Draft : : State Preview
Thursday, May 12, 2011

State Preview: Florida

Allan Simpson        
Photo: Ryan Young
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico.  These overviews will list the state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as well as providing mini-scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players.
Florida State-by-State List
Florida Overview:
Strong Prep Crop, Elite JC Prospects Headline Solid Florida 2011 Draft Class
Florida has been ranked a consistent No. 2 behind California as a producer of baseball talent since the draft was incorporated in 1965. It has enjoyed another bountiful spring harvest in scouts’ minds, but the theme is becoming increasingly familiar insofar as where the premium talent is coming from.
The state’s high-school ranks are both talented on the top end and deep in the middle; they could produce three or four first-round picks in this year’s draft. The junior colleges continue to produce more high-end talent than any state in the country, Texas and California included, and boast the nation’s two best talents.
Once again, though, Florida’s four-year colleges will be only marginally represented, at least by comparison. It will be a stretch for a first-round pick to come from a Florida college this year.
Florida’s high-school talent is as deep and varied as ever this year, and benefits immensely from the presence of three players who moved to the state in their early high-school years from traditional Latin American hotbeds. Shortstops Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez moved to Florida from Puerto Rico, while righthander Jose Fernandez defected from Cuba. They rank 1-2-3 on the list of prospects for this year’s draft from Florida, and all are projected to safely be taken in the first round, with Lindor a candidate for the first 10 picks.
The strength of the 2011 Florida prep class is position prospects, especially power bats. While Lindor (Montverde Academy) and Baez (Arlington Country Day), and especially Lindor, are viewed as multi-tooled talents, both are two of the most prominent offensive players. Not only do they share a common Puerto Rican heritage, but they matched up against each other in an early-season game that became a scouting bonanza. In what might have been the most-heavily scouted game of the spring nationally, an estimated 150 scouts ringed the field for the Feb. 18 contest.
There are no shortage of premium hitters elsewhere at the prep level, notably 6-foot-1, 240-pound Bishop Verot High first baseman Dan Vogelbach and Orangewood Academy third baseman Dante Bichette, who were teammates during the summer and fall on the FTB Mizuno travel team. They have firmly established themselves as two of the top power hitters in the country this spring by blasting a combined 26 home runs between them through early May.
Two Florida prep outfielders that have pushed their way this spring to the brink of the first round are Palmetto High’s Granden Goetzman, one of the best power/speed packages in the state, and Port St. Joe speedster Roman Quinn.
But the deepest positions of all at the Florida prep level are on the mound and at the plate. Rodriguez, along with West Boca righthander Michael Kelly and Vogelbach’s Bishop Verot teammate Hudson Boyd, also a righthander, are all in the mix to potentially slip into the back end of the first round. There are so many quality arms this year in Florida, though, that area scouts have actually complained that there are too many to chase down and truly evaluate accurately.
Meanwhile, the accompanying list of players that have a fair shot of being drafted in the top 10 rounds includes five prep catchers. There is no clear consensus on who will go off the board first because all have significant commitments to Florida colleges. The top talents, though, appear to be either Florida recruit Mario Amaral or Central Florida recruit Tyler Marlette. Both possess significant arm strength and power potential.
Just as the high-school ranks have been propped up this spring by the infusion of talent from abroard, Florida’s rich junior-college program has benefitted significantly from a number of transfers from northern schools. In fact, the top three JC prospects transferred in from four-year colleges as rising sophomores.
Outfielder Brian Goodwin attended college at North Carolina as a freshman, before transferring in January to Miami-Dade, while Indian River State infielder Cory Spangenberg transferred after his freshman year at Virginia Military Institute. Goodwin, a potential five-tool talent, and Spangenberg, the state junior-college player of the year and one of the elite hitting prospects in the entire draft class, are ranked 1-2 nationally among junior-college prospects. Goodwin recovered from a slow start to hit .367-8-32 with 13 stolen bases, while Spangenberg stung the ball at a .477-5-32 clip while stealing 33 bases.
The third prominent player that was new to the Florida JC scene this spring is 6-foot-5 Seminole State righthander Mike Clevinger, who transferred in January from The Citadel. He played a two-way role for his new team but stood out most as a closer. With a fastball that consistently reached the mid-90s, he fanned 52 in 31 innings—the best strikeout-to-innings ratio in the state.
