Draft : : State Preview
Monday, June 06, 2011

State Preview: Massachusetts

Allan Simpson        

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.

Massachusetts State-by-State List

Massachusetts Overview:
Historic Level of Prep Pitching Prospects Puts Positive Spin on Draft Crop

It’s possible that no state in the country has done a greater role reversal in the draft than Massachusetts.

Over the last three years, Boston College has dominated the affair, producing the top two picks each year, including a pair of first-rounders in 2009. A year ago, the Eagles produced three players that went in the first 10 rounds, and a school-record-tying six overall.

This time around, the Massachusetts high-school ranks have moved to the forefront on the strength of possibly the greatest collection of elite-level arms that the state has ever produced. Strictly on the basis of talent with no regard to signability, the state has as many as four prep arms are deserving of being taken in the top 10 rounds, led by Lawrence Academy righthander Tyler Beede, a borderline first-rounder.

As always with Massachusetts high-school players, signability will play a prominent role in where its players are actually drafted, and every one of the four is heavily-committed to a Division I college. Beede has an offer from Vanderbilt.

Boston College, meanwhile, will be a non-factor in the early rounds this year. And that is pretty much in keeping with the club’s 17-33 record overall and 7-22 mark in conference play, the collective worst records since the Eagles joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2006.

The school initially projected to have possibly the best college prospect in the state in junior righthander Mike Dennhardt, but that was before he went down for the season after just four starts with Tommy John surgery. When healthy, Dennhardt, a 17th-round pick out of high school, was capable of producing a fastball up to 92-93 mph. A team may still take a mid-round flier on him, but in all likelihood he will return to Boston College in 2012 and attempt to recoup his draft value.

Just like at the high-school level, the best college prospects this year are all on the mound. Even with the loss of Dennhardt from the early-round mix, there are still two arms, both lefthanders, with aspirations of going in the first 10 rounds, Massachusetts-Lowell’s Jack Leathersich and Holy Cross’ John Pedrotty.

Unrecruited by Division I schools out of high school, Leathersich became a pitcher for scouts to follow when he dominated his summer-league competition in the Valley League following his freshman year, while pitching in relief. He has been used mostly as a starter in his three years at the Division II level, and his modest 3-2, 4.26 record this season is indicative of how he has pitched throughout his career in that role. He clearly profiles as a reliever in pro ball, and his fastball has frequently reached 94 mph when used in short bursts, more just 88-91 as a starter.

Pedrotty went 7-2, 4.62 with 56 strikeouts in 60 innings this spring at Holy Cross, acceptable numbers considering the 6-foot-3, 205-pound lefthander is still transitioning to pitching after being primarily a first baseman/outfielder until the last 2-3 years. Pedrotty’s 87-92 mph fastball has good life, and he has surprisingly good pitchability for his level of experience. As a potential top-10 round pick, Pedrotty could become the highest Holy Cross selection in the draft since former Crusaders two-sport star Ronnie Perry was a third-round pick in both the Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association drafts in 1980.

Most of the focus in Massachusetts, meanwhile, has been on all the arms at the high-school level, notably in the private-school sector. Beede has attracted the most attention, but St. John’s Prep righthander Pat Connaughton, Lincoln-Sudbury High righthander Adam Ravenelle and Dexter School righthander John Magliozzi have also drawn close scrutiny.

Scouts have been very mindful of the signability risks that each pose, though. Like Beede, Ravenelle is a Vanderbilt recruit, Connaughton is committed to Notre Dame (to play both baseball and basketball) and Magliozzi is bound for Florida.

A year ago, only three Massachusetts high-school players were drafted altogether, and none ended up signing. The highest pick, Amherst Regional High lefthander Kevin Ziomek, was considered a potential first-rounder but wasn’t taken until the 13th round because major-league clubs believed he was a major signability risk. They were correct, as Ziomek ended up in college at Vanderbilt. So there is that year-old precedence to weigh as teams contemplate Beede’s draft status.

