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Draft  | Prospect Scouting Reports  | 6/9/2010

Scouting Reports: Second Round (51-82)

DRAFT 2010
Second Round (51-82)
SAMMY SOLIS, lhp, San Diego
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Much like ex-San Diego lefthander Brian Matusz, the fourth overall pick in the 2008 draft, Solis had designs on being a top-10 pick in the 2010 draft. But that was before he suffered a ruptured disc in his lower back that sidelined him for all but his first two starts of the 2009 season. He went 1-1, 4.50 with no walks and 16 strikeouts in 12 innings, but was forced to take a medical red-shirt that makes him a draft-eligible sophomore this spring. The similarities between the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Solis and Matusz, his former college teammate and now with the Baltimore Orioles, are striking. Like Matusz, a fourth-round pick out of an Arizona high school who went on to a stellar three-year career at USD, Solis is a big, fluid lefthander from Arizona. He passed up an attractive offer to sign with his home-state Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007 after striking out 398, the second-best total in state 4-A history, in his high school career and pitching the Arizona Firebirds to the 2006 Connie Mack World Series title, spinning a four-hit shutout in the championship game. Solis couldn’t crack a Matusz-led rotation as a freshman at USD, but went an acceptable 3-1, 3.83 with 12 walks and 42 strikeouts in 49 innings in a swing role. He worked solely as a starter that summer in the Cape Cod League and went 3-2, 2.41 with seven walks and 32 strikeouts in 37 innings. What impressed scouts most was Solis’ excellent command for a big lefthander, and the ease with which the ball came out of his hand. His fastball was a consistent 89-91 mph, and yet he grabbed a 93 when he needed it. He created good sinking action on the pitch, and his ball jumped on hitters from his tall, clean, angular release point. He also threw consistent strikes with his curve, and his changeup was a solid third pitch. Solis was so advanced for a pitcher entering his sophomore year at USD that all he really needed to improve on were some of the little things, like holding runners better. With two years to get bigger and stronger, Solis might have been throwing 94-95 mph by the 2010 draft had it not been for his untimely injury. Through his first six starts of the current season, Solis was 4-1, 2.80 with 10 walks and 37 strikeouts in 35 innings, but he had not yet made enough strides to push him to an elite level.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): If nothing else, Solis has proven he is 100 percent healthy this spring. That alone should solidify his draft status as a late first-rounder/sandwich pick, though he has continued to pitch better as the 2010 regular season entered the home stretch. Through 11 starts, he was 8-1, 2.49 with 19 walks and 80 strikeouts in 76 innings. At his size, there is an expectation that Solis should throw harder than he does, but he’s been mostly 89-91 mph this spring, topping at 93. His changeup has been his out-pitch, and he has been able to throw it in any count. His breaking ball has been average, but is a weapon with two strikes. Most of all, Solis has succeeded with superior pitchability.—AS
STETSON ALLIE, rhp-3b, St. Edward HS, Olmsted Falls, Ohio
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): It would easily be defensible to label Allie the hardest-throwing high-school pitcher ever. While he’s never hit 100 mph at a Perfect Game event, he’s consistently pitched in the 97-99 mph range and rarely drops much below that. There have been unconfirmed reports, however, of Allie touching 102, which would obviously put the question to rest. In addition, Allie throws a slider that will reach 91 mph, and show good spin and depth when he isn’t overthrowing it. Despite his undeniable talent, Allie is nowhere close to being a sure-thing first-round draft pick in June. He has very limited experience on the mound and his chronic wildness often makes him very ineffective when pitching to talented or patient hitters. Allie’s wildness is more a product of approach than any glaring delivery faults. His arm action is fluid, but Allie often runs into trouble with his command and usually is used only in short bursts. He tends to pitch to the radar gun, rather than the batter, and is usually either outside the strike zone or right in the middle of the plate. Allie pitched only 15 innings during his junior year of high school, most during the playoffs, but allowed no earned runs while striking out 28. He then pitched only occasionally out of the bullpen last summer for the Georgia-based East Cobb Braves. It will be very telling in assessing Allie’s draft prospects this spring how he is used, especially considering that his father, Danny, is his high-school coach. If he works minimal innings again, scouts may not be able to make a valid determination on his future worth. Allie’s primary role, both in high school and for East Cobb, was as a power-hitting third baseman. He’s agile and athletic at third base, even at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, and his arm strength is an obvious plus tool. He hit .471-7-37 in high school as a junior and would likely be a high Division I-type prospect as a position player if pitching wasn’t clearly in his future. Scouts believe that Allie will routinely hit triple digits before it is all said and done, but his ability to harness his considerable stuff will be the big question.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Allie has been a man among boys this spring. Having suddenly found command of his overpowering stuff in a starting role, he has thoroughly dominated his competition with a number of low-walk, high-strikeout games. His fastball has been consistently in the high-90s and his slider in the high-80s, and he’s thrown strikes with both. While some scouts may still need to be convinced that his pitchability is for real, others have been effusive in their praise and it is apparent that he has elevated himself into the top 10 picks on many team boards with the draft less than a month away. Allie has overwhelmed high-school hitters with his superior stuff and may do the same in the lower minors or in college, but scouts caution that more experienced hitters may lay off his stuff if he is unable to throw strikes consistently. Allie has continued to play third base when not pitching, and should keep intact his record of never hitting below .400 in four years in high school, but he struggles to hit sliders and chases a lot of pitches out of the strike zone.—ALLAN SIMPSON

TODD CUNNINGHAM, of, Jacksonville State
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): In 2008, previously-unheralded Jacksonville State righthander Ben Tootle took Falmouth and the Cape Cod League by storm with a fastball that approached triple digits; a year later, it was Cunningham, a second Gamecocks player who arrived with little fanfare, and yet went on to have a breakout season. Cunningham won the batting title with a .378 average, 36 points more than his nearest pursuer. In the process, he became the third straight Falmouth player to top the league in hitting, following third baseman Conor Gillaspie (.345) in 2007 and second baseman Jimmy Cesario (.387) in 2008. Though Cunningham also led the Texas Collegiate League in batting the previous summer (at just .310, mind you) and had a solid sophomore year (.339-10-47) at JSU, he opened more eyes than any prospect in the Cape with his performance and wide range of tools—though his selection as the league’s official No. 1 prospect was challenged by scouts. No matter, Cunningham was an offensive force at the top of the Falmouth lineup, topping the league in hits (59) and on-base average (.458), in addition to batting, and placing second in slugging (.500) and runs scored (31). Though he hit just three homers, Cunningham has the raw power in his athletic 6-foot-1, 205-pound frame to hit more, but often prefers to sacrifice power for average, and gets a lot of his hits by putting the ball on the ground or going the other way. Through the first half of the 2010 season at Jacksonville State, he was hitting .363-4-18, and leading the Gamecocks in average. He has a quick bat and compact stroke, and flashes occasional power, but has excellent strike-zone awareness and is more prone to just putting the ball into play. A switch-hitter, he makes solid contact from both sides. He shows a mature, unselfish approach by taking what pitchers give him, and often sacrifices his personal goals at the plate for the good of the team. He is capable of getting down the line in 3.86 seconds from the left side, and used that speed efficiently both on the bases and in center field in the Cape. He was especially adept at running down balls hit directly over his head, somewhat surprising considering most of his career at Jacksonville State has been spent in left field. There seems little doubt he’ll settle comfortably into center field down the road, even as his arm is considered just average. Though none of Cunningham’s tools stand out, he receives high marks for his physical and mental approach to the game, especially his instincts, and for knowing what his strengths (and weaknesses) are, and maximizing them.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Cunningham hasn’t dominated mid-level college competition with the bat this spring as much as scouts were expecting, and hoping, he would, but unlike Tootle a year earlier he has pretty much held his draft value. He still has a realistic shot to go in the sandwich round. With a week remaining in the regular season, Cunningham led Jacksonville State with a .355 average, but had only eight homers and 30 RBIs, along with 18 stolen bases in 20 attempts—and he has produced those numbers as a left fielder. The trained eye of scouts, though, still sees the significant raw tools and advanced instincts, and few have wavered in their evaluation of him.—AS

BRETT EIBNER, rhp-of, Arkansas
