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Draft  | Prospect Scouting Reports  | 6/9/2010

Scouting Reports: First Round Supplemental (33-50)

DRAFT 2010
Supplemental First Round (33-50)
MIKE KVASNICKA, c-of, Minnesota
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):With the shortage of top-flight catchers in this year’s draft, Kvasnicka has taken full advantage of his move behind the plate this spring. He quickly moved onto the short list of top catching prospects and elevated his draft worth substantially through the early portion of the 2010 season, even though he remains a work in progress behind the plate. As an all-Big Ten outfielder in 2009, Kvasnicka hit .341-10-65 for the Golden Gophers. He appeared to profile as a corner outfielder at the next level with his good foot speed, improving arm strength and power potential from both sides of the plate, not to mention his baseball genes. His father Jay, also a University of Minnesota product, was an eighth-round pick of the Minnesota Twins as an outfielder in 1988, and reached Triple-A. But all those qualities, along with his athleticism, powerful frame and take-charge approach, made him well-suited to catch, and he took to his new position immediately when the decision was made to convert him to a full-time catcher on the eve of the 2010 season. In particular, his arm strength has shown improvement. Kvasnicka played strictly outfield last summer in the Northwoods League and was among the league leaders in batting at .314, but hit only two home runs and not everyone was sold on his ability to make the necessary adjustments at the plate to become an offensive force with wood. His swing was a little long, and pitchers exploited holes in his stroke. Even as Kvasnicka has been forced to learn the finer points of catching this spring, it has not been a distraction for him at the plate as he led the Golden Gophers in doubles (12), homers (5) and RBIs (26), while batting .323 and improving his walk-strikeout ratio to a commendable 21-8. By June, he could have plenty of appeal as a switch-hitting catcher with power potential.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Kvasnicka’s appearances at catcher have been limited to two mid-week starts since the Big Ten season has started, thus giving cross-checkers a limited chance to evaluate his potential behind the plate. He continues to swing the bat well as Minnesota has surged in the second half of the season, and was hitting .353-7-44 with 20 doubles and 39 walks through mid-May.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
AARON SANCHEZ, rhp, Barstow (Calif.) HS
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Sanchez will be just 17 when the 2010 draft is conducted, so his capacity for improvement is greater than most players in this year’s pool. Appropriately, he has made a pronounced leap in his prospect standing since last fall, and should be one of the first high-school pitchers drafted in June. A long, slender 6-foot-3, 170-pound righthander from Southern California, Sanchez is one of the most projectable pitchers in the 2010 class. His raw stuff needs very little projection, however. Sanchez has a very athletically-balanced and controlled delivery that allows his loose arm to come through clean and fast. He is stronger in his lower half now, which gives him a good base to pitch from. Sanchez’ fastball sits between 90 and 92 mph, and gets good sinking life when he gets the ball down in the zone. The pitch will top out at 95 mph, and it’s easy to project him as a consistent mid-90s thrower in the future. Sanchez also throws a low- to mid-70s curve as his breaking ball and it shows the potential to be a plus pitch, with more refinement and consistency. He’ll also drop in an 80-mph changeup on occasion. Sanchez isn’t physically mature yet, especially in his upper body, and his overall stuff started to fall off late last season. It was apparent to scouts, though, that he was much stronger this spring, and his stuff held up late into pitch counts. Sanchez is an underrated athlete, and his .550-14-36 production as a hitter in 2009 actually overshadowed his 2.94 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 46 innings on the mound.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Sanchez missed the last two weeks of the 2010 season after straining an oblique muscle, but it isn’t expected to hurt his draft stock as he was heavily cross-checked in the nine games he pitched. His record on the season was 7-0, 0.69, and in 50 innings he had 15 walks and 95 strikeouts.—DR
MATT LIPKA, ss, McKinney (Texas) HS
