Draft : : State Preview
Tuesday, May 21, 2013

MLB Draft Preview: Pennsylvania

Frankie Piliere        
Photo: Roger Crowley
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.  Please visit this page for all of the links to Perfect Game's 2013 Draft Preview content.



Pennsylvania State-by-State List

We’ve seen the state of Pennsylvania provide a run of a high round prep talent in the last three years, highlighted by Jesse Biddle’s first round selection by the Phillies in 2010. That streak of second round picks or higher for three straight years out of the high schools ranks is just about certain to end this year. But, Pennsylvania is also likely to get a jolt of talent from a slightly more unexpected area, the Division II college ranks.

It’s truly a banner year by Division II baseball standards in Pennsylvania in terms of draft talent. Alex Haines checks in as the state’s top draft prospect out of Seton Hill University, and Tim Mayza (Millersville) as well as Joe Gunkel (West Chester) also figure to go off the board in the top ten rounds in June. For one state, in this part of the country, that’s quite a strong representation in the early part of the draft.

The college crop in general is a strong one for the state. The Pittsburgh Panthers have two high round candidates in Matt Wotherspoon and Elvin Soto, and despite their less than stellar record, Villanova will be well represented by right-hander Pat Young in the top 6-8 rounds.


STRENGTH:
Division II talent
WEAKNESS: High School talent
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 3

BEST COLLEGE TEAM:
Pittsburgh
BEST JUNIOR COLLEGE TEAM: Lackawanna
BEST HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Strath Haven HS

Best Out-of-State Prospect, Pennsylvania Connection:
Keenan Kish, rhp, University of Florida (attended Germantown Academy)
Top 2014 Prospect: J.J. Matijevic, 3b, Norwin H.S
Top 2015 Prospect: John Aiello, ss, Germantown Academy

HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS

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)
2008 Draft: Drew O’Neil, rhp, Penn State University (White Sox/4th round)
2009 Draft: Darin Gorski, lhp, Kutztown University (Mets/7th round)
2010 Draft: Jesse Biddle, lhp, Germantown Friends Academy (Phillies/1st round, 27th pick)
2011 Draft: Cam Gallagher, c, Manheim Township HS, Lancaster (Royals/2nd round)
2012 Draft: Joe DeCarlo, ss, Garnet Valley HS, Glen Mills (Mariners/2nd round)

2012 DRAFT OVERVIEW

College Players Drafted/Signed:
8/7
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 1/1
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 6/1


TOP PROSPECTS, GROUPS 1 and 2

GROUP 2 (rounds 4-10)

1.  ALEX HAINES, lhp, Seton Hill University (Jr.)

Haines burst onto the scene last summer with a supremely impressive performance in the New England Collegiate League. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound left-hander led the league by a mile in ERA (0.90) and in strikeouts (54) and captured the attention of scouts like no other pitcher. He worked at 90-95 mph with his fastball, reaching 96 mph in the league’s All-Star game in July. He was aggressive with that fastball and it showed good, running life and he proved capable of cruising on this pitch for stretches. His breaking ball and changeup were not as far along, but his changeup proved to be his most effective secondary pitch. Haines underwent Tommy John surgery coming out high school, and has experienced a steady rise in velocity since that time. His loose, smooth arm action and strong, big league build should allow him to maintain that velocity as well. This spring, however, the velocity was not quite what it was last summer. He’s worked mostly at 87-91 mph, but has been as high as 92-93 as the weather began to warm. Most scouts also seem optimistic that he can get back to touching the mid-90s the way he did last summer. And, perhaps more importantly, he did show some further development with his breaking ball this spring. Expect to see Haines selected in the 4-5 round range.

2.  PAT YOUNG, rhp, Villanova University (Jr.)
A towering, 6-foot-7 right-hander, Young caught the eye of scouts in the Cape Cod League last summer with his plus fastball and highly unorthodox delivery. He worked at 91-94 mph out of the bullpen, but because of his funky delivery, his velocity seemed to play a little better than that with hitters. And, that delivery can only be described as nearly one of a kind. Young dips out of his balance point and gives the impression that he’s going to drop to a lower arm angle, but instead he comes back nearly right over the top with his arm slot. It’s something that perhaps contributes to his mildly erratic performances, particularly this spring. Given his size on the top of that, it’s just a lot of moving parts for him to repeat. Out of that relief role last summer, Young also flashed an average breaking ball at 78-82 mph with 11-to-5 action. That curveball has not been quite as consistent this spring back in his starting role at Villanova, however. The velocity is still impressive as a starter, at 90-93 mph, but he’s been more of a one-pitch pitcher this spring. But, his arm and size will be enough to get him drafted in the 5-7 round range.