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): There is plenty of debate among scouts whether Eibner profiles better as a pitcher or position player. He is one of the most physically-gifted prospects in the 2010 draft class, with substantial raw power in both his bat and right arm. Two years of going both ways at the college and summer-league levels has done nothing to settle the issue. The dilemma takes on an added twist as the lean, athletic Eibner, for all his talent, has never performed consistently to expectations, either at Arkansas or in two go-arounds in the Cape Cod League. Though he drilled 12 homers in 147 at-bats as a Razorbacks sophomore, he also hit just .231 and struck out an eye-popping 60 times. He took a regular turn in the Hogs rotation and amassed 67 strikeouts in 72 innings, yet walked 35 times and was a modest 5-5, 5.00. As an Arkansas freshman, he hit .298-8-48 and led the team in RBIs, but slumped badly in his first exposure to the Cape, and struck out at an alarming rate. He played sparingly in his return engagement to Wareham in 2009, arriving late from his team’s participation in the College World Series and leaving early after tweaking his elbow. In both summers, he was one of the Cape’s few five-tool athletes. Though Eibner has the obvious raw talent to excel either way, it seemed that scouts were paying increasing attention to him early this spring on the mound. In his first six starts for the Razorbacks, he went 2-2, 2.28 with five walks and 23 strikeouts in 28 innings. His raw stuff was first-round quality. But he was also hitting .300-6-19 through March, and had significantly curbed his high strikeout total. It’s entirely possible that Eibner’s career may not take off until he specializes in one area, at the expense of the other, and gets the proper reps he needs. It’s unclear what direction that will be for sure as Eibner was capable of smashing balls as far as anyone in the Cape League last summer while also running his fastball up to 94-95 mph and showing the makings of two solid secondary pitches. There has been little difference in his game this spring. If he has shown improvement in any area as a position player, it’s a better approach at the plate. He stays more in the middle of the field now instead of trying to pull everything into the left-field corner. His speed (6.8 in the 60) is an asset, both on the bases and in center field, and he obviously has the arm strength for right field. As a pitcher, he just needs to develop more stamina to go deeper into games, but that should happen once he gives up his dual role. The debate on his optimum position has raged since Eibner was a 2007 fourth-round pick of the Houston Astros. It may have been settled at the time had the Astros not been so rigid in adhering to the wishes of Major League Baseball by paying out only slot bonuses in that year’s draft. Eibner would almost certainly have signed with his hometown team—and not ended up in college—but the Astros failed to sign anyone in that draft before the fifth round. Eibner could make the Astros pay for their overly-conservative approach in the 2010 draft if he can come close to extracting the most out of his considerable talent this spring, whether as a position player or pitcher.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Most scouts have professed to like Eibner more as a pitcher, but he has complicated his draft status by simply being too good this spring as a hitter (.337-18-61 through mid-May). He has also made it well-known that he wants to go out as a hitter, not as a pitcher, and the team that selects him will likely have no choice but to let him sink or swim in the outfield first. Possibly the most notable part of Eibner’s improvement on both sides of the ball has been his improved command of the strike zone—as a hitter (33 BB vs. 40 SO) and pitcher (52 IP/9 BB/47 SO).—DAVID RAWNSLEY
LEVON WASHINGTON, of-2b, Chipola (Fla.) JC
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):An unsigned first-round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2009 draft, the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Washington would normally be the best prospect to hit the junior-college ranks. But in most drafts, there isn't a talent like College of Southern Nevada catcher Bryce Harper, who is the early favorite to be the No. 1 selection overall in this year’s draft. Where Harper has thrived as a freshman, Washington has struggled through injury-plagued fall and spring seasons at Chipola. He has flashed the vast range of tools that prompted the Rays to draft him with the 30th pick last year, but was slowed in the fall while still on the mend from shoulder surgery that impacted his senior year of high school. A hand injury incurred in an early-season base-running mishap, causing him to miss a number of games, stalled his progress this spring. He was slow to come around, both in the field and at the plate, and has not consistently displayed his superior speed in any facets of his game. Raw speed was Washington's calling card in high school, and he might arguably have been the fastest player in the 2009 draft. Though his performance was limited last spring at a Florida high school because of his shoulder injury, forcing him to DH, he hit .388 with seven homers. With his combination of speed and power, Washington still has a chance to go in the first round again, but he’ll have to turn it on down the stretch and prove he’s 100 percent healthy.—DAVID RAWNSLEY/ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Washington was finally healthy over the latter half of his freshman year at Chipola, and his tremendous raw talent was much more evident to scouts, raising the specter that he might be re-drafted in the first round. He finished the season at .341-8-25 with eight steals in 11 attempts, and while the numbers were modest by his lofty draft standard, Washington showcased electric hands at the plate, along with a keen eye and solid understanding of the strike zone. His raw speed became more of a factor on the bases, but particularly in center field, where his jumps were noticeably better. His arm continued to get stronger. Not all scouts or opposing coaches were enthralled with Washington’s play, though, as there was a common refrain that he didn’t always play hard, and was even indifferent in his approach to the game.—AS
J.R. BRADLEY, rhp-ss, Nitro HS, Charleston, W.Va.
SCOUTING PROFILE: Bradley positioned himself as a top prospect for the 2010 draft when he pitched Nitro High to the West Virginia 3-A title as a sophomore, going 9-1, 1.74 with 10 walks and 103 strikeouts in 63 innings on the season in the process. He largely duplicated that effort as a junior (9-1, 1.68, 70 IP, 13 BB/85) for a team that lost in the state final. As a senior, Bradley was 7-0, 0.33 in early May, but his efforts on the mound were no greater than his contributions as a shortstop, as he was hitting .564 and topped West Virginia high-school players in homers and RBIs for a team making another significant late-season playoff run. Bradley and his Nitro High sidekick, third baseman/righthander Andrew Pickering, are considered the state’s top prospects for the 2010 draft. Though he is a sound two-way player, Bradley’s upside is clearly on the mound as his fastball is a steady 88-92 mph, and has reached 94 this spring. Scouts also like Bradley’s projectable 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame, his clean arm action and delivery, and ability to throw three pitches for strikes. His change is his No. 2 pitch. He also has two breaking balls, but his slider is considered a superior pitch to his curve. Though West Virginia high schools rarely produce premium-round draft picks, the state could produce two in the top five rounds this year as West Virginia University infielder Jedd Gyorko, a projected sandwich-round choice, is a home-state product. Bradley’s selection would mark the third year in a row that Nitro High produces a draft pick as lefthander Chase Pickering, Andrew’s older brother, was a 43rd-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2008, while first baseman Matt Frazer was taken in the 26th round a year ago by the Kansas City Royals. Both players ended up in college at West Virginia. Bradley is a North Carolina State recruit.—ALLAN SIMPSON
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Even after his freshman year at Texas, Workman may have been the most-dominant pitcher in the Cape Cod League in 2008. He utilized a consistent hard fastball and superior breaking ball to top the league with 67 strikeouts in 55 innings, while walking just 14. His encore for Wareham wasn’t nearly as impressive as he went 1-1, 5.06 with 11 walks and 24 strikeouts in 21 innings. Though more inconsistent than a year earlier, he did flash his dominant stuff. His fastball was mostly in the 92-93 mph range, though it did spike 3-4 mph in the Cape all-star game and generally showed good life. Workman projects to throw an easy 95-97 as he gains experience and refines his delivery to take better advantage of the power in his imposing frame. His out-pitch is a nasty, 12-to-6 power curve at 78-80 mph that he is able to throw in almost any count as he has excellent command of the pitch. He doesn’t throw his changeup often, but it should be a solid third pitch with increased use. Workman, a third-round pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2007 out of a Texas high school, has excellent poise and an advanced knowledge of pitching, and clearly understands the benefit of working inside to hitters. He just needs to trust his stuff more and develop better command low in the strike zone. But Workman’s biggest challenge continues to be streamlining his pitching mechanics. He throws from a high three-quarters-to-overhand release point with a long, extended arm action in back and some effort out front on release. Despite being one of the elite arms on a College World Series runner-up team last spring, he went just 3-5, 3.48 with 82 strikeouts in 75 innings. He made just five appearances (3 starts) during the summer as he arrived on the Cape with a tired arm. But his stuff remains first-rate, and he should be an elite first-round candidate in the 2010 draft.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Workman has gradually morphed from an unharnessed talent as a Texas freshman (3-4, 5.06) to a control pitcher with power stuff as a junior. He was 10-1, 3.50 in his first 82 innings this spring, and had walked just 17 while allowing four homers. Even though he’s just been the No. 3 starter at Texas this spring behind junior righthander Cole Green and sophomore righthander Taylor Jungmann on an extraordinary college pitching staff, Workman has shown the type of consistency that should translate extremely well into success at the pro level.—DAVID RAWNSLEY