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Lipka, a 2009 Aflac All-American, falls under the category of “athlete” as much as anyone in the 2010 draft class. It’s due, in part, to his achievements on the football field as Lipka caught 54 passes for 1,344 yards and 22 touchdowns last fall for McKinney High. He received offers from numerous major colleges to play football and baseball, and his commitment to Alabama provides for him to play both sports. Lipka’s quarterback at McKinney High, Zach Lee, will be attending Louisiana State on a football ride, but he’s also a highly-regarded pitching prospect with a low- to mid-90s fastball. But where Lee is determined to play football in college, Lipka is more open-minded and has embraced the baseball scouting process this spring, and scouts routinely praise him for his attitude and intangibles. Another reason that Lipka falls into the category of athlete right now is that he really hasn’t defined his eventual position on the baseball field. He is primarily a shortstop at this stage in his development. Though Lipka’s arm strength and quickness are plenty strong enough for the position, his hands and actions often make him look uncomfortable playing there. He appears to be a more-natural second baseman, where his shorter actions and better balance would be a better fit. Center field is also an obvious possibility as Lipka’s 6.35-second speed and arm strength would make him a potential defensive standout. With proper rest, Lipka also has been clocked up to 91 mph on the mound, and often has been just as effective a pitcher as Lee. Offensively, Lipka has a quick, slashing swing from an open stance, and has very good upper-body and hand strength. He shows present gap power and will hit the ball to both right- and left-center field with authority, but has been pitched around extensively this spring. He’s also been flawless in 11 stolen-base attempts, but rarely gets the green light to run.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): While Lipka has been overshadowed this spring by Lee, his high-profile teammate, he has had a very strong spring, and seen his draft stock solidify in the top three or four rounds. He has improved as a hitter, becoming more-balanced and showing a greater willingness to drive balls hard to the gaps, and also use his superior speed more than trying to lift and pulls balls. One area that scouts still remain unsure of is Lipka’s ability to play shortstop on an everyday basis, as he was a regular member of the McKinney High pitching rotation (8-1, 1.36) with Lee, and didn’t get many fielding opportunities when Lee was on the mound.—DR
BRYCE BRENTZ, of-rhp, Middle Tennessee State
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Brentz is a significant two-way talent who hit his stride as a college sophomore. He had arguably the best offensive season of any player in the country in 2009, hitting .465 with 28 home runs and 73 RBIs. He was first in the nation in hitting, first in slugging (.930), first in total bases (214) and tied for first in home runs. He broke six school records. Brentz’ performance was all the more remarkable as he doubled as Middle Tennessee State’s Friday starter. He went 5-3, 4.57 with 63 strikeouts in 88 innings in that role, with a fastball that was a steady 88-92 mph. He had two other effective pitches. Though Brentz is a solid all-around athlete with professional appeal both ways, his raw power potential is unquestionably his best tool for the purposes of the 2010 draft. He has outstanding bat speed and profiles as a power-hitting right fielder. Brentz spent last summer as a member of Team USA’s college national team, and his impact was more as a position player. He made just five appearances on the mound, all in relief. While his massive power wasn’t always evident with Team USA as he homered just twice in 77 plate appearances, he hit a solid .366 and exhibited the best bat speed on the roster. He has a tendency, though, to be a dead pull hitter with an all-or-nothing swing, and can often be fooled by off-speed stuff. That fault became a little more obvious in his first 20 games this season as his average dipped to .354 and his strikeout total nearly doubled from a corresponding period in 2009. He had become a marked man, and opposing pitchers were attacking him differently than in the past. But he also launched eight homers, including several tape-measure shots. He was sidelined, though, for several games after turning his ankle in pre-game warm-ups just before the start of the Conference USA schedule. Understandably, Brentz has a plus arm in the outfield, and he’s also considered a solid-average defender on either corner with average speed. In a 2010 draft that projects to be unusually thin in proven power bats, Brentz figures to be heavily in demand and could conceivably be a mid-first round selection—a remarkable feat for a player that wasn’t drafted out of Knoxville’s South Doyle High in 2007, was viewed more favorably then as a pitcher and might have been only the fourth-best prospect on his team.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Brentz missed three weeks of play at mid-season when his ankle injury was diagnosed as a hairline fracture. He struggled prior to his injury to post numbers comparable to 2009 as he was pitched around extensively and saw a lot of off-speed stuff, and often resorted to chasing pitches. But he got on a roll after he returned to the lineup, and was hitting .366-15-48 through 40 games. The Middle Tennessee State staff withheld using Brentz as a pitcher early in the season because of some arm tightness, but entertained using him on the mound down the stretch because it felt pitching took his mind off hitting, but abandoned that idea after he got hurt.—AS
TAYLOR LINDSEY, ss/of, Desert Mountain HS, Scottsdale, Ariz.
