Draft : : State Preview
Thursday, June 02, 2011

State Preview: Pennsylvania

Allan Simpson        
Photo: Jim Fisher

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.

Pennsylvania State-by-State List

Pennsylvania Overview:
Pennsylvania Still Struggling to Gets Its Due as Premium Talent Producer

If Pennsylvania colleges should ever reach the point where they could compete on an equal playing field with other college programs up and down the east coast, and retain all, or most of the talent that is coming out of the state’s high schools each year, then Pennsylvania might get its due as one of the nation’s most-productive talent sources.

There is no shortage of players being produced in the state prep ranks each year—223 in the seven-year period from 2004-10 that went on to be drafted, placing Pennsylvania 11th overall nationally—but most of that talent either signs professionally or heads off to out-of-state college teams, where the weather is a little warmer and the competition a little stiffer.

Not even one of Pennsylvania’s 10 Division I colleges reached this year’s NCAA tournament. A year ago, only a 25-34 Bucknell team, which managed to rise up at the right time and win the Patriot League tournament, advanced.

Meanwhile, almost every top high-school prospect in Pennsylvania this year has committed to college programs in North Carolina, South Carolina or Virginia.

Manheim Township High catcher Cameron Gallagher and Cedar Crest High outfielder Derek Fisher, who have jockeyed back and forth all spring on who will be Pennsylvania’s first draft pick, have commitments to East Carolina and Virginia, respectively. Only Peters Township High outfielder Justin Bianco hooked on with an in-state school (Pittsburgh), but that could become academic as Bianco is regarded as the most signable of all the state’s better high-school prospects.

A year ago, Pennsylvania had a clearly-defined top nine prep prospects. Five signed professionally, and only lefthander Chris Kirsch stayed close to home, attending Lackawanna Junior College.

The state’s contribution to the 2011 draft should be significant, by its own recent standards, but could be substantial if all players with Pennsylvania roots were credited as being from the state.

At least five players attending out-of-state colleges have Pennsylvania ties, the most noteworthy being Indian River State (Fla.) infielder Cory Spangenberg, who is a projected first-rounder. Spangenberg earned minimal interest from scouts and recruiters as a Pennsylvania high-school senior before blossoming as a freshman at Virginia Military Institute. He has since blown up into an elite prospect after transferring to a Florida junior college.

This year’s crop of Pennsylvania high-school players is significant, starting with Gallagher and Fisher. Entering the 2011 season, Fisher looked like he might be a serious candidate for the first round, based on his prolific showing with the bat in the summer and fall. Some scouts who saw him go off at the East Coast Showcase last August felt like he might hit .290-.300 in the big leagues one day, with 30-35 home runs.

Fisher’s game, however, went backwards initially this season. At the same time, Gallagher played extremely well, and soon moved ahead of Fisher on the priority list of top Pennsylvania prospects for several teams. For most of the spring, the two jockeyed back and forth as scouts would often make a point of seeing both players on their same trips to eastern Pennsylvania.

Gallagher’s value lies in his athletic 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame, his overall development as a catcher and his raw power. He quickly settled in this spring as one of the top high-school catchers in the country.

Gallagher also has excellent bloodlines as his father Glenn (Blue Jays, 1981) and brother Austin (Dodgers, 2007) are both former third-round draft picks, and it is evident in Gallagher’s very savvy approach that he has been around the game. His dad was an outfield/pitcher who played at Clemson and peaked out in the minor in Double-A; Austin is a corner infielder, currently in high Class A in the Dodgers system. If the draft plays out somewhat according to form, Gallagher himself could be a third-rounder in this draft, although he has been playing well enough that he could easily edge into the second round.

Fisher’s bat is what sets him apart. He has a classic lefthanded swing, though it tended to get a little long this spring, at times. The rest of his tools are just playable, and he profiles as a left fielder.

Though Gallagher and Fisher have been the talk of the Pennsylvania prep ranks, several other position players who, like Fisher, swing from the left side could easily work their way into the top 10 rounds—especially if signability is not an issue.