Should Beede be taken in the first round, he would become the first high-school player from Massachusetts to go in that round since righthander Jeff Allison in 2003.

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Beede has lived and breathed baseball his entire life as his father Walter was a 13th-round pick in the 1981 draft out of Fitchburg High, and played briefly in the Chicago Cubs organization. One of the most-polished prep arms to come from the Northeast in years, Beede established himself as a top prospect when he led Auburn High to a state title as a sophomore.

He subsequently transferred to Lawrence Academy, one of the top private schools in the state, and has continued to refine his pitching skills the last two years. His fastball was in the 88-91-mph range in most of his outings this spring, but it also sat at 93 deep into games in some of his other outings—an inconsistency that was blamed on the abnormally-cold, wet weather that plagued Massachusetts this spring. If he had shown consistent velocity throughout, though, and a little less effort in his delivery, Beede would have almost certainly punched his ticket into the first round.

As it is, he could still go in that round as he has an uncanny knack for mixing his pitches, and his curve ball has gotten progressively better to a point that it is now a dominant second pitch that he can throw for strikes almost at will. His change is a solid third pitch. As a senior, Beede dominated his competition, going 7-0, 0.32 with just eight hits and six walks allowed in 44 innings, while striking out 89.

Connaughton showed the most improvement this spring among the elite crop of Massachusetts prep arms, and would be a solid second- or third-round consideration if his college options were a little more clear.

The 6-foot-5 righthander starred on the basketball court for St. John’s Prep, averaging 22 points and 17 rebounds a game as a senior. He’ll have an opportunity to play both basketball and baseball at Notre Dame, and it may take a significant contract with dual-sport language, that would enable a team to spread his bonus out over several years, in order to buy him away from college.

Connaughton is strong and very athletic, and his improvement this spring stemmed from adjustments in his delivery that enabled him to throw his fastball consistently at 93-94 mph and develop his secondary stuff. He still needs a lot of work to refine his mechanics, but he has an easy delivery, and his big hands and long fingers will enable him to utilize varying grips on his pitches not afforded an average pitcher.

Because of his late arrival from basketball and a sprained ankle that sidelined him for two more weeks, Connaughton didn’t make his first pitching appearance of the 2011 season until April 20, but he promptly threw a 15-strikeout, no-hitter in his first outing, with a fastball that came out of the chute at 94. He was used in a variety of roles for one of the state’s top prep teams, and was 2-1, 1.36 with 55 strikeouts in his first 31 innings this spring.

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Ravenelle has a similar big upside with his lean, athletic frame, but his Vanderbilt commitment may be the determining factor in where he is drafted this year. His fastball was a steady 90-92 mph, touching 93, this spring, but he works from a three-quarters angle and his arm action isn’t quite as smooth as either Beede’s or Connaughton’s.

With Magliozzi, the issue is all about size. At 5-foot-9, he’ll always have to prove his prospect worth through his performance, and it’s a near-given that he’ll have to do that for at least a year in college at Florida. Magliozzi will be 20 in July, and would be a draft-eligible in 2012 after just his freshman year. Despite his smaller frame, Magliozzi has a history of reaching 94 mph, though his fastball was more commonly at 90-93 this spring. Magliozzi scores very high marks for his fierce, competitive makeup.

A fifth high-school pitcher may have joined the state’s impressive quartet of arms had Buckingham Browne and Nicholls High lefthander Andrew Chin not succumbed to Tommy John surgery in mid-season. His fastball had been clocked at 92.

With the wealth of pitching in the state this season, particularly in the high-school ranks, it’s possible that the first position player won’t be drafted until as many as 10-12 pitchers have been taken.

Two prep third basemen, Beede’s Lawrence Academy teammate Joe Napolitano (a New Hampshire resident who attended school in Massachusetts) and Catholic Memorial High’s John Gorman are projected middle-round drafts. Gorman could even be drafted as a pitcher since he has nearly equal value on the mound as he does as a hard-hitting corner infielder. A Boston College recruit, Gorman would be expected to play both ways in college.