VINCENT VELASQUEZ, rhp-ss, Garey HS, Pomona, Calif.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Velasquez was well-known to southern California scouts as a very smooth-fielding shortstop with a strong right arm, although they generally regarded his bat and power potential as batting-practice tools with limited game potential. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Velasquez had resisted most attempts to move him to the mound, where his loose, projectable body and cannon arm seemed to fit best. He even signed with Cal State Fullerton last fall to play shortstop. For the purpose of pro scouts, the question of Velasquez’ future position was essentially answered at the Major League Scouting Bureau’s pre-season workout in southern California in early February. Velasquez took the mound and his fastball was a steady 92-94 mph, and he complemented it with an outstanding changeup and promising curveball. The looseness and projectability he had always shown at shortstop translated perfectly to the mound, and left scouts thinking they had a potential top-round pitcher in Velasquez for this year’s draft. His interest in converting to the mound full-time has been a matter of full-time conjecture this spring among scouts, with no certain answer yet determined.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Velasquez threw a complete-game in the first round of the California state playoffs, striking out 17 against the defending sectional champions while pitching at 91-92 mph for the entire game. The performance should only further complicate the issue of whether scouts can talk Velasquez into going into professional baseball as a pitcher, as opposed to his desire to stay at shortstop, at least at the college level.—DR
JEDD GYORKO, 3b, West Virginia
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): On the heels of pounding the ball at a .409-9-63 clip as a freshman at West Virginia, and .421-8-58 (with a school-record 28 doubles) as a sophomore, Gyorko has continued to swing the bat at an accelerated pace this spring. He has hit everywhere he has played, and finished third in the Cape Cod League with a .323 average and five homers last summer. He may have been the best pure hitter in the league with his superior bat speed and disciplined approach, and ability to use the whole field. He turned around any fastball in the league, and yet excelled at recognizing pitches, protecting the plate with a sound two-strike approach and taking what pitchers gave him. If anything, he can be exploited by a quality slider. Midway through his junior year at West Virginia, he was hitting .349-6-24 with 11 doubles. Batting leadoff for the Mountaineers, he had drawn 19 walks and struck out just seven times. While there is little debate among scouts over Gyorko’s ability to hit and to eventually hit with more power, where he’ll eventually play in the field is open to question. He has played mostly shortstop in college, and divided his time on the Cape with Brewster almost equally between second base and third. He can handle most balls hit his way, but his thicker lower half, along with his lack of speed and range will undoubtedly preclude him from staying in the middle infield at the pro level, and it’s not a certainty that he even has the desired tools to remain at third base, though his arm would play there. If anything, left field might be his logical future destination. No matter where he plays, Gyorko will earn praise for his approach to the game. It’s also a given that he will hit at any level, and it’s possible a team could take a run at him in the first round on that tool alone, but the rest of his physical package may preclude that from happening.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Through his first 51 games this season, Gyorko was hitting .380-16-52 with 24 doubles, all team-leading figures. He also had a favorable walk-to-strikeout ratio of 38-18, and committed just eight errors at shortstop. There’s little debate that Gyorko has the tools to be an impact hitter, but scouts remain confused where he will end up defensively. It’s a given it won’t be shortstop because of his lack of athleticism, although he has the hands and arm to hold his own there, just not the range. There are doubts he can play second because of his lack of lateral movement, and there’s even a question his raw power will play at third to profile there. Most likely he’ll end up at third or in left field.—AS

YORDY CABRERA, ss-rhp, Lakeland (Fla.) HS
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Cabrera has everything scouts look for in an offensive-minded shortstop. He is well-schooled in all phases, and his polish and feel for the game are readily evident. As a junior at Lakeland High, Cabrera hit .462-4-28 and stole 19 bases in 20 in attempts, and his superior power/speed package were regularly on display. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Cabrera is exceptionally strong for a shortstop with a near-ready big-league body. He has loose and athletic actions for his size, and moves quickly to the ball with very good balance. How well he maintains his agility will be one of the areas that scouts key in on most this spring, as he was showing signs last summer that he might be losing range. Cabrera’s arm strength is easily in the plus area on the pro-scouting scale and he can make throws from all angles. He is a 6.65 runner underway, although he’s more of a power player offensively and defensively. He has plus bat speed at the plate. Although he really hasn’t started to harness his power potential yet during games, he clearly showed his potential by winning the 2009 Aflac All-American Game home-run derby. Cabrera would also be a top pitching prospect if it weren’t for his abilities as a position player; his fastball touches 94-95 mph, and he has a good feel for pitching. Cabrera is one of the oldest prep prospects in the 2010 class, as he will turn 20 years old in October. Cabrera’s father, Basilio, is a minor-league coach in the Detroit Tigers organization.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Cabrera had a relatively-quiet spring for a top prospect, as much of the scout chatter in Florida seemed more focused on shortstop Manny Machado and third baseman Nick Castellanos down in Miami, and A.J. Cole up in Oviedo. Cabrera remains a potential first-round pick, although his lack of success and polish on the mound this spring (4.71 ERA in 19 IP) seems to have quieted talk about his fallback potential as a pitcher.—DR

GRIFFIN MURPHY, lhp, Redlands East Valley HS, Highland, Calif.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Murphy has been one of the most heavily-scouted high-school pitchers in southern California this spring, and has moved solidly into top-3 round consideration. The powerfully-built 6-foot-3, 200-pound lefthander bumped up his draft stock through improvement in two key areas. His fastball, thrown from a high three-quarters release point from a fairly fast-paced delivery, has consistently been 90-91 mph this year, up a couple of notches from 2009. He has been topping out at 93, while keeping the ball down in the strike zone. Just as important for a southpaw, Murphy’s mid-70s downer curve has really improved as he’s learned to get over the top of it and out front far more consistently than in the past. Murphy’s changeup is a solid third offering that should keep improving, and he does a good job throwing strikes with all his pitches. A University of San Diego signee, Murphy was 7-0, 0.76 with a save through the mid-point of the 2010 season. In 37 innings, he had walked 10 and struck out 54. While Murphy’s stock has taken a solid jump this spring, the player who had been identified as the best prospect on the Redlands East Valley roster, righthander/shortstop Tyler Shreve, has tumbled out of the picture. A University of Utah quarterback recruit, Shreve was dismissed from the baseball team early in the 2010 season.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Unlike many high-school pitchers, Murphy has been extremely consistent all spring while posting an 11-1, 1.27 record in 71 innings with 103 strikeouts. His fastball has topped out at 92-93 mph early on, and settled into the 87-89 range with significantly improved pitchability. His curveball has been a reliable third pitch in the 75-77 mph range. Dependability, coupled with good health, often moves a high-school pitcher up draft boards in the weeks before the draft, and Murphy could end up climbing as high as the second round.—DR
RYAN LaMARRE, of, Michigan
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): LaMarre’s 2010 season got on the wrong foot when he dove for a ball in Michigan’s second game of the season and sustained a broken thumb. He had four pins inserted and missed the next 18 games. While he was hitting .450 through early May, his power was slow to return as he had homered just twice. LaMarre was a significant football and hockey player in high school, and his baseball career was a little slower to evolve than most top college prospects in the 2010 draft class. He hit a modest .305-3-23 as a freshman at Michigan, but jump-started his prospect status as a sophomore by leading the Wolverines in batting (.344) and RBIs (62), and placing second in home runs (12). With his ability to flash all five tools, the strong-framed LaMarre appeared primed to be an impact player in the Cape Cod League last summer, but instead struggled at the plate and even had to learn to deal with failure as he hit just .236-0-14, while striking out 39 times in 140 at-bats for Wareham. It was hardly a lost season, however, as LaMarre showed a lot of positive signs in his approach to hitting. He continued to make adjustments to his quick-twitch swing, and learned to trust his hands more. He showed plenty of pop in batting practice, especially when he stayed through the baseball. But his raw power didn’t show up consistently in game conditions as he had a tendency of getting off balance in his stride, impacting his pull-side power. His best power was generally to the middle of the field, and though he drove a number of balls to the center-field fence, none went over. His jumps and ability to track balls in center field are his most advanced skill. LaMarre’s arm and speed are also solid tools. Between his sophomore season at Michigan and summer-league experience at Wareham, he stole 28 bases in 2009. With more reps at the plate, LaMarre was expected to emerge as an offensive force as a junior at Michigan, and solidify his spot as a second- or third-round pick in the 2010 draft. But his thumb injury has impacted his development, and his ability to expand on his power production in the weeks leading up to the draft may determine his fate.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): While scouts were still waiting to see LaMarre’s power return with a week remaining in the regular season, they had developed a good enough appreciation for him as a hitter overall that they seemed to come to an acceptance that it’s there, that it would just be a little longer than expected to return. LaMarre was hitting .398-5-28 in 29 games, and twice had earned Big Ten player-of-the-week honors since his return from the disabled list. Many area scouts began comparing LaMarre to A.J. Pollock, the former Notre Dame center fielder who was taken with the 17th pick in the 2009 draft. LaMarre may not go quite that high, but his tools, skills and athleticism are very similar to Pollock’s.—AS