SCOUTING PROFILE: One of the elite high-school bats in the 2010 prep class, Lindsey has hit the ball at an accelerated clip the last two years at Desert Mountain High. As a junior, he batted .592-18-73. He followed up this spring with a .594-13-40 line, and made consistent, hard contact every time up. Somewhat amazingly, he didn’t strike out even once while drawing 18 walks. Lindsey’ hopes to be a high-round pick all hinge on the bat as the remainder of his tools are average, at best. His power, speed and arm strength all grade out there, and it’s a given that he doesn’t have the range and easy actions to play shortstop beyond the high-school level. The most likely scenarios have him moving to second base, or possibly center field. As one of Arizona State’s premium signees, teams will need to gauge Lindsey’s signability closely before committing an early-round draft.—ALLAN SIMPSON
NOAH SYNDERGAARD, rhp, Legacy HS, Mansfield, Texas
SCOUTING PROFILE: Syndergaard is one of the fastest-rising prospects in this year’s draft class. Last fall, his fastball routinely topped in the high-80s. By early spring, it was in the low-90s. By his final few starts of the 2010 season, he was sitting consistently at 91-93 mph, and occasionally topping at 95-96. His velocity came easy in his loose, projectable 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame, and he maintained it deep into games. Suddenly, Syndergaard emerged as a prospect with mid-round aspirations who looked like a solid bet to fulfill his college commitment to Dallas Baptist, to one that could be a draft-day surprise selection in the top 50-75 picks. On the season for Legacy High, he went 7-3, 1.42 with 18 walks and 85 strikeouts in 59 innings. Besides his vastly-improved fastball, he also showed the makings of a solid curve and an average changeup.—ALLAN SIMPSON
ANTHONY RANAUDO, rhp, Louisiana State
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): It was evident from the day that the physically-imposing Ranaudo turned down an 11th-round offer in the 2007 draft from the Texas Rangers and set foot on the LSU campus that he would emerge as one of the best arms in college baseball and a possible elite pick in the 2010 draft. That has largely proven out. Ranaudo was dynamite as LSU’s Friday starter in 2009, going 12-3, 3.04 with 159 strikeouts in 124 innings and leading that school to its sixth College World Series title. He entered the 2010 season as the top prospect in the college game, and even money to be the No. 1 pick overall in the upcoming draft. But Ranaudo made just one start this spring for LSU, before being sidelined for a month with what was determined to be a stress reaction in his elbow. He returned in late March, making a two-inning start and appearing as good as new as he retired all six batters he faced, but it remained to be seen how he would hold up over the balance of the spring. Given his latest setback, it’s been a rockier road than expected for the former New Jersey all-state basketball player. His impact wasn’t felt as a college freshman because he was sidelined for nearly two months with elbow tendonitis and worked in only 12 innings all season. But he didn’t surrender a run and earned his only win of the season at a critical juncture, in the Southeastern Conference tournament. Ranaudo’s workload was closely monitored that summer in the Cape Cod League, and he ended up working only 19 innings while going an unimpressive 0-2, 6.63. But he showed unmistakable flashes of his immense potential, striking out 22 in 19 innings, and predictably blossomed as a sophomore at LSU. He showcased a lethal combination of electric stuff, with three above-average pitches, and pitchability well beyond his years. His fastball was consistently around 95 mph with heavy action, and peaked at 96-97. His curve and changeup were both superior pitches, too—especially with the downhill angle he generated from his lanky, 6-foot-7 frame. With his superior athleticism and fluid, effortless delivery, Ranaudo is able to maintain his velocity deep into games. Selected to play for USA Baseball’s college national team last summer, Ranaudo declined the invitation after LSU won the College World Series, citing a tired arm. With renewed elbow issues this spring, teams will have to be extra cautious in their pursuit of Ranaudo, but there’s no mistaking the superior talent.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): With an unsightly 2-2, 9.09 record in 10 appearances (9 starts) through mid-May, Ranaudo has been nowhere close to the same pitcher he’s been in the past since his return from the stress reaction in his elbow that sidelined him in March. He’s been knocked out of every start early in the game as his stuff and command have been a far cry from what scouts expected to see, raising significant concerns whether he is healthy. Ranaudo’s fastball has typically been 87-88 mph and up in the zone, while he has had difficulty throwing his change even for strikes. His breaking ball has generally not been impacted. If Ranaudo can’t reverse fortune before the draft—and given LSU’s late-season collapse, which could cost it a spot in the SEC tournament, his opportunity may be limited—and show scouts that he is not only healthy, but pitching like his old self, his stock could take a major hit. It’s almost a given, though, that a number of clubs would almost certainly risk an early-round pick on a player with considerable upside.—AS

