should be no problem for Clarke to stay in center field as he moves up the baseball ladder. He has signed with Georgia Tech, but could be an early pick in June if he can swing the bat to his capability.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Clarke’s team failed to make the Georgia state playoffs, but it wasn’t on account of his play. Pitched around all spring, he managed to hit over .400 when he had strikes to hit, and he showed good restraint from chasing bad pitches on a team that went just 11-14 with him as its leadoff hitter. Most scouts believe Clarke has taken a solid step forward with his bat, though his power projection is questioned. However, he’s still one of the most athletic and defensively-talented players in the draft.—ANDY SEILER

JUSTIN O’CONNER, ss-c-rhp, Cowan HS, Muncie, Ind.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):The 6-foot-1, 190-pound O’Conner gets most of his acclaim as a premium draft candidate by being one of the most-explosive hitters and top two or three infielders in the 2010 prep class. He combines a powerful righthanded bat with the smooth, quick actions to play in the middle of the field. But O’Conner is so well-rounded a talent that his future may be on the mound, or even behind the plate. He has a rocket for an arm for a shortstop, and his arm strength translates easily to the mound as his fastball can reach the mid-90s. He even touched 96 in a bullpen session prior to the 2010 season. As a junior at Cowan High, he went 7-0, 0.30 with 101 strikeouts in 46 innings. But his real value in the future will almost certainly be as a position player, just to keep his explosive bat in the lineup. O’Conner set an Indiana home-run record as a junior by hitting 19 bombs, to go with a .521 average and 61 RBIs. He also won the Rawlings Home Run Derby at Perfect Game’s National Showcase last June, hitting 15 balls out of the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Many of those 15 home runs were between left-center and right-center fields, an impressive display against a BP pitcher in a home-run derby. Despite his impressive shortstop tools, some scouts see O’Conner moving to third or behind the plate at some point in the future as his speed and quickness lag for shortstop, and O’Conner is expected to see considerable time behind the plate this spring. He has signed with the University of Arkansas, and may get a better opportunity to pursue all his options in the field if he elects to attend college for three years.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): The versatile O’Conner did a little bit of everything for his high-school team this spring, but scouts were most intrigued how he handled himself as a catcher, in his first extended tour of duty behind the plate. By most accounts, he passed the test as his footwork, mobility and arm strength stood out. Most impressive were his instincts and feel for the position, and he handled the transition almost seamlessly. He threw out base runners mostly on his raw arm strength, and should increase his pop times to second as he adjusts his mechanics and incorporates more footwork in his throws. O’Conner could end up at any of a number of positions at the pro level—third base, second base, catcher, even pitcher—but shortstop appears out of the equation as he simply lacks the speed (his only below-average tool) to play the position at the next level. No matter where he ends up, his bat and raw arm strength will be significant assets.—ALLAN SIMPSON

CITO CULVER, ss/rhp, West Irondequiot HS, Rochester, N.Y.
SCOUTING PROFILE: With Suffern High righthander Robbie Aviles essentially taking himself out of the first couple of  rounds of the 2010 draft by partially tearing a ligament in his pitching elbow in early June, Culver moved squarely into position to be New York’s first high-school player drafted. Culver’s best asset is his arm strength. His fastball has been clocked up to 95 mph on the mound, but only a minority of scouts view him as a pitcher down the road. Most see him as a shortstop trying to pitch. Culver’s arm is obviously a special tool at shortstop. With his superior athletic ability, easy actions, solid hands and footwork, he profiles as a true shortstop—even as his speed is considered just average for the position. Culver’s bat is also one of his strengths. He hit .561-9-38 in 22 games this spring. A switch-hitter, he is considered a better overall hitter from the left side, with gap power, but has better raw power comes from the right side. In all probability, Culver would go out as a shortstop, with pitching a second option. Most of his considerable improvement over the last year has come on the mound, as his fastball was clocked at just 88-90 mph at Perfect Game’s World Wood Bat Association fall championship in Jupiter, Fla., last fall, and there was effort then in his delivery. Culver is a Maryland signee, and his rise in prospect status has come even with the distraction of his father being jailed for burning down the family’s home on Easter Sunday of 2008.—ALLAN SIMPSON
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