JACOB PETRICKA, rhp, Indiana State
SCOUTING PROFILE: The Chicago White Sox saw some upside in Petricka when they drafted him in the 38th round out of a Minnesota high school in 2006. The New York Yankees saw the same, when they took a stab at the 6-foot-5, 185-pound Indiana State red-shirt sophomore righthander a year ago. But no one envisioned that Petricka would evolve into the prospect he’s become this season as a junior with the Sycamores, especially in the second half of the 2010 season. Petricka’s 7-4, 3.74 record (through mid-May) is marginally better than a year ago (7-3, 4.76), but his overnight dominance this season is reflected in his strikeouts-to-innings ratio that has improved from 49 in 74 innings in 2009, to 95 in his initial 87 innings this season. Mainly through weight lifting, Petricka worked hard in the off-season to build strength and stamina, and he not only has significantly greater velocity this spring, but he has been able to hold it deeper into games. He has reached 97 mph easily and effortlessly, and one report even had him reaching triple digits. Petricka was particularly dominating in a mid-April match-up with Missouri Valley Conference foe Wichita State, when he allowed three hits and struck out nine in a 2-0 win. His fastball routinely reached 97. That effort may have certified him as a legit early-round pick in this year’s draft. Petricka’s fastball can often be straight, and hittable, and his secondary stuff (a solid-average breaking ball and an evolving changeup) is considered just ordinary, but he has improved the command of all his pitches, and his fastball has obviously opened a lot of eyes. Petricka has come a long way in a short period of time for a pitcher who wasn’t drafted in two years at Iowa Western JC (he missed one season with Tommy John surgery), and couldn’t crack the 30th round in his other two efforts.—ALLAN SIMPSON
JIMMY NELSON, rhp, Alabama
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Nelson has emerged this spring as the ace of the Alabama staff, posting a 5-1, 3.90 record through his first 11 starts. In 65 innings, he walked 19 and struck out 59. It’s the first real success he has enjoyed in his career for the Crimson Tide. Used mostly in relief in his first two seasons at Alabama, he went 2-3, 4.54 in 2009 and 3-3, 6.26 in 2008. The jumbo-sized righty had a knack for excelling in summer competition as a starter, and it was readily apparent that he would be used in that role as a junior. His game has responded accordingly. Nelson topped the Texas Collegiate League in strikeouts by a wide margin in 2008, fanning 66 in 49 innings, and then repeated the feat last summer in the Florida Collegiate Summer League by whiffing 75 in 59 innings. He struck out 23 more than his closest competitor in the FCSL, while going 4-4, 2.76. Nelson can throw his fastball with average velocity (88-92 mph), but it’s his 80-82 mph slider that most impresses scouts and results in many of his strikeouts. It projects as a solid major-league pitch, but Nelson needs to continue to refine his changeup to thrive in a starting role. Nelson’s command improved considerably last summer, and he generally pitches better when he works aggressively with his fastball—both in getting ahead in counts, and in putting hitters away. Scouts believe there’s more velocity in his big frame.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Nelson’s velocity was steady all spring for the Tide, and even spiked to 95-96 mph in a late-season SEC series against Mississippi State. While the industry views Nelson generally as a 4th-6th round pick, he could easily be selected higher than that as there are a handful of teams that like his big frame, and above-average fastball and slider, and see him as high as the second round, in a future closer role. As Alabama entered NCAA super-regional play, Nelson was 8-3, 3.92 with 28 walks and 94 strikeouts in 103 innings.--AS
REGGIE GOLDEN, of, Wetumpka (Ala.) HS
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Golden is a five-tool talent from Alabama, and his very muscular build and overall athleticism have drawn comparisons locally to fellow Alabama native Bo Jackson, his boyhood idol. Golden, however, has focused on just baseball since giving up football after ninth grade, despite his obvious potential in that sport. Despite his broad-shouldered and thick running-back-type build, Golden is a very loose athlete who performs the basic baseball skills with low-effort ease. He’s run the 60 in as quick a time as 6.50 seconds, and has immediate acceleration with his first step that should translate to plenty of stolen bases at the next level of the game. Golden’s swing is powerful and short, and the ball jumps hard off his bat to all fields. His swing isn’t a classic power swing, but he’ll hit his share of home runs due to his raw strength and bat speed. Golden hit .458-9-30 as a junior at Wetumpka High, virtually duplicating his .459/11 HR totals as a sophomore. His defensive game is very advanced for his age. He gets very good jumps in the outfield and takes direct routes to balls. His arm strength grades out as a plus on the pro scout’s scale and his throws are low and on-line. Golden was clocked at 90-92 mph off the mound at Perfect Game’s National Showcase last summer, although he doesn’t pitch regularly in high school. He has signed with a home-state school, Alabama.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Golden wasn’t in top form most of the 2010 season as he had a nagging hamstring injury that limited his ability to run, and caused him to miss a number of games. In the 27 games he did play, he hit .460-5-24 and stole 12 bases. It was apparent to scouts that Golden was not the same player that he had been in the past, but there is still no denying his exceptional tools, and they should be even more evident at the pro level. Golden’s injury is not expected to harm his draft standing, and he had an MRI after the season to both determine the severity of the injury and give scouts peace of mind. The report came back clean. He still projects as a sandwich pick to early second-rounder.—ALLAN SIMPSON
JAKE THOMPSON, rhp, Long Beach State
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Thompson is still in catch-up mode after skipping his senior year of high school to enroll in college a year early. He showed signs of his considerable upside in 2009 as both a sophomore at Long Beach State (4-7, 5.61, 85 IP/42 SO) and in a return engagement to Chatham in the Cape Cod League (1-2, 7.71, 14 IP/12 SO), but was plagued throughout by his youthful inconsistency. He ran his fastball into the 92-96 mph range on a regular basis, but struggled to locate it and ended up throwing too many pitches. He’ll have three average or better pitches in his arsenal in the long run, but may need to scrap his curve or slider, both just OK pitches, to concentrate on developing one superior breaking ball, to go with his fastball and changeup. Entering the 2010 season, Thompson had marginally improved his delivery and stuff since high school, but it was apparent early on that he had made major strides. Through his first seven starts, he was 4-0, 3.64 with 13 walks and 41 strikeouts in 47 innings. He should vault up draft boards this spring if he can continue to show dramatic improvement as a junior.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): There are two schools of thought on Thompson. For those scouts who care most about stuff and upside, Thompson could be a solid second-round pick in this year’s draft. The big, physical righthander has worked mostly in the 93-96 mph range this spring, and complemented his fastball with a solid-average changeup. For those scouts who place more stock in performance, Thompson may not be their guy. After an encouraging start to the 2010 season, his performance leveled off in the second half and he was just 5-3, 5.23 with 21 walks and 72 strikeouts in 84 innings, heading into his final regular-season start. It will mark the third consecutive year that Thompson’s ERA has been above 5.00. Though he made considerable strides in improving his walk-to-strikeout ratio this season, hitters still made too much hard contact off his fastball. While above-average in velocity, it was often straight and up in the zone. His inability to master a breaking ball also contributed to his uneven performance. Additionally, there are questions just how projectable Thompson is as he already has a fully-developed frame.—AS
MARCUS LITTLEWOOD, ss, Pineview HS, St. George, Utah