RYAN BOLDEN, of, Madison Central HS, Madison, Miss.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Bolden is an athletically-gifted 6-foot-2, 200-pound outfielder, and one of those rare players with a “Throws Left, Hits Right” combination—much like Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson. Like Henderson, Bolden’s best present tool is his 6.58-second speed, but the scouts who like him most see him as a potential five-tool athlete. Bolden’s arm strength and defensive skills should enable him to play center field at the next level—either in pro ball or for the next three years at the University of Mississippi. He still is a little raw in his jumps and routes to balls. The biggest area for scouts to evaluate is Bolden’s bat. He has a high-waisted build with long arms, and has a long swing that isn’t always sound mechanically, although he does generate very good raw bat speed. He has shown very good power with wood to right-center field in the past, but hit only .280 with 25 strikeouts as a high-school junior, indicative that he still has a lot more work to do on his swing. Through his first 20 games this spring at Madison Central High, Bolden was hitting a more-representative .383-3-21 and had stolen 14 bases in 15 attempts.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): The highly-athletic Bolden has the best raw tools of any player in Mississippi and the surrounding area, but the flip side is he is a very high-risk talent. He’ll impress scouts with his exceptional bat speed, but it’s often negated by poor pitch recognition and his continued struggles in making contact with breaking balls. Bolden is very raw in his approach at the plate, and hit .351-8-30 this spring against subpar pitching. His speed is his most-advanced tool, and his base-running ability his most advance skill. His raw speed also plays well in center field, and his arm strength is also a significant asset. Bolden was often compared by Deep South area scouts this spring to Alabama’s best prep prospect, Reggie Golden. While Bolden is leaner and faster than the stockier Golden, his Alabama counterpart plays the game closer to major-league speed.—ALLAN SIMPSON
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Despite pitching for Team USA’s college national squad last summer, Wojchiechowski was generally not regarded as being among the elite arms for this year’s draft. He was viewed more as a third- or fourth-rounder. But that perception changed with a string of impressive outings to start the 2010 season, and he was soon being scouted as a potential first-round pick. Wojchiechowski’s first two years at The Citadel were both solid, yet unspectacular. As a sophomore, he went 3-3, 4.39, and followed up by going 2-1, 2.18 in five appearances for Team USA. The biggest area of concern heading into this year was his control as he walked 74 in his first 145 career innings. But he harnessed his stuff more consistently this year and quickly topped his 2009 win total. Through his first seven starts, he was 7-0, 2.62 with 16 walks and 68 strikeouts in 40 innings. From a prospect standpoint, Wojchiechowski has everything you look for in a power pitcher. He is physically imposing at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, and his athletic ability and durability immediately stand out. His fastball sat in the 93-94 mph range early this season, topping out at 96, and he maintained his velocity deep into games. Wojchiechowski complements his fastball with a plus slider that is consistently in the low 80s with hard, late life. He rarely uses a curve or changeup, but both pitches can flash average life. The big improvement has come in Wojchiechowski’s command; he has shown the ability to work both sides of the plate with his fastball. He also shows surprisingly good command of his power slider, and has little problem tying up lefthanded hitters with the pitch. Wojchiechowski has a clean, easy arm action that he can repeat well.--JEFF SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): After a few uncharacteristic starts in which he was hit much harder than usual, Wojchiechowski rebounded to his old ways on May 14 with a complete-game two-hitter against UNC Greensboro, where he struck out 13 and walked just one. Befitting a true workhouse, Wojchiechowski has averaged more than seven innings per start and has been a big reason why The Citadel led the Southern Conference at 21-6 with one weekend to go. He has maintained his mid-90s fastball and plus slider throughout the season, and looks solidly positioned in the latter half of the first round as the season winds down. Wojchiechowski 9-2, 3.16 ERA through mid-May; in 94 innings, he had allowed just 77 hits and 27 walks, while striking out 119.—JS