Several of Goodwin’s and Clevinger’s teammates at Miami-Dade and Seminole State should also factor somewhat prominently into the early to mid rounds. Neither of those teams, though, so much as qualified for the eight-team state tournament—a clear indicator of the breadth and depth of talent in the Florida junior colleges. Additionally, long-standing Florida JC power St. Petersburg could produce as many as three picks in the first 10 rounds, even though it lost several players in the fall in the wake of recruiting irregularities that led to the dismissal of veteran coach Dave Pano. St. Pete was banned from the state tournament as part of its punishment.
The 2010 draft actually provided some relief at the top for Florida’s somewhat under-appreciated, if not under-achieving four-year college ranks as two native Floridians, Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal (Reds) and Florida Gulf Coast lefthander Chris Sale (White Sox) went back-to-back with the 12th and 13th picks, respectively. Sale gained even more notoriety by becoming the first player from last year’s draft class to reach the big leagues. The White called him up in early August and he firmly established himself in Chicago’s bullpen.
Sale’s meteoric rise did disguise the fact, though, that only five Florida college players were drafted in the first four rounds in 2010, including two from Division II Florida Southern pitchers Daniel Tillman and Max Russell.
This year it appears unlikely that any Florida college player will be picked in the first round and there are only a half dozen or so players that are strong possibilities to go in the first four or five rounds. The first college pick should come from the trio of Florida State lefthander Sean Gilmartin, Florida lefthander Nick Maronde and Bethune-Cookman catcher Peter O’Brien.
Of the three, Gilmartin is the one that has made the greatest strides this spring. Before the season, Miami third baseman Harold Martinez projected to be the first college player picked, possibly in the first round, but his season-long struggles with the bat and in the field have eliminated any chance of that happening.
The University of Florida’s immensely-talented sophomore class has been a focus of national attention all spring, and could well change the state’s image in 2012. Catcher Michael Zunino, lefthander Brian Johnson and first baseman/righthander Austin Maddox are all likely to garner first-round consideration, with another three or four Gators likely to go in the top 4-6 rounds. Maronde is the school’s best bet for the draft this year. Though he has been clocked in the mid-90s from the left side, he has been used mostly in a set-up role on a deep Gators pitching staff.
Florida has had a long tradition of producing top prospects with significant big-league connections, and that is certainly the case again this year.
Bichette, whose .647 average ranks second among the state’s top high-school hitters, is the son of Dante Bichette, the former Colorado Rockies slugger. Other prospects with a big-league lineage include American Heritage High outfielder Dominic Jose (son of outfielder Felix Jose), St. Petersburg CC infielder Sean Buckley (son of Reds scouting director Chris Buckley), Deltona High shortstop Jack Lopez (son of Reds major-league bullpen catcher Juan Lopez), Seminole State CC righthander Dejai Oliver (son of catcher Joe Oliver), Monsignor Pace righthander/outfielder Dereck Rodriguez (son of catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez), Pendleton School lefthander Brandon Bonilla (son of outfielder Bobby Bonilla) and University of Tampa shortstop Taylor Wrenn (son of long-time area scout Luke Wrenn).
A popular discussion topic this spring among scouts on the sidelines at Florida games has been all the speculation on which local high-school talent the Tampa Bay Rays might be strongly considering with the abundance of early draft picks they have. In all, the Rays have 10 of the first 60 selections. Although there is no certainty that the Rays might spend their wealth of extra picks on in-state talent, there is a prevailing thought that they might be in position to get a “home-town” discount by drafting local talent.
Florida in a Nutshell:
STRENGTH: Junior-college, high-school talent.
WEAKNESS: Premium college talent/depth.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 4.
BEST JUNIOR COLLEGE TEAM: Northwest Florida State.
BEST HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Flanagan HS, Pembroke Pines.
PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Grandon Goetzman, of, Palmetto HS. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Goetzman is playing out of position this spring at shortstop, but is projected to become a Drew Stubbs-type center fielder in the future, with power and speed. The bat tool has the furthest to go.
PROSPECT ON THE DECLINE: Harold Martinez, 3b, University of Miami. Martinez was considered a potential first-round pick coming off a 21 home-run season as a sophomore, but showed nothing close to that type of power this spring with just three homers.