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Littlewood is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound switch-hitting shortstop who ranks among the top defensive players in the 2010 class. But that assessment might be more of an indictment on this year’s draft, which is painfully thin in true, elite-level shortstops. Littlewood is an accomplished defender, but he doesn’t have blazing speed or quick-twitch actions, or a rifle throwing arm. Instead, he is exceptionally-balanced and instinctive, with the footwork of a veteran big-league shortstop. In some ways, Littlewood’s physical stature is ideal for a shortstop. He has wide hips for his build, which give him his balance, plus long arms. He’s especially good at charging balls, and does a great job circling ground balls in order to be perfectly-positioned to make quick, accurate throws. Offensively, the switch-hitting Littlewood has pretty equal tools and bat speed from each side of the plate, even though he took up hitting from the left side only as a high-school freshman. He stung the ball at a .531-6-22 clip as a junior at Pineview High, leading to his selection as the Utah player of the year. His swing is a bit on the long side and he’s primarily a pull-hitter from both sides of the plate now, with enough strength to reach the gaps. But he has good hand quickness and projects power in the future. Littlewood, a University of San Diego signee, has an extensive family baseball background, which explains his advanced approach to the game. His father Mike was a minor-league infielder in the Milwaukee Brewers organization and is entering his 15th year as the head coach at Dixie State College, a team that won the 2004 Junior College World Series and has since upgraded to the NCAA Division II level.—DAVID RAWNSLEY/ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Littlewood hit .481-6-20 in his first 21 games for Pineview High this spring, and with his reputation was pitched around extensively, drawing 27 walks. He has been a high-profile player in the Utah high-school ranks since he was a freshman, and a case has been advanced this spring by area scouts that he’s the best high-school position player ever to come from Utah. State high schools have produced just two first-rounders in 45 years, both lefthanders—Bruce Hurst in 1976, Mark Pawelek in 2005—and no position players in the first two rounds. Littlewood could end that drought, though scouts caution that his lack of speed and quickness are significant enough drawbacks for him not to be taken that high. If he’s not scooped up in the first three rounds, his signability then becomes an issue, and he could slide. So it may be third round, or bust, in Littlewood’s case.—AS

DREW SMYLY, lhp, Arkansas
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Smyly has an excellent shot of being drafted in the top two or three rounds in June, and yet may be no higher than the fourth player selected from a talent-filled Arkansas roster. Third baseman Zach Cox and righthander/outfielder Brett Eibner are certain to be drafted ahead of Smyly, and first baseman Andy Wilkins has an excellent shot. All three had much-higher profiles than Smyly when they enrolled at Arkansas. Smyly had an injury-plagued senior year at Little Rock’s Central High after setting school records for wins (10) and strikeouts (118) as a junior, and the 6-foot-3, 190-pound lefthander was even red-shirted as a freshman as he had two screws put in his elbow to address a stress fracture. Though he went only 3-1, 4.66 in 14 starts for Arkansas in 2009, Smyly’s stock climbed significantly when he played a crucial late-season role for the Razorbacks during the team’s impressive run to the College World Series. In the regional-clinching game, he threw 8-1/3 innings of no-hit ball, while striking out a career-high 12. He arrived late in the Northwoods League last summer as a result, and also left early, and didn’t win a game in seven starts. In 40 innings, he went 0-3, 3.32 and struck out 44 in 39 innings. While he eventually got locked in and was throwing his fastball at 90-92 mph, both downhill and with sink, it was evident that Smyly took a while to alter his approach last summer to attack hitters using wood. “He was a little shell-shocked coming here after facing aluminum bats,” one Northwoods League coach said. With a fastball that has touched 94-95 mph this spring, along with an improved breaking ball and changeup, Smyly rolled to a 4-0, 1.99 record in his first eight appearances, and struck out 45 in 49 innings, though walked 22. With a loose, projectable body and a well-rounded arsenal, the best is yet to come for Smyly.—ALLAN SIMPSON/PATRICK EBERT
UPDATE (5/15): The addition of a cutter to his repertoire, and Smyly’s advanced ability to change speeds on all his pitches has contributed to a highly-successful year pitching as a Friday-night starter in the SEC. As Arkansas entered his final weekend of conference play, Smyly was 8-1, 2.40 with 29 walks and 86 strikeouts in 79 innings. There don’t seem to be many medical/durability questions remaining with Smyly, despite his history of elbow problems.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
KELLEN SWEENEY, 2b-of, Jefferson HS, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Sweeney has matured into a solidly-built 6-foot-1, 190-pound athlete since his first appearance at a Perfect Game event while he was in the seventh grade. Even back then, the PG scouting staff felt that the left-handed hitting Sweeney had better pure hitting tools than his older brother Ryan, now an outfielder with the Oakland A’s, although he didn’t have his strength and overall athleticism. That opinion has been largely born out to this point as Sweeney has very quick hands and developing strength, along with a very-practiced batting eye. The combination makes him one of the top lefthanded hitters in the 2010 class. Sweeney’s ability to hit the ball hard to all fields, especially his power to left-center, stands out among his peers. His optimum defensive position is still up in the air. Sweeney underwent Tommy John surgery last August after an ill-fated trip to the mound during a high-school game, but was throwing and hitting against live pitching in February and playing outdoors in the Iowa Spring Wood Bat League in late March. Sweeney has played extensively at shortstop and also seen time in the outfield, but most scouts see him as an offensive-minded second baseman in the Chase Utley-mode in the future. Despite being from the upper Midwest, Sweeney is as experienced and polished as any of his Sun Belt peers, especially with a bat in his hands. Where Ryan once committed to attend college at San Diego State before being drafted in the second round by the Chicago White Sox, Kellen is a University of San Diego recruit.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Sweeney’s performances late this spring have been steady if unspectacular, which is pretty much the type of player he projects to be at the professional level. One thing to note for future analysis. If Sweeney does become a regular at the major-league level, look for him to draw more than 100 walks per season.—DR
ANDRELTON SIMMONS, rhp-ss, Western Oklahoma State JC
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Though tucked away in an isolated, wind-swept corner of southwest Oklahoma, Western Oklahoma State has managed to assemble an active talent pipeline to equally-obscure parts of the baseball globe, and tapped into some intriguing prospects. Over the last two years, the Pioneers have gone 105-24 overall and made consecutive appearances in the Junior College Division II World Series. Their success has come largely from the contributions of players like shortstop Juan Carlos Perez, a previously-unknown player from New York who hit a scorching .465-37-102 as a freshman in 2008 and set a D-II record for homers in a season. A second player with New York ties, Danny Almonte, was considerably more well-known from his highly-publicized charade as an overage Little Leaguer a decade ago. He found his way to WOSC in a very round-about way and hit a combined .485-32-153 over the last two years, while going 16-1 as a pitcher. But the Pioneers have gained most of their notoriety for uncovering players from off-beat locations like the Virgin Islands, Aruba and Curacao, and have players on their roster this season from six different Caribbean island nations. Last year, Aruban freshman outfielder Randolph Oduber (.472-32-98) was the team’s offensive star; righthander Jamaine Cotton, from the Virgin Islands, won 10 games. Both players were drafted by the San Francisco Giants (Cotton in the 28th round, Oduber in the 48th), but chose to return to WOSC for their sophomore seasons. While they remain on the radar of most scouts in the area, they have been thoroughly upstaged this spring by the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Simmons, a freshman two-way player from Curacao. Though he was a member of Netherlands Antilles teams that participated in major international baseball events in Holland and Venezuela in 2008, Simmons was better known in Curacao as a soccer player. But after playing last summer for Yorkton of Canada’s Western Major Baseball League prior to enrolling last fall at WOSC, it was apparent that Simmons had moved to the forefront as a baseball talent. A shortstop primarily, he impressed scouts with his live, active frame and legitimate middle-infield actions and skills traditionally found in Latin Americans. Though his bat had a way to go, Simmons showed all indications last fall of becoming the best prospect on the WOSC roster entering the 2010 season, a possible third-to-fifth-rounder. But that estimation was before scouts got a close-up look at Simmons this spring on the mound. With an extremely easy arm action, a fastball at a steady 93-95 and the makings of a quality breaking ball, Simmons had scouts scurrying to tiny Altus, Okla., to get a better look at one of the most unheralded prospects in this year’s draft. Some came away saying Simmons could nudge his way close to the first round in June if he continues to showcase his superior stuff. Through the first 29 games of WOSC’s season, Simmons was hitting .432-6-26 with 10 stolen bases. But the more relevant numbers were clearly in his pitching line: 1-0, 0.75 with 17 strikeouts in nine innings.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): While Simmons’ team stretched its record on the 2010 season to 50-4 and became an early favorite to win the D-II Junior College World Series, Simmons played just a marginal role in the second half as he fractured his small toe on a ball hit up the middle, and didn’t play for four weeks. That may end up hurting his stock for the draft, as scouts had such little history on him to begin with. Just before he was hurt, his fastball was clocked at 94-96 mph, his slider at 83-85 and his curve at 77-79, and his pitchability was better than early in the season. But by mid-May, he had worked in just 11 innings (1-0, 0.62, 19 SO). As a hitter, he was batting .439-7-31. Scouts were pretty much split on his future role, but the inclination was that he would go out initially as a position player, and move to the mound if that didn’t pan out. Though he has easy, fluid actions, excellent hands and obvious arm strength at short, he’s just a 7.0 runner in the 60, and his lack of speed may doom his long-terms hopes there.—AS