DREW VETTLESON, of/rhp, Central Kitsap HS, Tracyton, Wash.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Vettleson is one of the most versatile and entertaining prospects to watch play in the 2010 class, and has a chance to be a high draft choice in June if scouts get a fair opportunity to see him in the Pacific Northwest this spring. High-level scouts will look forward to seeing Vettleson again as he was perhaps the most dominant player at last year’s Area Code Games. He was a very polished lefthanded hitter with a smooth, fast swing and some lift at contact. He’s very balanced in the box and squares up all types of pitches consistently, and should continue to develop more power as he fills out his 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame. Vettleson hit .415-5-20 last year at Central Kitsap High. Defensively, he has prototype right-field tools with a very strong and accurate throwing arm, and above-average instincts that enhance his range. Vettleson has run the 60-yard dash anywhere from 6.98 to 7.35 seconds during the past year, so his speed is below-average on the scouting scale, but he plays above his raw speed on the field because of his superior instincts. Vettleson, an Oregon State signee, also has appeal as a righthanded pitching prospect. He can touch 91 mph off the mound and has a tight, mid-70s curveball along with a good feel for the strike zone. The truly entertaining aspect about Vettleson’s game, aside from his outstanding approach, is his ability to switch-pitch. He can throw in the mid-80s from the left side, and does a good job throwing strikes and being competitive, although some stiffness in his arm action and delivery makes it difficult to project him getting much better from this side. He went 4-2, 1.60 as a pitcher in 2009. Ironically, Vettleson was a lefthanded thrower at a young age until he was needed to fill in at shortstop on a youth baseball team. He simply switched hands, causing his dad to buy him a new glove.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Vettleson is one of three potential top-100 picks in the Washington high-school ranks, and he has often joined outfielder Josh Sale and infielder Ryan Brett in scheduled workouts this spring for scouts. Of the trio, Vettleson is generally considered the most athletic and well-rounded. His athleticism has been prominently on display for Central Kitsap High as has played shortstop for the team, and hit .490-7-29; he has also been the No. 1 pitcher, and gone 3-2, 1.35 with 71 strikeouts in 45 innings in that role. Vettleson profiles as a corner outfielder for the purposes of professional baseball. His arm grades out as a 55 (on the 20-80 scouting scale) and power 60. He has a bit of an unorthodox hitting style that may have to be cleaned up as he holds his hands far away from his body and has been susceptible to inside fastballs.—ALLAN SIMPSON
TAIJUAN WALKER, rhp, Yucaipa (Calif.) HS
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Walker was one of the fastest-rising prospects in the country during the latter part of the summer and fall seasons. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound righthander is very athletic and has prospect-level tools as a shortstop, as well. Walker is also young enough to be a member of the 2011 class, and will pitch all this spring and summer at age 17, further heightening his significant projectability. On the mound, Walker has a smooth, easy arm action with good whip out front. Walker threw only 22 innings as a junior, and his relative inexperience is evident in his delivery, which is inconsistent, at best, though the ball leaves his hand very easily. Walker’s fastball was clocked consistently at 91-93 mph at multiple events during the fall, including at the World Wood Bat Association fall championship in Jupiter, Fla., where he struck out eight hitters in three innings of work. His fastball has outstanding running life at times. Walker’s curveball has good spin and bite at 74 mph, but is inconsistent because of his mechanics. He’ll also show an occasional changeup. Most scouts have seen Walker play, even though they might not remember it clearly. He paired with 2009 supplemental first-round pick Matt Davidson to form the left side of the Yucaipa High infield a year ago—Walker at short, Davidson at third. Walker is also a top-level basketball player, not surprising given his size and athletic ability. He averaged 21 points and 15 rebounds a game as a senior.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Walker didn’t help his draft stock over the second half of the 2010 season, as he struggled with his delivery and consistency in throwing a workable breaking ball. He finished up at 6-3, 2.10 (on a 23-6 team), with 32 walks in 46 innings. He also hit .440-6-36, and was more at home at the plate and in the field than on the mound. His superior athleticism and flashes of a plus fastball still excited scouts, however.—DR

NICK CASTELLANOS, 3b, Archbishop McCarthy HS, Davie, Fla.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Castellanos is a well-proportioned, 6-foot-4, 210-pound athlete with plenty of room to get stronger as he matures physically. His best future tool is undoubtedly his power potential, although his smooth, athletic actions make him a solid all-around prospect. Castellanos is primarily a pull hitter with very good bat speed. A slight hand-hitch to start his swing gets his hands under the ball and gives him plenty of lift and extension out front. Castellanos played at Florida’s American Heritage High, the nation’s No. 1 high-school team in 2008, as a sophomore, and hit .333-8-23, but subsequently elected to transfer to Archbishop McCarthy for his junior year. He has consistently hit well against high-caliber competition on the summer/fall circuit, and his continued strong performance this spring has moved his bat ahead of most of the other top power prospects around the country. Through 18 games, he was hitting .537-5-27 and had 14 stolen bases. Defensively, Castellanos has the physical tools to stay at third base at the next level, and has actually been playing shortstop for his high-school team this spring. He is a 7.0-runner straight ahead, with good side-to-side quickness, although his long limbs make his actions very long at times and better suited for a corner at the pro level. His arm strength isn’t a plus but it’s playable, and Castellanos has soft hands and an easy release on his throws.