Draft : : State Preview
Friday, June 01, 2012

State Preview: New York

Allan Simpson        
Photo: Perfect Game

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 scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.

Contributing: David Rawnsley

New York State-by-State List
2011 New York Overview

New York Overview:
With Talent Aplenty, A Draft for the Ages in New York

New York’s impact on the baseball draft has dipped precipitously over time, perhaps more than any other state. In the formative years, only California produced more draftable talent. Over the last two years, New York hasn’t even cracked the top 10 nationally in terms of drafted players overall that attended in-state high schools.

But New York may take a page from its past this year as the 2012 draft crop in the state is rich and plentiful, with an abundance of players from all demographics—college, junior college, high school—expected to impact the proceedings from start to finish. On the college side alone, there could be as many as 10 players snapped up in the first 10 rounds. The high-school ranks should also be adequately represented in that range, and there is even a rare junior-college player targeted for selection in a premium round. And it should not be overlooked that Duke University righthander Marcus Stroman, a near-lock to go in the first round, is a product of a New York high school.

If the state’s pending impact on the draft isn’t cause enough for celebration in New York, then the fact that the stunning total of five in-state colleges are represented in the NCAA Division I regionals, should be. To put that accomplishment into perspective, the other eight states that compromise the Northeast corner of the country combined to produce just one entrant—Connecticut’s Sacred Heart, which entered the 64-team tournament through the back door with a 25-30 record, the worst in the entire tournament.

All the New York teams qualified for regional play as conference champions, and the success of those teams on the field is not a coincidence when measured against the impact that the New York college ranks will play in this year’s draft. St. John’s (37-21), champions of the Big East Conference, is expected to produce four picks in the top 10 rounds; that accomplishment could be matched by Stony Brook (46-11), champions of the America East Conference.

Army (41-13) won the Patriot League title in convincing fashion and might otherwise impact the draft with the presence of players like 6-foot-5, 230-pound senior closer Kevin McKague (mid-90s fastball) and junior righthander Chris Rowley, who spun an NCAA-Division I-best five shutouts on his way to producing an 11-0, 1.97 record, but players from Army rarely make inroads on the draft because of the requirement to serve in active duty once they graduate from the U.S. Military Academy. Had he not missed almost all of the 2011 season with a back injury, McKague might have been a third-fourth round consideration in last year’s draft, even with his active-duty commitment. The Atlanta Braves took McKague as a 50th-round flier a year ago.

Even Buffalo, which hasn’t produced a winning record in 11 years in the Mid-American Conference and has had only three players drafted in the last 25 years, none higher than the 29th round, will impact the draft in a powerful way this year as catcher Tom Murphy is a co-favorite to be the first player drafted from New York, possibly as early as the sandwich round.

The draftable talent in the high-school ranks is much less-defined because of the questionable signability status of many of the top prospects, particularly top talent Alex Robinson, but the unusually high total (by New York’s recent standards, at least) of five or six players have drawn the scrutiny of cross-checkers this spring.

New York in a nutshell:

College talent.
WEAKNESS: Signable high-school prospects.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 5.

BEST COLLEGE TEAM: St. John’s/Stony Brook.
BEST HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Grand Street Campus HS, Brooklyn.

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Grant Heyman, of, Sutherland HS, Pittsford. Heyman was known primarily as a quarterback prospect of some renown until mid-April, when the Major League Scouting Bureau slapped an overall grade of 50 (solid major-league average on the bureau’s 20-80 scale) on his baseball ability, and he was subsequently earmarked by Major League Baseball as one of 200 players nationally that would be subject to the drug and medical tests required of the top prospects in the draft. Suddenly, teams rushed in to get a better handle on Heyman’s talent, and while most thought there was a significant gap between his athleticism and his developed baseball skills, enough teams expressed enough interest for him to warrant being a surprise draft, possibly as early as the third to fifth rounds.