WILD CARD: Dan Vogelbach, 1b, Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers. Vogelbach is essentially a one-tool player and profiles as an American League-type draft pick, but the one tool, his massive raw power, is huge. Vogelbach could go anywhere from the compensation round all the way down to the fifth round.
BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Florida Connection: Austin Wood, rhp, Southern California (attended Niceville High and St. Petersburg JC).
TOP 2012 PROSPECT: Lance McCullers, rhp/ss, Tampa Jesuit HS.
TOP 2013 PROSPECT: Karsten Whitson, rhp, University of Florida.
Draft History: Chipper Jones, ss, The Bolles School, Jacksonville (1990, Braves/1st round, 1st pick); Alex Rodriguez, ss, Westminster Christian HS, Miami (1993, Mariners/1st round, 1st pick); Paul Wilson, rhp, Florida State U. (1994, Mets/1st round, 1st pick); Pat Burrell, 1b, U. of Miami (Phillies, 1998/1st round, 1st pick).
2006 Draft: Chris Marrero, 3b, Monsignor Pace HS, Hialeah (Nationals/1st round, 15th pick).
2007 Draft: Matt LaPorta, 1b, U. of Florida (Brewers/1st round, 7th pick).
2008 Draft: Eric Hosmer, 1b, American Heritage HS, Plantation (Royals/1st round, 3rd pick).
2009 Draft: Bobby Borchering, 3b, Bishop Verot HS, Ft. Myers (Diamondbacks/1st. round, 16th pick).
2010 Draft: Manny Machado, ss, Miami Brito Private HS (Orioles/1st round, 3rd pick).
Best Hitter: Javier Baez, ss/3b, Arlington Country Day HS, Jacksonville.
Best Power: Dan Vogelbach, 1b, Bishop Verot HS, North Fort Myers.
Best Speed: Roman Quinn, of/ss, Port St. Joe HS.
Best Defender: Fransicso Lindor, ss, Montverde Academy, Clermont.
Best Velocity: Jose Fernandez, rhp, Alonso HS, Tampa.
Best Breaking Stuff: Sean Gilmartin, lhp, Florida State.
GROUP ONE (Projected ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)
1. FRANCISCO LINDOR, ss, Montverde Academy, Clermont
Top SS nationally, switch-hitter with surprising pop, + defensive tools, smooth and quick, loves to play.
2. JOSE FERNANDEZ, rhp, Alonso High School, Tampa
Cuban defector, ++ present stuff, FB to 97 mph, sharp SL, good CH, mature pitchability, 10-1, 1.07/72 IP
3. JAVIER BAEZ, ss/3b, Arlington Country Day HS, Jacksonville
Puerto Rican native, + offensive potential, RH hitter with power, flashy defensive tools/skills, position TBD.
4. BRIAN GOODWIN, of, Miami-Dade JC (So.)
UNC transfer, first-round tools, LH bat, + power/speed combo, .367-8-32/13 SB, CF ability but BA instincts.
5. CORY SPANGENBERG, 3b/2b, Indian River State JC (So.)
VMI transfer, offensive machine, LH bat with ++ swing/bat speed, .477-5-32/33 SB, profiles as offensive 2B.
6. MICHAEL KELLY, rhp, West Boca HS, Boynton Beach
Projectable at 6-5/190; easy delivery, fast/loose arm, heavy FB to 95, + life down, big CU, 8-4, 1.93 in 69 IP.
7. SEAN GILMARTIN, lhp, Florida State University (Jr.)
HS draft as OF; excelled on mound (8-1, 2.36, 86 IP/15 BB/98 SO), ++ command of 92 FB, Glavine-like CH.
8. HUDSON BOYD, rhp, Bishop Verot HS, North Fort Myers
XXL build; top performer (10-0, 0.37, 57 IP/100 K), dominates with heavy 91-94 FB, power CU, command.
9. GRANDEN GOETZMAN, ss-of, Palmetto HS, Palmetto
Stock way up as SR for 6-4/195 athlete; ++ power/speed package with loose, fast swing, has future CF tools.