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Castellanos enjoyed an extremely productive spring (.542-6-41) and some scouts consider him the best pure hitter in the 2010 high-school class. His stock also wasn’t hurt by his playing shortstop, where he showed enough athleticism to convince most scouts that his immediate move to third base at the next level should be permanent, as opposed to a steppingstone to first base.—DR

LUKE JACKSON, rhp, Calvary Christian HS, Southwest Ranches, Fla.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Jackson has gained increased national attention this spring as his fastball has nudged up to 95 mph at times. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound righthander throws from a close-to-overhand release point with a fast-paced delivery, and has a very fast arm coming through. Jackson is what scouts term a “pole vaulter” in that he has a short stride in front, and comes over a hard, straight front leg. This gives Jackson a good downhill angle on his pitches, but it also creates command and consistency issues. Jackson was a pretty consistent 90-92 mph over much of the past year, touching 93 mph last October at the World Wood Bat Association fall championship in Jupiter, Fla., so his increase in fastball velocity is notable. Jackson’s best secondary pitch is an upper-70s downer curve that flashes hard spin and can be a strikeout pitch when he commands it. Jackson also throws a straight changeup, but tends to slow his body on the pitch. Command has been an issue for Jackson in the past as he walked 27 in 35 innings as a junior and showed similar struggles on the summer circuit. It may take some extended time at the next level to work out Jackson’s delivery to the point where he can control the ball over an extended pitch count, but there is no doubt the arm strength is there.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Based strictly on arm strength, Jackson ranks with the upper echelon of-high school pitchers around the country. He pitched with a plus fastball much of the spring, and was often up to 96 mph. On the season, he went 8-0, 0.90 in 54 innings. His command has improved with experience, and he walked just 19, but he still isn’t consistent with either his curve or his location. Jackson signed with Miami, where changing speeds and throwing strikes are the quickest way to mound time, so it will be interesting to see how his career evolves if he doesn’t sign this summer.—DR
SETH BLAIR, rhp, Arizona State
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Blair played a pivotal role in 2009 as a starting pitcher for an Arizona State team that finished third in the College World Series, and a Cotuit club that lost out in the Cape Cod League championship series. He went 7-2, 3.39 with 78 strikeouts in 77 innings for the Sun Devils, and 3-2, 2.75 with 30 strikeouts in 39 innings in summer ball. Despite his success, Blair never flashed eye-catching stuff at either stop, though he produced good movement with everything he threw. He succeeded more with his command, ability to mix his pitches and compete, and superior feel for pitching. Mostly a sinker-baller in his approach, especially against righthanded hitters, he appeared to have plenty of room to refine his fastball to add even more sink. That development was expected to occur as a junior, by utilizing a lower arm slot and throwing his fastball a little slower. And yet Blair reversed course, and came out of the gates this spring throwing much harder than before, with a fastball that ranged anywhere from 93-98 mph in his first outing, and 91-95 in subsequent outings. He accompanied it with a hard, nasty slider. On the Cape, Blair’s fastball was customarily in the low 90s, his breaking ball was often flat and his change lacked life. He was not as effective last summer as even a year earlier at Cotuit, where he went 4-1, 1.55. There was little indication that Blair would pick up his pace dramatically as a junior at ASU. He and Australian lefthander Josh Spence were expected to be a solid 1-2 punch atop the Sun Devils starting rotation, with the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Blair given an equal or slightly better chance of becoming the earlier draft of the two in June. But Blair, who was 5-0, 3.12 with 11 walks and 42 strikeouts in his first 40 innings this spring, had opened up a significant gap on Spence by mid-season with his improved stuff, while the soft-tossing Spence, an unsigned third-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels last June, had yet to throw a pitch because of a nagging arm injury.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Blair has inched his way closer to the first round all spring as he has responded favorably to the challenge of being thrust into Arizona State’s Friday-night role. He and played a pivotal role on a team that jumped out to a 24-0 start, and was 42-5 in mid-May. Blair has maintained his new-found velocity through the spring, and his ability to spin a breaking ball and work in a changeup more frequently has made him a more complete pitcher. While Spence’s continued absence might have been viewed as a considerable hurdle for the Sun Devils to overcome, Blair has performed every bit like a staff ace, and even a workhorse.--AS