NIKO GOODRUM, ss-of, Fayette County HS, Fayetteville, Ga.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Goodrum is a very athletic 6-foot-4, 190-pound switch-hitter who has moved significantly up prospect charts this spring. Late in 2008, when Goodrum played at a Perfect Game showcase, he had a slender, basketball-player type build that was projectable but lacking in baseball strength. He has added at least 15 pounds of hard muscle since then, with a noticeable impact on his raw bat speed. Goodrum has a smooth, easy stroke from the left side of the plate and the ball comes off his bat hard. His swing from the right side is longer and less polished, but he should be able to continue switch-hitting at the next level. What position Goodrum plays in the future is open to question. He has played both shortstop and the outfield in the past, and has smooth, gliding athletic actions that are suitable for either. He’s an average big-league runner underway, but his size may force him to eventually move to a corner. Goodrum’s arm strength is solid for any position. Another thing that stands out about Goodrum, according to scouts, is that he has A-plus makeup, and they feel that he will do everything possible to maximize his physical tools.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Goodrum has continued his rise up boards all spring as his high-energy play and production have not gone unnoticed by scouts. His athleticism continues to stand out, and his tools are all average or better. Scouts have started to make up their minds about Goodrum’s future position, and the consensus seems to be that he’s going to center field, as he simply lacks the defensive tools to be an adequate defender at shortstop. However, his offensive ceiling is solid, and he does have the right tools to be a solid center fielder at the next level, and should be an early pick, possibly by the third round.—ANDY SEILER
CODY BUCKEL, rhp, Royal HS, Simi Valley, Calif.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Buckel is your prototypical slender 6-foot righthander, but one of the best in that demographic in the country. He has been a high-profile pitcher in the Southern California prep ranks for four years, and his stock for the 2010 draft has gone up this spring as he opened the season at 7-0, 0.72 with 62 strikeouts and only five walks. The highlight game of Buckel’s senior season was a one-walk, 10-strikeout no-hitter against Westlake High and its slugging first baseman Christian Yelich, which was watched by dozens of scouts. Buckel also pitched for the 2008 U.S. national youth (16-and-under) and 2009 U.S. national junior (18-and-under) teams, going a combined 3-0 with 23 strikeouts in 14 innings. When not pitching, Buckel plays shortstop for Royal High, and he was hitting .441-2-18 this spring with 12 successful stolen-base attempts in a row. It’s possible he could end up playing that position at Pepperdine should he fulfill his commitment to that school. Buckel also finds time to sing and act in a stage version of the hit musical “High School Musical.” It’s on the mound, though, that Buckel truly shines. He throws from a fast-paced delivery and a close-to-overhand release point. His fastball is consistently in the 90-93 mph range and he throws both a mid-70s curveball and a low-80s slider, although his curve is clearly his best secondary pitch. Buckel has consistently shown the ability to repeat his delivery and throw quality strikes.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Buckel did his best this spring to overcome scouts’ hesitance over his size and build by throwing consistently well all season, while also playing shortstop when not pitching. He threw five shutouts en route to a solid 11-1, 0.49 record with 14 walks and 115 walks in 71 innings. He also stood out at the plate, hitting .402-5-27.—DR
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): For a 5-foot-10 pitcher with an underwhelming 4-4, 6.21 record overall in his first two years at UCLA, Rasmussen would hardly seem to qualify as an early-round candidate for the 2010 draft. But his performance in the Cape Cod League last summer, not to mention his being lefthanded, tells a different story. Rasmussen went an impressive 4-0, 1.80 with 11 walks and 46 strikeouts in 35 innings for Orleans. He was also the starting pitcher for the Eastern Division in the league’s all-star game, and it was that one-inning stint at Boston’s Fenway Park that opened a lot of scouts’ eyes. A fastball that was a customary 90-91 mph during the regular season suddenly spiked to 94, giving him a second above-average major-league pitch to go with his bread-and-butter offering, a curveball that is big-league quality all the way in terms of its rotation, velocity and depth, and his ability to throw it equally effectively for strikes or as a swing-and-miss pitch in the dirt. His changeup was an effective third pitch, and he’ll occasionally drop in a hard slider. With his power stuff, Rasmussen is anything but a crafty lefty. He not only has a very fast arm but throws everything with an extremely easy delivery. Even with his impending status as an early-round pick, Rasmussen ranks as no better than the No. 3 starter on the UCLA pitching staff this spring as probable 2011 first-rounders Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer have had first dibs on the top two spots. The trio was responsible for UCLA’s record 22-0 start, before the school finally lost. Rasmussen played no small part in the team’s early success, going 4-0, 2.95 with 55 strikeouts in 37 innings.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Rasmussen wasn’t able to maintain his strong early-season pace, and slumped at mid-season. But he just as quickly righted his ship down the stretch and was 7-2, 3.15 with 23 walks and 90 strikeouts in 71 innings through mid-May. Outside of possibly No. 1-ranked Texas, it’s almost safe to say that no college team in the country has had a Sunday starter this spring to match Rasmussen—either in terms of performance or upside. In particular, his walk-to-strikeouts ratio has been a vast improvement over 2009. Rasmussen’s fastball has been a steady 90-92, topping at 93, but his best pitch remains his undefined breaking ball—a cutter or slider, for some, just a hard curveball for others.—AS
JARRETT PARKER, of, Virginia
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): For a player who made a quantum leap forward as a prospect from his freshman year at Virginia to his sophomore year, improving from a .264 average with no homers to .355 with a team-leading 16 long balls, Parker was one of the biggest disappointments in the Cape Cod League last summer. He hit just .188-1-13, and looked overmatched at times by striking out 37 times in just 96 at-bats. His swing looked long and slow, and pitchers busted fastballs past him with relative ease. It seemed apparent, though, that he was worn down after a long season at Virginia, and the decline in his performance actually started during the school’s first-ever appearance in the College World Series before he reported to Brewster. He also had his wisdom teeth removed at the start of the summer, and lost weight (and strength) in the process. But Parker also didn’t play in the summer following his freshman year at Virginia, so his summer on the Cape was his first extended exposure to wood and he broke a lot of bats early in the season as he was challenged to put the sweet part of the bat on balls consistently. His slump extended to his junior year at Virginia. Through the first half of the 2010 season, he was hitting a soft .306-2-26, though had curbed his strikeouts to just 24 in 111 at-bats. Parker has a habit of opening his front side too soon at the plate and getting out front on pitches, a sign of being overanxious. That points to a flaw in his technique, and Parker struck out a whopping 80 times at Virginia as a sophomore, nearly double his freshman total. So while he set school records for runs (76), hits (94) and total bases (176) last spring, and led the Atlantic Coast Conference in triples (7) and extra-base hits (42), there was a red flag in his approach to hitting. When Parker squared up a ball, though, it jumped off his bat and sounded different than most other hitters. He drove balls a long way to all fields. But he still needs to do a better job of looking for his pitch as he’s a bit too much of a free swinger and wants to pull too many balls. The rest of Parker’s package is first-round quality. He is very athletic in his projectable 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame, though needs to add strength to improve his stamina. He runs very well, is a proficient base stealer and excels at tracking balls in center field. His arm is also a weapon, though he has a tendency of dropping his arm slot, causing his throws to tail more than desired. More than anything, Parker just needs to improve his contact and mature as a ball player. Even with a relatively slow start to his 2010 season, he should warrant a long look in the first round in June.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Parker’s Jekyll and Hyde 2010 season caused a lot of angst among scouts initially, but it seemed to take an upward turn with one swing of the bat in mid-April against Virginia Tech’s Jesse Hahn, when Parker took the fireballing righthander and potential 2010 first-rounder deep, with a prodigious blast to the opposite field. Parker suddenly starting hitting the long ball at a rate more in line with his breakout 2009 season, and was hitting .337-8-48 through mid-May, and shared the club lead in homers. Though he still led the Cavaliers in strikeouts (43, in 52 games), his strike-zone awareness improved noticeably, and he began taking better, more competitive at-bats. Prior to his blast again Hahn, Parker seemed to be a classic victim of draft-itis as he would fidget with his approach to hitting almost at-bat to at-bat, moving from a stride to no-stride approach, to a crouch vs. no crouch set-up, to a different hand placement on the bat. At times, Parker looked more like a simple role player than a potential first-rounder, but when his offense got untracked, he looked very much like the long, lean player with a solid speed/power combination and legit center-field skills.—AS