10. PETER O’BRIEN, c, Bethune-Cookman University (Jr.)
Best B-C draft in 28 years has 2 ++ tools (power/arm), but offensive output fell (.380, 20 HR to .290, 12 HR).
11. NICK MARONDE, lhp, University of Florida (Jr.)
6-3/200 LHP with quick arm, runs FB up to 96 with command; set-up man, needs to develop other pitches.
12. ROMAN QUINN, of/ss, Port St. Joe HS
Versatile player, excellent defensive tools/instincts, ++ runner (6.35/60), switch hits, sprays ball to all fields.
13. DAN VOGELBACH, 1b, Bishop Verot HS, North Fort Myers
XXL slugger, Prince Fielder comparison; best power in HS class, .474-16-48, lives to hit, probable AL draft.
14. DANTE BICHETTE, 3b, Orangewood Academy, Orlando
Son of ex-MLB star, same tools, ++ strong/aggressive hitter, crushes balls inner half (.637-10-37), fair at 3B.
15. MARIO AMARAL, c, Reagan HS, Hialeah
Strong, mature frame (6-1/205); skills developing, but 90 off mound, big, easy power, runs OK, hit .485-7-17.
16. ANTHONY DeSCLAFANI, rhp, University of Florida (Jr.)
Used mainly as closer by Gators (4-2, 4.08, 3 SV); uncanny ability to throws strikes with FB that peaks at 95.
17. TYLER MARLETTE, c, Hagerty HS, Oviedo
5-11/200, + strong; ++ arm (1.7-1.8 pop times), quick actions, surprising pull power, very aggressive player.
18. ANDY SUAREZ, lhp, Southwest HS, Miami
Missed 2010 summer with sore elbow; quick clean arm, FB 90-93, mid/upper 70’s slurve, polished pitcher.
19. KYLE SMITH, rhp, Santaluces HS, West Palm Beach
Roy Oswalt comp at 6-0/180, very athletic/+ competitor; 89-93 FB/++ CU, 1 ER in 45 IP, 0.15/82 K’s as SR.
20. TYLER GREENE, ss, West Boca HS, Boca Raton
Upper-level SS tools, 6.5 runner, +arm, +agility, raw bat speed/power, hitting approach/instincts are issues.
GROUP TWO (Projected HIGH-Round Draft / Rounds 4-10)
21. PRESTON TUCKER, 1b/of, University of Florida (Jr.)
Stocky-built LH hitter is middle-of-order run producer (.332-10-44); 1B only option; bat needs to carry him.
22. DOMINIC JOSE, of, American Heritage HS, Lake Worth
Son of ex-OF Junior Felix; + projectable athlete with 5-tool potential, switch-hitter (.339-4-25), ++ student.
23. MICHAEL CLEVINGER, rhp/ss, Seminole State JC (So.)
The Citadel transfer played 2-way role, but impressed scouts with mid-90s FB as closer; fanned 52 in 31 IP.
24. HAROLD MARTINEZ, 3b, University of Miami (Jr.)
First-round hopes evaporated with power outage (21 HR in 2010, 3 in 2011); + arm, but struggled in field.
25. DEREK LAW, rhp, Miami-Dade JC (So.)
Pennsylvania product had ++ season (7-4, 1.75, 77 IP/11 BB/105 SO); 4 pitches, commands 92-93 FB, + SL.
26. BRANDON SEDELL, c, American Heritage HS, Cooper City
Strong (6-1/205), mature hitter (.500-10-39) with ++ bat speed/raw power, fair catching tools, also 1B/3B.
27. RONNIE RICHARDSON, of, U. of Central Florida (So.)
Soph-eligible CF has + combination of speed, power, arm; produced just OK numbers (.320-0-22, 11 SB).
28. JON MATTHEWS, of, St. Petersburg Col. (So.)
Charleston Southern transfer has big arm, speed (6.5 in 60), big upside; overcame slow start to hit .356-6-40.
29. SEAN BUCKLEY, 3b/1b, St. Petersburg JC (So.)
Son of Reds scouting director/South Florida transfer has explosive power, runs 60 in 6.8; hit .379-10-52.
30. KEVIN QUACKENBUSH, rhp, University of South Florida (Sr.)
6-5 RHP blossomed (11 SV, 28 IP/9 H/6 BB/39 SO) under ex-MLB pitch coach Chuck Hernandez, FB at 94.