3.  ELVIN SOTO, c, University of Pittsburgh (So.)
Catchers who can hit and throw are and always will be a sought after commodity, and Soto has both of those attributes. A switch hitter with power, Soto posts pop times from behind the dish consistently under 1.9 seconds. His strong, 6-foot, 200-pound frame suits the position well, and he has developed into a leader behind the plate for the Panthers. And, as valuable as those defensive skills are, his development as a hitter is what could land him in the top 5-6 rounds. Through 55 games, Soto has more walks than strikeouts, and has six home runs to go with his .325 batting average for Pittsburgh. Soto has added strength this spring and shows lift from both sides of the plate, as well as impressive bat speed. He handles the fastball well and consistently has professional caliber at-bats. Soto could have teams interested as high as the 5th round and should land between there and 8th round.

4. JOE GUNKEL, rhp, West Chester University (Jr.)
The state of Pennsylvania clearly has no shortage of tall, long right-handers in this year’s class. Gunkel entered the season as Perfect Game’s 13th ranked Division II player in the country, and has gone on to put together an impressive spring. Through 11 starts in 2013, Gunkel compiled a 2.44 ERA and struck out 76 batters in 77 1/3 innings of work. Perhaps most impressive are his nine complete games and five shutouts in that span. At 6-foot-6, 235-pounds, Gunkel clearly has a big league body type and gets the extension out front to utilize that height. He works mostly at 89-92 mph and locates exceptionally well, as his 11 walks this spring would indicate. He shows a solid feel for his breaking ball as well. Look for the big right-hander to go off the board in the 6-9 round range.

5. TIM MAYZA, lhp, Millersville University (Jr.)
Regardless of what flaws they may have, left-handers who live in the low-90s with their fastball and have the big league frames to match will always be sought after commodities. Mayza showed off a 90-93 mph fastball in the Cape Cod League last summer for the Cotuit Kettleers, but proved to be more raw in the secondary offering department. His curveball at 75-79 mph flashed potential, and good downward action but was mostly inconsistent in terms of command. But, it’s his easy, over-hand arm action and plus velocity that caught the eye of scouts. And, he followed that Cape League showcase with a huge spring for Millersville. Posting an 11-3 record, Mayza held hitters to just 73 hits in 98 2/3 innings pitched. He also posted a 1.55 ERA and struck out 91 batters, while walking only 27. His plus velocity showed up consistently, while his secondary attack still proved to need some work. Teams will be considering him in the 6-9 round area.

6. ANDREW RAVEL, rhp, Wilson HS, West Lawn
Ravel has made a major impression this spring, after entering the year as a relative unknown, at least in terms of being considered for the top ten rounds of the draft. A Kent State commit, Ravel has emerged this spring with a 88-90 mph fastball and has topped out at 91-92. Scouts point to his athletic, thin 6-foot-2, 165-pound frame and projection as his main selling points. He also has developed a reputation as a strike thrower and as a young pitcher with a fairly advanced feel considering his lack of experience. Ravel works out of a repeatable, loose, low effort delivery and has flashed a feel for a breaking ball as well. And, his ascent this spring has made him the clear top high school talent in the state in the eyes of most scouts. There are a number of teams who are likely to consider him in the 7-10 round range.

7. MATT WOTHERSPOON, rhp, University of Pittsburgh (Jr.)
Armed with a fastball that has reached 95 mph this spring, Wotherspoon has done an excellent job of helping to anchor an impressive Pittsburgh rotation this spring. Over 99 innings this spring, Wotherspoon racked up a 3.82 ERA and struck out 77 batters while walking 31. But, it’s the raw arsenal that has kept scouts interested. He works consistently at 89-93 mph and flashes a sharp downer curveball. His changeup still needs some work and development, but has become more useable for him this spring. The 6-foot-1, 175 pound righty is also a good athlete with better than average arm speed. He hasn’t fully tapped into his potential just yet, but has the potential for two at least average big league offerings. He’s going to be a candidate between the seventh and 10th rounds.

8. JIMMY YACABONIS, rhp, Saint Joseph’s University (Jr.)
Yacabonis showed the best raw velocity of any pitcher in the Perfect Game Collegiate League last summer, while pitching for the Elmira Pioneers. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-hander also showed a tendency to be erratic with his command, and that part of his game hasn’t gone away this spring. He walked 21 batters in 35 2/3 innings of work out of the bullpen for the Hawks. But, the upside to that are his 48 strikeouts, 2.02 ERA, and .183 batting average-against. Most importantly, however, is that his fastball has sat 91-94 mph this spring, and reached 95-96 mph consistently last summer. He’s going to need to make some mechanical adjustments, and his slider command will need further development, but he may have the best raw arm strength in the state. His slider flashes plus potential, giving him the potential for two above average pitches. If his command continues to improve, he profiles perfectly in the back of a professional bullpen. He should go off the board inside the top ten rounds.


PROSPECT TO WATCH

A.J. BOGUCKI, rhp, Boyertown HS, Gilbertsville
Bogucki entered the spring as the presumed top prep prospect in the state. But, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound right-hander hasn’t been quite as sharp as scouts would have hoped. He’s worked mostly at 86-89 mph with his fastball, and of course still has his projectable, athletic frame. Most scouts feel his velocity projects very well, and you may still see a team take a look at the UNC commit inside the top ten rounds.
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