JORDAN SWAGERTY, rhp-c, Arizona State
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): If there was doubt which position Swagerty should play, he has pretty much put that to rest this spring. Swagerty was installed as Arizona State’s closer from the get-go, and played a pivotal role as the Sun Devils raced out to a 27-1 start and claimed a No. 1 national ranking. In 19 appearances covering 19 innings, he went 1-0, 0.93 with eight saves, and walked seven while striking out 25. Not only has Swagerty’s performance stepped up from a year ago, when he went 4-1, 4.50 with four saves while being used in a variety of roles, but his stuff has taken a big leap forward. His fastball has been a steady 92-95 mph, up 2-3 mph, and he has complemented it with a nasty curve. He also has had an effective changeup with split-finger action. Though not overly physical in his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame, Swagerty’s take-charge attitude and mentally-tough demeanor make him ideal to close. In addition, he has a good feel for pitching and can pound the strike zone with his three-pitch mix. Though Swagerty has been primarily a pitcher in his two years at Arizona State, he was used extensively in a variety of positions, notably catcher, in a decorated career at a Texas prep school. He spent more time at first base than any position last summer in the Cape Cod League—in deference to catching—in order to preserve his arm. In 56 at-bats for Wareham, he hit .286-1-2, walked just once and struck out 18 times. He played nine games at first for the Gatemen, eight behind the plate and also made six brief pitching appearances, where his fastball peaked at 93. Swagerty showed surprisingly polish from both sides of the plate last summer, considering his relative inactivity with the bat, and still has his share of supporters as a catching prospect, even as his catching skills have been very difficult to evaluate since he has caught sparingly in his career, even in high school. He was an understudy to current top Texas catching prospect Cameron Rupp as a junior, and played mostly in the infield as a senior to protect his arm. Swagerty was a dominant player on both sides of the ball at Texas’ Prestonwood Christian Academy, and scouts were split then whether he had more upside on the mound or behind the plate. As a senior in 2008, he hit a robust .560-11-62, and also went 11-2, 0.50 with 10 walks and 147 strikeouts in 83 innings. As a junior, he hit .484 and went 12-0. Though Swagerty worked mostly in the 88-91 mph range in high school, he mastered hitters with his dominant curve and outstanding feel for and command of his pitches. He also excelled as a position player with his switch-hitting ability, and his quick, athletic actions. The Colorado Rockies drafted Swagerty in the 47th round in 2008, ostensibly as a pitcher. Though it was a foregone conclusion that he would attend Arizona State, it was unclear whether he would focus on pitching or catching, or both, for the Sun Devils. That dilemma appears to have been resolved. With a July 14, 1989 birthdate, Swagerty is age-eligible for this year’s draft by just a matter of days.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): It’s been more of the same for Swagerty over the balance of the 2010 season. He’s excelled as a closer for the Sun Devils, going 1-0, 2.33 with 11 saves in 28 appearances, along with nine walks and 36 strikeouts in 27 innings. Swagerty has held his 93-95 mph velocity, despite frequently starting a game behind the plate, and moving directly to the mound to close it out. Some sentiment still exists for drafting Swagerty as a catcher, and there’s little question he would bring energy to the position. In 49 at-bats through mid-May, he was hitting .327-0-5. By most accounts, though, his upside is higher as a pitcher, and he would take considerably less time to reach the majors in that role.—AS
CHAD BETTIS, rhp, Texas Tech
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):A west Texas high-school product, Bettis set the bar high for himself for the 2010 draft by rejecting an eighth-round offer from the home-state Houston Astros in favor of pitching at nearby Texas Tech. He has flashed impressive stuff throughout his college career, but consistent success has been hard to come by for Bettis as he has never established a set role on the Red Raiders staff. He was used principally as a starter as a freshman (4-5, 6.75, 68 IP/41 SO) and that summer in the Cape Cod League (3-0, 2.68, 44 IP/39 SO), and mostly as a closer during his sophomore year (6-1, 3.59, 7 SV, 72 IP/58 SO) and for Team USA (0-0, 3.00, 3 SV, 9 IP/11 SO). He was expected to be returned to a starting role for Texas Tech as a junior. Through 10 appearances, he had made six starts, yet had also saved three games. Overall, he was 3-3, 4.07 with 19 walks and 55 strikeouts in 49 innings. No matter his role, Bettis has a big arm and an aggressive approach to pitching that belies a small frame. He has two above-average pitches, including a fastball that customarily ranges from 92-95 mph and has late life as a starter, and will top out at 97-98 in short bursts. He also has a hard slider with a good, late break when he has it working, though it has the appearance of a curve when he doesn’t stay on top of it. Bettis is an above-average athlete on the mound with shortstop-like tools, and that translates to the easy delivery and effortless arm action normally found in a starter. But his aggressive mindset and basic two-pitch mix suggests his future is in relief.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15):Bettis’ highly-unusual, sometimes-starter, sometimes-reliever role this spring has arguably made him one of the most-valuable pitchers in the country, but he has also probably stretched his arm to the limit. Against Big 12 rival Baylor in mid-May, he earned a three-inning save on Saturday night, then was brought back the next afternoon in the fifth inning, and got hammered. His season totals reflect his heavy workload: 6-4, 4.71, 10 saves, 23 games, 78 innings, 92 strikeouts.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
PERCI GARNER, rhp, Ball State
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Garner was a star football player at an Ohio high school, passing for 43 touchdowns and more than 4,400 yards his senior year. But he was red-shirted his freshman year at Ball State and saw no action as a third-stringer in 2008, either, as All-American starter Nate Davis commanded almost all the playing time at quarterback. Garner saw the writing on the wall, and decided to cast his lot only with baseball. After going just 1-0, 4.95 with 16 walks and 24 strikeouts in 20 innings in 2009 for the Cardinals, he made huge strides in his development as a pitching prospect last summer in the Great Lakes League. He went 2-0, 1.50 with nine walks and 16 strikeouts in 12 innings for Stark County. All 28 appearances he made over the spring and summer seasons were in relief. Though he produced only modest results in his first real crack at pitching in the better part of two years, there was nothing ordinary about Garner’s arm or his stuff in 2009. He showed the best velocity in the Great Lakes League with a fastball that reached 96 mph with little effort and had late movement in the zone. He also showed feel for a slider that often approached the mid-80s. Scouts said then that he could be lights-out down the road if he ever developed command of his two pitches, and he has made encouraging strides this spring as a part-time starter at Ball State, going 5-0, 3.51 with 49 strikeouts in 41 innings. His mechanics remain understandably raw as he has simply not played a lot of baseball. He continues to throw from a number of different release points. Garner has a strong, husky body and a clean, athletic history to go with his live arm, and could develop into a legit starter down the road if he can develop a third pitch. He has flirted with a split-finger that shows some depth. Of all the players in the Great Lakes League last summer, he may have had the highest ceiling but the farthest to go to reach it.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): In his first extended crack at pitching, Garner frequently reached 96 mph this spring while going 5-2, 4.43 with 34 walks and 76 strikeouts in 67 innings. His 16 appearances included 10 starts. Many cross-checkers who had never seen Garner pitch before were impressed with his arm strength and a solid slider as a second pitch, but saw a somewhat thick, non-projectable frame, and generally cast him as a two-pitch reliever in the pro ranks.—AS
RALSTON CASH, rhp, Lakeview Academy, Cornelia, Ga.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Cash, a strong-bodied 6-foot-4, 200-pound righthander from central Georgia, has enjoyed considerable success in high school and is a veteran of the East Cobb youth program. Though he went 9-0, 0.97 with 83 strikeouts in 58 innings as a junior at Lakeview Academy, Cash has actually enjoyed more success at the plate in high school. He hit .511-11-44 as a sophomore, and .466-9-48 as a junior. However, scouts like him more on the mound, and over the past few years he’s been one of the most consistent pitchers in the country. He can be counted on bringing virtually the same stuff to the mound every outing. Cash has a bit of a drop-and-drive delivery that he repeats very well, and a somewhat lower-than-standard three-quarters release point that helps him get good sinking and running life on his two-seam fastball. Cash pitches very steadily in the 88-91 mph range and can hold his velocity deep into games, especially when he’s getting ahead in counts and getting a lot of early-count ground balls. His curveball flashes plus potential in the upper-70s, although he tends to get on the side of it occasionally, causing it to become a flatter slurve. Cash’s changeup is also a polished pitch that he isn’t afraid to use against advanced hitters. Since Cash is a mature athlete with plenty of high-level innings under his belt, it’s hard to project him to improve his velocity much in the future, but he should have three solid major-league average pitches in the future with the ability to use them all in sequence.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Cash continued to have more success at the plate (.469-11-39) than on the mound (4-4, 2.60, 47 IP/15/79 SO) as a senior. Like his first cousin Ethan Martin, a first-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers two years ago who had significant two-way ability and went out as a pitcher, Cash also has greater appeal on the mound.—AS