Tunkhannock Area High’s Mike Papi has always had special appeal as a lefthanded-hitting shortstop with arm strength and easy raw power, but managed to generate a lot of interest this spring as a pitcher, especially after his fastball spiked to 93 mph and he complemented it with an 81-mph slider. Adding to the dilemma scouts must consider in evaluating Papi’s futute role is his possible high price tag to buy him away from a college career at Virginia, where he would be expected to utilize the full depths of his two-way skills.

With Papi’s signability a major issue, that could open the door for Bianco and Northern High outfielder Joe Tuschak to move up the high-school pecking order. Bianco and Tuschak both impressed scouts with their combination of raw lefthanded power, above-average speed and center-field skills.

Not all the best high-school talent left the state in 2008 as the two most prominent college players in this draft are home-state products. Both Villanova righthander Kyle McMyne and Pittsburgh righthander Ray Black, have fastballs that have been clocked in the mid-90s, though neither has enjoyed consistent success, either this season or at any point in their college careers, to vault them into the top two or three rounds.

The stockily-built McMyne (4-8, 4.75) was used as a starter this season by Villanova, even though his max-effort delivery and dominant, two-pitch repertoire (fastball, slider) are better suited in a short role. He had a number of rough outings as a starter as his stuff and command would typically falter after two or three innings. Scouts were quick to recognize, though, that he was miscast in his role.

Black went just 1-1, 6.30 in 18 relief appearances on the season for Pitt, but that was viewed as an accomplishment, of sorts, for the 6-foot-5, 225-pound power pitcher, who has a lengthy list of injuries dating back to high school, including Tommy John surgery in 2008 that resulted in him red-shirting as a college freshman. Even last year, a knee injury curtailed his workload to just 16 innings.

With his big, athletic frame, loose, quick arm and a fastball that reached 97 mph in the Big East Conference tournament, and peaked at 99 earlier in the spring, Black is more than just a curiosity to scouts. But he has never gotten into any kind of a groove in his abbreviated career at Pitt, and it’s apparent that he has a long way to go in his overall development. In 20 innings this season, Black struck out 33 but also walked 26.

Several Pennsylvania college players with draft aspirations—Pitt senior catcher Kevan Smith (.397-11-56), Pitt junior first baseman David Chester (.345-16-60), Penn State third baseman Jordan Steranka (.323-8-57), to name a few—actually had much-better 2011 seasons than McMyne and Black, but that pair clearly earned most of the attention from scouts.

Smith, a powerful physical specimen at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds, might be the biggest wild card of any college talent in Pennsylvania. A former backup quarterback for the Panthers, Smith continues to make significant headway as a baseball talent in all phases of his game. He led the Panthers in hitting this spring, and has grown into an acceptable catcher with above-average arm strength.

The one college player who may have actually elevated his stock this spring was athletic Penn State center fielder Sean Deegan. His power (12 HR) and speed package (6.6 in the 60) won over scouts, though his total of 60 strikeouts on the season was also duly noted.

Kirsch, a 13th-round pick out of the Pennsylvania prep ranks in 2010 who chose to attend a local junior college, remains on the radar, but may not have helped himself for this year’s draft as his fastball dropped to the mid-80s early in the season, compared to 92 in the fall, and then was sidelined with tendinitis. Healthy again, Kirsch’s velocity moved back to the high-80s late in the season, but he may not have done enough overall to improve his draft standing.

Pennsylvania in a Nutshell:

Depth of high-school talent.
WEAKNESS: College pitching.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 4.

BEST HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Peters Township HS, McMurray.

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Cameron Gallagher, c, Manheim Township, Lancaster.
Gallagher’s father and brother were both former third-round draft picks, and Cameron initially projected to go in the same round. However, his game has developed this spring in almost every area, and he could now be picked in the second round, or perhaps even in the sandwich round.

PROSPECT ON THE DECLINE: Kyle McMyne, rhp, Villanova University.
With his mid-90s fastball and power slider, McMyne was being talk about as a possible first-rounder at various times last summer and fall. But he hasn’t consistently showcased his best stuff, or commanded his pitches this spring in a starting role.