WILD CARD: Fernelys Sanchez, of, George Washington HS, Bronx. As one of the fastest players and best outfield defenders in the entire draft class, Sanchez ranked as the top high-school prospect in New York at the outset of the 2012 season. But he broke his fibula sliding into a base in a late March game, and hasn’t played since. Scouts needed to get a much better handle this spring on Sanchez’ hitting ability, but their inability to do so has thrown his prospects for the draft up in the air.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, New York Connection: Marcus Stroman, rhp, Duke University (Attended high school in Medford).
Top 2013 Prospect: Matt Vogel, rhp, Patchogue HS, Medford.
Top 2014 Prospect: Brent Jones, rhp, Cornell University.


Draft History:
Shawon Dunston, ss, Thomas Jefferson HS, Brooklyn (1982, Cubs/1
st round, 1st pick).
2006 Draft: Glenn Gibson, lhp, Center Moriches HS (Nationals/4th round).
2007 Draft: Matt Rizzoti, 1b, Manhattan College (Phillies/6th round).
2008 Draft: Bobby Lanigan, rhp, Adelphi University (Twins/3rd round).
2009 Draft: Steve Matz, lhp, Melville HS, East Setauket (Mets/2nd round).
2010 Draft: Cito Culver, ss, West Irondequoit HS, Rochester (Yankees/1st round, 32nd pick).
2011 Draft: Joe Panik, ss, St. John’s University (Giants/1st round, 26th pick).


College Players Drafted/Signed:
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 2/1.
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 5/3.


Best Athlete:
Grant Heyman, of, Sutherland HS, Pittsford.
Best Hitter: Travis Jankowski, of, Stony Brook University.
Best Power: Tom Murphy, c, University at Buffalo; William Carmona, 3b, Stony Brook University.
Best Speed: Fernelys Sanchez, of, George Washington University.
Best Defender: Patrick Cantwell, c, Stony Brook University.
Best Velocity: Matt Carasiti, rhp, St. John’s University.
Best Breaking Stuff: Mike Augliera, rhp, Binghamton University.
Best Pitchability: Mike Augliera, rhp, Binghamton University.


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

1. TRAVIS JANKOWSKI, of, Stony Brook University (Jr.)
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Jankowski is one of the better athletes in the 2012 college class, with three distinct tools that stand out: his lefthanded bat, 6.5-second speed and defensive ability in center field. He has made huge strides as a prospect since he went undrafted and was lightly-recruited out of a Pennsylvania high school in 2009. Jankowski played a key role for Stony Brook as a sophomore, leading the Seawolves to a school-record 42 wins while enjoying a breakout season of his own. He hit .355-2-38 (compared to .262-0-9 as a freshman), set a new school standard with 30 stolen bases and played a flawless center field. But Jankowski was still a relative unknown nationally when he rejoined the Cape Cod League’s Bourne Braves last summer. He played a bit role in 2010 for Bourne as an end-of-season pick-up, and showed little indication then that he would emerge as a premium talent one year later. But Jankowski got bigger and stronger, and re-tooled his swing as a sophomore at Stony Brook, and the payoff was a surprising MVP season on the Cape. He topped the circuit in runs (31), hits (57) and triples (7), while hitting .329-0-22 with 15 stolen bases. Jankowski’s stock for the 2012 draft skyrocketed off his performance on the Cape, and though he struggled initially this season at the plate, he closed with a rush to finish at .411-4-40, while breaking his own school record with 34 stolen bases. His game and physical profile have been compared by scouts on many counts to that of a bigger, stronger version of Jacoby Ellsbury at a comparable stage of development. Jankowski can run and hit on a par with Ellsbury, and has the same emerging power potential, even as he failed to go deep even once last summer on the Cape and has homered just six times in three years at Stony Brook. His swing is geared more to controlling the strike zone, stroking line drives to all fields and reaching base in his role as a leadoff hitter, but his lefthanded swing has some lift and his raw power potential should materialize as he grows into his live, athletic frame and turns on balls more routinely. Jankowski’s 6.5 speed is his best present tool, and an asset in all phases of his game. He’s an advanced base runner and quality defender in center field, where he has excellent range with his superior reads and jumps. His arm strength is considered average, and may end up becoming his weakest tool once his power evolves. Stony Brook has produced only 12 draft picks through the years—including ex-major league all-star closer Joe Nathan (Giants/1995, sixth round), but none higher than third-rounder Chris Flinn (Rays/2001)—and Jankowski, along with several of his teammates, should easily change those dynamics this season.

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