Massachusetts in a Nutshell:

High-end high-school arms
WEAKNESS: Position players.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 4.

Holy Cross.
BEST HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: St. John’s Prep, Danvers.

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Pat Connaughton, rhp, St. John’s Prep, Danvers.
An intriguing two-sport athlete, the 6-foot-5 Connaughton set basketball scoring records at his high school this spring. He is ticketed to play basketball and baseball at Notre Dame, but may have more upside as a pitcher with his 94-95 mph fastball. No pitcher in a very top-heavy pitching state improved his stock as much this spring.

PROSPECT ON THE DECLINE: Mike Dennhardt, rhp, Boston College.
A potential top-5 round pick at the start of the 2011 season on the strength of a 94-mph fastball he displayed in the past, Dennhardt’s draft hopes were dashed when he suffered an elbow injury after four starts, and underwent Tommy John surgery.

WILD CARD: John Magliozzi, rhp, Dexter School, Milton.
With his 92-94 mph fastball and intense approach, Magliozzi pitches much bigger than someone that is 5-foot-9. If a team can look past his smaller frame, Magliozzi could land in the top 6-10 rounds. Chances are, though, he will slide in the draft and end up in college at Florida, where he will be age-eligible to be drafted again in 2012.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Massachusetts Connection:
Nick Ahmed, ss, University of Connecticut (attended high school in East Longmeadow).
TOP 2012 PROSPECT: Patrick Delano, rhp, Braintree HS.
TOP 2013 PROSPECT: Tom Bourdon, of, Boston College.

Draft History: Joe Coleman, rhp, Natick HS (1965, Senators/1st round, 3rd pick).
2006 Draft: Adam Ottavino, rhp, Northeastern U. (Cardinals/1st round, 30th pick).
2007 Draft: Jack McGeary, lhp, Roxbury Latin HS, Newton (Nationals/6th round).
2008 Draft: Dan Houston, rhp, Boston College (Rockies/7th round).
2009 Draft: Tony Sanchez, c, Boston College (Pirates/1st round, 4th pick).
2010 Draft: Patrick Dean, lhp, Boston College (Twins/3rd round).

Best Hitter: No candidate.
Best Power: No candidate.
Best Speed: No candidate.
Best Defender: No candidate.
Best Velocity: Tyler Beede, rhp, Lawrence Academy, Auburn.
Best Breaking Stuff: Tyler Beede, rhp, Lawrence Academy, Auburn.


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

1. TYLER BEEDE, rhp, Lawrence Academy, Auburn
Polished/mature hurler, 3-pitch arsenal, 90-93 FB/T-95, 78 CU, flashes + CH, strike thrower, good delivery.
2. PAT CONNAUGHTON, rhp, St. John’s Prep, Danvers
2-sport star, will play BKB at Notre Dame; ++ upside, 6-5/190, long/loose arm, varies arm slot, FB at 90-94.

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

3. JACK LEATHERSICH, lhp, University of Massachusetts-Lowell (Jr.)
Competitive LHP with quick arm; used as starter in college, but reliever profile; FB up to 94 in short bursts.
4. ADAM RAVENELLE, rhp, Lincoln-Sudbury HS, Sudbury
Projectable at 6-4/180; FB 88-92/T-93, big/deep CU, long armer with extended ¾ release, Vandy recruit.
5. JOHN MAGLIOZZI, rhp, Dexter School, Milton
Undersized RHP (5-10/180); pitches bigger/+ competes; dominated summer circuit, steady 90-94 FB, ++ CH.
6. JOHN PEDROTTY, lhp, College of Holy Cross (Jr.)
Ex-OF still learning to pitch; + arm strength (87-92 FB with life), can spin breaking ball; ideal 6-3/205 size.

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