PETER TAGO, rhp, Dana Hills HS, Laguna Niguel, Calif.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Tago was born in Harbor City, Calif., but his mother is Filipino and a former All-American volleyball player; both his father and stepfather are of Samoan descent. He made a quick ascent as a prospect by going from a mid- to upper-80s righthander in 2008 to an Aflac All-American in 2009, where he topped out at 96. Though his stock appeared to level off and even regress a bit this spring, his improvement a year ago came from simple improved strength and physical maturity in his 6-foot-2, 180-pound frame as his delivery and arm stroke are as smooth and easy as any pitcher in the 2010 prep class. As a junior at Dana Hills High, Tago posted a 1.40 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 72 innings; through 32 innings this spring, his ERA was 2.65 and he fanned 31. Tago normally pitches in the 91-94 mph area, and maintains his velocity all the way through seven innings. He also gets very good sinking life on his fastball, even at 90-plus velocities. Though Tago is primarily a fastball pitcher right now, he throws a big, sweeping curve in the mid-70s as his breaking ball. He tends to drop his arm at release point, although he does get good spin on the pitch and there’s little reason why he won’t be able to get better angle on his curve or learn a slider at the next level. Tago rarely throws a changeup, another pitch he should be able to pick up given his smooth delivery and overall athleticism. Perfect Game scouts saw Tago as much as any player in the country in 2009 and got the chance to evaluate him in at least eight different events. He was most impressive during World Wood Bat Association events pitching for California’s powerful ABD Bulldgos, rather than at showcases, even though he flashed his 96-mph fastball at the Aflac game. Tago pitched the quarter-final or semi-final game at numerous national championships last summer and fall, and was consistently outstanding, particularly in an epic eight-inning win over fellow Aflac All-American DeAndre Smelter at the 17-and-under WWBA national championship in Marietta, Ga., in July.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Tago has been one of the hottest prospects in Southern California over the past month and has been cross-checked extensively. His fastball has been steadily 93-95 mph early in games and he has maintained his velocity late into appearances. Tago’s curveball has improved, but is still not a plus pitch, and that is probably the only thing holding his draft stock back a bit, though he may be a surprise earlier in the draft than projected. He was 8-3, 2.70 with 15 walks and 75 strikeouts in 73 innings this spring.—DR
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Ruffin is the son of former major-league lefthander Bruce Ruffin, who played at Texas from 1982-85 before winning 60 games and saving 63 more in a 12-year big-league career. Despite being on possibly the nation’s most talent-laden pitching staff this spring, with several potential early-round picks this year and next, Ruffin has been the most-dominant arm on the staff. Working strictly as a closer, he went 4-1, 0.51 with eight saves in his first 20 appearances. In 35 innings, he struck out 49 while allowing just 16 hits and 10 walks. He has moved seamlessly from being a very-successful starter in 2009 (10-2, 3.32, 124 IP/115 SO) to one of the top closers in the country as a junior. His success in the role has even drawn comparisons to Longhorns legend and current big-league closer Huston Street, whose build and pitching style are strikingly similar to the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Ruffin. Scouts were never particularly drawn to Ruffin when he was used as a starter as a freshman and sophomore at Texas, but they’ve taken a shine to him as a junior and believe that pitching out of the bullpen is Ruffin’s likely best role in professional ball. He has a deceptive turn in his drop-and-drive delivery that hides the ball effectively from hitters. He has also gained some velocity on his fastball pitching out of the bullpen, and now throws from 90-94 mph vs. 88-91 as a starter. Nothing that Ruffin throws is straight, and he has a very advanced feel for movement and placing pitches for a pitcher his age. Despite his increased velocity, Ruffin is still primarily a breaking-ball pitcher, much like Street was with his unhittable slider. Ruffin’s feel for pitching is most evident in the way he can blend a low-70s curve into an upper-70s slider, with a deep slurve-type break depending on what look he wants to give the hitter.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Street’s stats as a junior closer for the Longhorns in 2004: 6-1, 1.58, 12 SV, 31 G, 57 IP. Ruffin’s numbers as of May 17: 5-1, 0.87, 12 SV, 30 G, 52 IP. The eerily-similar performances are matched by their similar pitching styles (lots of nasty sliders) and demeanors on the mound (fearless).—DR