DEREK DIETRICH, ss, Georgia Tech
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): As an unsigned third-round pick of the Houston Astros in 2007, a member of USA Baseball’s college-national team in 2008 and grandson of a former big leaguer (Steve Demeter), Dietrich was one of the most-hyped prospects to play in the Cape Cod League in 2009. He struggled to live up to expectations for Wareham as he hit just .211-3-10, and struck out a team-high 46 times. He also raised questions whether he had the goods to be an everyday shortstop at the next level. But Dietrich, who hit .311-10-54 as a Georgia Tech sophomore, did show flashes of all five tools, and played the game with passion and intelligence. And though he didn’t pitch at all last summer for Wareham, he has taken the mound in the past and shown easy arm strength with a fastball up to 94-95 mph, plus the feel and pitchability to warrant consideration as a genuine pitching prospect. But for now, Dietrich is a shortstop with offensive potential from the left side. When he got on a roll in the Cape, he looked like one of the best offensive players in the league. He demonstrated quick hands and the ability to get the bat head through the zone easily, and drove the ball hard to all fields with plus power. In consecutive at-bats in one game, he homered to the opposite field and pulled a ball convincingly down the line. Through the first half of the 2010 season at Georgia Tech, Dietrich was hitting a solid .371-9-35 and leading a 26-3 team with seven stolen bases. Dietrich’s overall prowess at the plate, however, has made him an enigma to scouts since his high-school days in Ohio. He’s a very streaky hitter, and his weaknesses at the plate were often exposed on the Cape. It wasn’t uncommon for him to lose his identity at the plate, as has happened repeatedly in the past, and struggle mightily for extended stretches. He remains prone to guessing at pitches, and often struggled to keep a balanced approach on good breaking balls, though his pitch selection seemed to improve later in the summer. He’ll have to make continued adjustments going forward, and all reports have been positive so far in 2010. Dietrich’s play in the field also draws mixed reviews. He has the hands and arm strength to play shortstop comfortably, but his range is limited and he may well end up at third base, or even the outfield, at the pro level. He committed just five errors in 35 games last summer, a noteworthy accomplishment as Wareham did not have a natural first baseman and balls often played tricks on him coming out of the long infield grass on his home field. Most of his errors were on slow rollers. Dietrich isn’t the lock to go in the first round as originally projected, but it remains apparent that hehas grown up in a baseball environment and his ability to dazzle in any one game could win over an influential scout with organizational clout.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Dietrich has continued to have a solid spring for Georgia Tech, with numbers at .372-15-54 through mid-May. He has shown a strong power surge in ACC play, and was the leader in home runs in conference play. However, Dietrich continues to struggle with his range in the field, and his 13 errors in 51 games show that. He has been given late-inning cameos at third base to showcase his abilities there, and the consensus in the scouting community is that he will be a strong fit there, not needing a move to the outfield. Dietrich’s strong wrists and forearms continue to intrigue scouts, and though he’s not considered a potential shortstop anymore, teams still see value in him as a strong overall prospect.—ANDY SEILER
JUSTIN NICOLINO, lhp, University HS, Orlando, Fla.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Nicolino is one of the fastest risers on central Florida prospect lists this spring, and his ascent coincides with him finally starting to add some strength, and velocity, to his slender 6-foot-3, 160-pound frame. A year and a half ago, Nicolino was a skinny 6-1, 145-pound southpaw who threw in the low-80s. But he still managed to cut up hitters with his command and quality off-speed stuff. Now that Nicolino is pitching in the upper-80s, and touching the low-90s occasionally, scouts are starting to see his projection fulfilled and hoping that he can keep improving his velocity. Nicolino’s delivery and arm action need little improvement. He has an easy, well-paced delivery with a smooth left arm coming through. Both his upper-70s changeup and low- to mid-70s curve are quality off-speed pitches that Nicolino can consistently spot in the strike zone, even when behind in the count, a leftover quality from the days when he was a true crafty lefthander. Through his first 37 innings this spring, he was 3-2, 1.14 with eight walks and 61 strikeouts.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Scouts had a perfect opportunity to line up Nicolino with two other very similar lefthanders at the Florida all-star games in Sebring in late May. Nicolino will no doubt be compared to Jimmy Hodgskin and Daniel Gibson, and it’s easy to imagine that whichever young southpaw throws the best will come off the draft board first in June. All three project as third- to fourth-round picks. Nicolino’s scholarship to Virginia could be a complicating factor, however.—DR
DANIEL TILLMAN, rhp, Florida Southern
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Tillman has dominated this spring at Florida Southern, going 1-0, 3.54 with 10 saves, along with 48 strikeouts in 28 innings. As a closer for a Division II school, he may not receive the exposure other high-profile college pitchers get, but should at least benefit from having three teammates (catcher Zach Maggard, shortstop Wade Kirkland and lefthander Max Russell) who are receiving similar early-round attention. It’s in summer-league competition that Tillman has received his greatest exposure. He was a hands-down choice as the Clark Griffith League’s top prospect in 2008 after posting a 3-1, 3.28 record with 61 strikeouts and only 10 walks in 49 regular-season innings. He didn’t skip a beat moving up a couple of notches in competition to the Cape Cod League last summer—even as he moved from a starting to closing role. He posted a perfect 0.00 ERA in 18 appearances for Cotuit, walking seven and striking out 31 in 22 innings while saving 10 games. He never had so much as a shaky outing. Tillman made the transition to the pen as a sophomore at Florida Southern, and went 4-2, 3.15 with 12 saves and 62 strikeouts in 64 innings. He quickly assumed the closer’s job for Cotuit, succeeding righthander Drew Storen, the 10th overall pick in last year’s draft who could be one of the first players from the 2009 class to reach the big leagues. Like Storen, Tillman has the mindset to close, and relishes the role. Though he didn’t throw quite as hard as Storen did in 2008, Tillman had a tendency to miss more bats, even as he threw almost exclusively fastballs. The pitch sits in the 91-94 mph range and occasionally touches 96. His ability to spot his fastball with precision and get ahead in counts makes it extremely effective, though the pitch isn’t overly lively. Tillman has a mid-70s curve with sweeping, slurve-type action that is effective against righthanded hitters, and an effective low-80s changeup, but rarely uses either as a closer. His delivery is sound and repeatable, adding to his command potential.—ALLAN SIMPSON
UPDATE (5/15): Tillman finished out the 2010 season strong, assembling a line of 2-2, 3.18 with 56 strikeouts and 21 walks in 40 innings. He recorded 13 saves in the process, though he was surprisingly hittable at times, as he struggled to command his fastball. That lack of command is what has dropped him from first-day consideration for most teams, as he doesn’t have the top-shelf fastball of an elite closer. However, his stuff is still solid, and he pitched well enough in late-season action to warrant an early selection.—ANDY SEILER
ANGELO GUMBS, of, Torrance (Calif.) HS
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1):Gumbs has been caught up in the wave of southern California high-school prospects that have significantly enhanced their draft value this spring. As an extra-strong, 6-foot, 200-pound righthanded hitter, Gumbs has excellent raw bat speed, and the ball comes off his bat hard and fast. He shows solid gap-to-gap, line-drive power right now, and will occasionally catch a ball and drill it a long way. He should continue to develop more power in the future as he adds lift to his swing. Through his first 15 games this spring for Torrance High, he was hitting .537 with three homers, but had also drawn 11 walks as he was being pitched around extensively. As a “smaller” righthanded hitter with only average big-league speed (6.7-6.8 in the 60), Gumbs wouldn’t normally profile as a potential top-3 round draft pick, but his combination of overall tools, baseball instincts and performance could easily land him in that area. Gumbs has played shortstop for his high-school team, but will be an outfielder in pro ball or at his college of choice, Southern California. He has been an outstanding defensive outfielder in summer ball, and his jumps in the outfield and athleticism going to balls give him the range to play center field at the next level, while his superior arm strength would play well in right field. Gumbs’ is a hustling, all-out type of player and his aggressive approach on the bases, along with his base-running instincts, match his defensive instincts.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Gumbs missed a number of games during the second half of the 2010 season, due to illness or minor injury, and was in less than top form in many others. Still, scouts got plenty of long looks at him over the winter and during the early part of the season. Gumbs is the type of player who scouts seem to be rooting for because of his makeup and the way he plays the game, not an unimportant factor on draft day.—DR