31. JACK LOPEZ, ss, Deltona HS
Son of Reds bullpen coach (Juan); very slick fielder, + hands/actions, only 5-10/175, but improving strength.
32. RYAN HARRIS, rhp/of, Jupiter HS, West Palm Beach
Injury concerns so wild-card draft; legit 2-way talent, FB up to 94 mph/power CU, intriguing power at plate.
33. NICK RICKLES, c, Stetson University (Jr.)
O’Brien (No. 10) has better raw power/arm, but 6-3/210 Rickles (.373-8-51, 6 SO) a more complete package.
34. NICK GOODY, rhp, State College of Florida JC (So.)
First crack at full-time pitcher produced 6-1, 1.17 record, led state with 107 SO; FB at 88-91/T-93, 80-81 SL.
35. NATHAN MELENDRES, of, University of Miami (Jr.)
Tops UM in batting (.343), best hitter for average on team, runs bases (18 SB); most obvious tool is 80 arm.
36. SEAN TRENT, c/3b, Bishop Moore HS, Maitland
Very strong (6-0/200), aggressive line-drive swing, ++ arm strength, 6.9 runner, may project best as catcher.
37. BRETT LEE, lhp, St. Petersburg Col. (So.)
6-5/205 Alabama JC transfer had easily best St. Pete arm; commands 90-91 mph, new-found SL at 82-84.
38. DEJAI OLIVER, rhp, Seminole State JC (So.)
Son of ex-MLB catcher Joe Oliver; went 7-2, 3.23, 78 IP/91 SO with 88-92 mph FB, + SL, feel for CH.
39. MANNY RODRIGUEZ, rhp, Barry University (Jr.)
Ex-3B made big strides in second year on mound (5-3, 2.38, 95 IP/111 SO); FB in mid-90s, also has CU/CH.
40. MASON McVAY, lhp, Florida International University (So.)
6-5 LHP may be tough sign as SO eligible, TJ surgery in 2010, but 31 SO/24 IP with FB up to 94-95, + CU.
41. JOE KREHBIEL, rhp/ss, Seminole (FL) HS
First year as full-time pitcher, caught fire in fall; 93 FB from low arm slot, gets + run/sink, has sweeping CU.
42. ARAMIS GARCIA, c, Pines Charter HS, Pembroke Pines
Big catcher (6-4/200) has made + strides in developing + power potential, correcting funky throwing action.
43. ZEKE DEVOSS, of, University of Miami (So.)
Best athlete on Canes roster, one of fastest players in college (6.3 in 60); hit .305, led team in SB (28), BB.
44. GARRETT NUSS, rhp, Mount Dora HS, Sorrento
Three-pitch workhorse (FB at 92 mph, CU with downer shape, nice CH), projects command from low angle.
45. CHRIS LEE, lhp, Santa Fe JC (So.)                                                                                    
Slender 6-3/170 lefty with very live arm, FB to 94 mph, flashes CU/CH potential, trouble repeating delivery.
46. PAUL DAVIS, rhp, Florida Atlantic (Jr.)
JC transfer developed command of 90-94 FB, feel for CU to go with SL/CH; went 8-1, 2.55, 78 IP/58 SO.
47. COREY STUMP, lhp, Lakeland Christian Academy
Chris Sale comp at 6-5/195; upper-80s FB/tops at 91-92, big sweeping CU, good off-speed feel; solid athlete.
48. DANNY WINKLER, rhp, University of Central Florida (Jr.)
Illinois JC transfer produced modest 3-4, 5.22 record, but impressed scouts with sinking FB to 93, solid SL.
49. ERIC SKOGLUND, lhp, Sarasota (FL) HS
Loose 6-6 lefty, FB touches 90, + downhill angle, CU has good spin at times; broke thumb and not seen late.
50. MIKE McGEE, of-rhp, Florida State (Sr.)
Marginal tools for pro ball, but solid 2-way talent; tops FSU in HR (9), SV (5), + oppo power, FB up to 92.
51. ALEX SANTANA, 3b/rhp, Mariner HS, Cape Coral
6-4/195 build, 2-way potential; loose actions, projects power, hit .402-4-29, + arm strength, 90 mph FB.
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