WILD CARD: Ray Black, rhp, University of Pittsburgh.
Between a reconstructed right elbow (April, 2008), fractured hand (September, 2009) and torn meniscus in his knee (December, 2009), Black has sustained his share of injuries over the last three years. That has significantly limited his time on the mound in that period, and undoubtedly will be a factor in where he is drafted. Teams will also look at the flip side of his equation and see a projectable 6-foot-5 arm with a fastball in the high-90s. Black fits the definition of high-risk/high-reward.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Pennsylvania Connection:
Cory Spangenberg, 3b/2b, Indian River State, Fla., JC (attended high school in Clarks Summit).
TOP 2012 PROSPECT: Karl Keglovitz, rhp, Nazareth Area HS, Nazareth.
TOP 2013 PROSPECT: Parker Bean, of, South Western HS, Hanover.

Draft History: Al Chambers, 1b, John Harris HS, Harrisburg (1979, Mariners/1st round, 1st pick); Shawn Abner, of, Mechanicsburg HS (1984, Mets/1st round, 1st pick).
2006 Draft: Kevin Mulvey, rhp, Villanova U. (Mets/2nd round).
2007 Draft: Devin Mesoraco, c, Punxsutawney HS (Reds/1st round, 15th pick).
2008 Draft: Drew O’Neil, rhp, Penn State U. (White Sox/4th round).
2009 Draft: Darin Gorski, lhp, Kutztown U. (Mets/7th round).
2010 Draft: Jesse Biddle, lhp, Germantown Friends Academy (Phillies/1st round, 27th pick).

Best Hitter: Derek Fisher, Cedar Crest HS, Rexmont.
Best Power: Derek Fisher, Cedar Crest HS, Rexmont.
Best Speed: Justin Bianco, of, Peters Township HS, Venetia.
Best Defender: Cameron Gallagher, c, Manheim Township HS, Lancaster
Best Velocity: Kyle McMyne, rhp, Villanova University.
Best Breaking Stuff: Kyle McMyne, rhp, Villanova University.


(Projected ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)

1. CAMERON GALLAGHER, c, Mannheim Township HS, Lancaster
Surprisingly quick/agile behind plate at 6-3/210; + arm, strong swing/HR power; brother in Dodgers system.
2. DEREK FISHER, of, Cedar Crest HS, Rexmont
Easy LH power in 6-3/215 frame (.484-11-28), RF tools, 6.65 runner, Jay Bruce comparison; UVa recruit.

(Projected HIGH-Round Draft / Rounds 4-10)

3. MIKE PAPI, ss/rhp, Tunkhannock Area HS
Well-rounded tools (6.85 runner, 94-mph arm, LH bat with gap power); also interest as RHP; UVa signee.
4. JUSTIN BIANCO, of, Peters Township HS, Venetia
Tightly-wound athlete (6-0/195); + LH bat speed/pull approach, 6.65 speed, CF defensive tools, ++ gamer.
5. KYLE McMYNE, rhp, Villanova University (Jr.)
Stocky frame (6-0/215), max-effort; starter in 2011 (4-8, 4.75)/profiles as closer; ++ stuff (95 FB, hard SL).
6. RAY BLACK, rhp, University of Pittsburgh (So.)
Long injury file has hampered development (16 IP in 2009-10); big frame (6-5/225), loose arm, high-90 FB.
7. JOE TUSCHAK, of, Northern HS, Dillsburg
+ line-drive LH swing (.537-8-27), + bat speed/gap-power potential; CF profile, + speed/arm, competes hard.
8. CORY DEEGAN, of, Penn State University (Jr.)
Came on as fast as any PA college player; + athlete, + LH bat (.333-12-40), + speed (6.65 in 60), also 60 SO.
9. KEVAN SMITH, c/dh, Pittsburgh (Jr.)
Ex-Pitt QB, ++ athlete; starting to figure it out at plate (.397-11-56), behind plate (1.85 pop, OK receiver).

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