MICHAEL OLT, 3b, Connecticut
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): There were high hopes for Olt after he established his prospect worth with an impressive season as a freshman shortstop at Connecticut, and followed with a big summer in the New England Collegiate League. He hit .318 and topped the Huskies with 13 homers, 61 RBIs and a .577 slugging average, and also stole 18 bases in 20 attempts. In the NECBL, he hit .279-6-31 and made a favorable impression as a legit power threat by winning the league’s Home Run Derby. But Olt didn’t come close in 2009 to matching those numbers or living up to the hype, either at UConn (.301-8-40) or in the Cape Cod League (.218-3-14). Not only did he struggle at the plate, but in the field, as well, and was quickly moved off shortstop to third base. Olt’s bat is still his best tool and when he was going good as a freshman, he had a mature approach to hitting with easy power, especially to the pull side. But he has always been prone to inconsistent contact, and struck out a combined 95 times (60 in college, 35 in summer) in 2008, and 91 times (45 in college, 46 in summer) in 270 at-bats overall as a sophomore. He is prone to getting fooled on breaking balls, leading to ugly, out-of-control swings. But he has lots of raw power and can hit balls a long way when he connects. As a junior at UConn, Olt struggled to find consistency at the plate early and was batting .294-8-33 through 30 games, and had succumbed to strikes 32 times. Olt generally showed good actions and plenty of arm strength to play shortstop as a freshman, even as it was apparent at the time that his lack of raw foot speed and lateral movement would eventually necessitate a change to third base, or even the outfield. The change came sooner than later as Olt piled up an inordinate numbers of errors early in his sophomore year at UConn, and was moved to third at mid-season, swapping positions with freshman Nick Ahmed. By the time Olt arrived at Orleans, he had so settled in at third that he might have been the best defensive third sacker on the Cape. He committed just two errors in 34 games after racking up 21 during the spring, in just 38 games. Olt’s hands and arm strength were significant assets at Orleans, and he particularly excelled with his exchange, getting balls in and out of his glove quickly. If Olt can continue to build on his rapid defensive improvement, hit the long ball with regularity and curtail his strikeouts, he has an excellent chance to be the first college player drafted in June from New England.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): A 43-12 Connecticut team has been the talk of New England this spring, and Olt’s solid play on both offense and defense has been a big reason for the Huskies best season in years. He led the team with 20 homers, heading into the final weekend of the regular season, and was hitting .320 with 66 RBIs. In a Big East Conference showdown series against Pittsburgh in early May, which was heavily attended by scouts because of the head-to-head opportunity to match Olt and Pitt’s own top third-base prospect, Joe Leonard, the consensus had Olt outplaying Leonard in most phases, even as Leonard is rated as high as the second round on some draft boards. While concern remains over Olt’s high strikeout count, he has left little doubt that he fits the description of a prototypical third baseman at the professional level.—AS
TYRELL JENKINS, rhp, Henderson (Texas) HS
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Jenkins has been one of the fastest risers in the 2010 draft class, and moving into the first couple of rounds might be necessary to keep the multi-sport star from attending Baylor on a football scholarship to play quarterback. The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Jenkins also excels in basketball and as a hitter, in addition to his ability to throw a baseball and football. Jenkins pitched consistently in the 90-92 mph range last summer but has been touching as high as 96 mph this spring, according to scouts. He throws from a slow-paced, leg-raise delivery with a very long and loose whip-like arm action. He has both a true slider and curve, and both show very good quality at times, although Jenkins tends to lower his release point right now on his low-80s slider. His mid-70s curve is a hammer that could develop into a plus pitch. Jenkins’ overall athleticism and the fact that he has never focused strictly on baseball give scouts plenty to dream about . . . and the name they most often come up with when envisioning Jenkins is Dwight Gooden.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): The nearby Texas Rangers have four picks among the top 49 selections in the draft, and are known to be looking heavily at high-school pitchers, particularly with a Texas connection. Jenkins’ football scholarship to Baylor doesn’t invoke nearly the fear and caution that fellow Texan Zach Lee’s football ride to Louisiana State inspires.—DR