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2007 Top Prospects

Jon Gilmore  SS - 2007 - Iowa City, IA   Wichita State

Gilmore hasn’t spent the winter resting on his Aflac All-American honors, he was in great shape and swung the bat as well if not better than we’d ever seen him swing it. There isn’t a more projectable position player in the country. He had easy plus bat speed and has that athletic balance and presence that you rarely see in a young prospect. Look for big things from Gilmore this spring and beyond.

Justin Grimm  RHP - 2007 - Bristol, VA   Georgia

Grimm’s situation with his unusual prior injury and his return this spring make his talents even more intriguing. If it weren’t for the injury and time off, we could be talking about Grimm as a comparison with pitchers such as Matt Harvey or Neil Ramirez. He might be at that level before the draft.

Casey Crosby  LHP - 2007 - Elburn, IL   Illinois

Crosby, like Scarpetta, was not an athlete you would have pictured as a top prospect 2 years ago. In Crosby’s case, it was a matter of growing 5 inches, with a corresponding jump in velocity. When we saw Crosby in Jupiter, he pitched at 88 and topped at 91. This time he pitched at 91 and topped at 94. The velocity comes easily for him. Crosby threw 2 different types of breaking balls and 2 different change ups, so he’s still figuring out his best off speed approach.

Cody Scarpetta  RHP - 2007 - Rockford, IL   Creighton

When Scarpetta first came to a Perfect Game event two years ago, he was a baby faced young man with a soft body and a good arm. Now he’s mature and has traded the softness for muscle through hard work. His raw stuff was very impressive, with velocity steady at 93 mph and a quality curveball/change up combination. He’ll definitely on many team’s draft lists this June.

Leslie Williams  RHP - 2007 - Toronto, ON CAN   Northeastern Junior College

Many PG staff members considered Williams at least as good an outfield prospect (he’s a 6.8 runner with a plus arm and some pop) before this look. But Williams showed improvement across the board on the mound. His mechanics were solid and repeatable, his fastball velocity steady at 90-92 mph and his breaking balls (both a CB and SL) had quality and consistency. He pitched like a pitcher instead of an athlete, as he had before. If he can take what he showed out to the mound when things warm up in Toronto later this spring, he can be a factor in the draft.

Jake Smolinski  SS - 2007 - Rockford, IL   Clemson

Smolenski is immensely strong in his hands and arms and handles the bat with confidence and authority. He hits from a quiet and balanced stance and explodes to the ball with very good leverage and balance at contact. The ball explodes off his bat with authority, especially to the middle of the field. He could either be a draft this spring or an excellent college hitter at Clemson.

Nick Rice  LHP - 2007 - Kenosha, WI   North Carolina State/Madison College

Some in Wisconsin may want to compare the 6-6 Rice to Mariners third round pick from 2006 Tony Butler, but patience should be stressed there. While Rice shares the same height and similar arm actions, he doesn’t have the physical strength or off speed pitches that Butler had at last year’s Indoor. We’ve heard reports of Rice throwing harder than the 85-88 mph he threw indoors, so keep a close eye on him, though.

Michael Kaczmarek  LHP - 2007 - Tinley Park, IL   Kentucky

In some years Kaczmarek would be talked about as a top left handed prospect, but there just seems to be so many high school southpaws this year that it’s hard to slip another in. Kaczmarek threw a prospect velocity fastball at 88-90 mph but his mid-70’s curveball was a plus pitch at any level. It was the top breaking ball of a talented showcase and one of the best left handed curveballs in the 2007 class.

Kyle Ayers  RHP - 2007 - Oswego, IL   Parkland College

Ayers could move up this list, plus a lot of scouting lists, pretty quickly. He’s very loose for his size and throws a heavy 89-90 mph sinker with little effort. Ayers has a drop and drive delivery that doesn’t appear to match his build or skills and if he pitched taller and with some leverage, watch out. He could be a big surprise this spring.

Ian Tomkins  C - 2007 - Wilmette, IL   Kentucky

Tomkins has a pro profile catcher’s build and very good strength projection. He moves very well for his size and has excellent raw arm strength. He showed the ability to make adjustments with the bat and has bat speed and sound hitting mechanics.

Lance Brown  RHP - 2007 - Mount Ayr, IA   South Alabama/Iowa Western CC

Brown’s delivery and ability to command his live pitches has matured well in the last six months. His fastball has very consistent hard running action at 84-87 mph and his 74 mph slurve type breaking ball from a mid-3/4’s release point was the sharpest we’ve seen it yet. The one thing Brown can’t do is throw a ball straight.

2008 Top Prospects

Tony Zych  2B - 2008 - Monee, IL   Louisville

Zych is a quality two-way prospect who, with just looking at his bat and athletic actions, could very well be a better prospect as an infielder, which he lists as his primary position. He’s very good on the mound, though, with a fastball that reached 91 mph and some spin to his curveball. Zych’s pitching mechanics are raw, as opposed to his swing mechanics, which are very polished. Either way, he’s an excellent 2008 follow.

Brett Huber  RHP - 2008 - Belleville, IL   Mississippi

For those who remember former Astros all-star Shane Reynolds, Huber is a clone both physically (broad shouldered, athletic build), with his mechanics (downhill plane, quick arm, tight ¾’s release) and stuff (88-90 FB, big downer CB, confidence in a good changeup….Reynolds’ evolved into a killer split finger). He should continue to improve.

Chris Wakefield  RHP - 2008 - Canton, GA   Northern Illinois

Wakefield is evidently one of those pitchers who you say isn’t especially projectable, then proceeds to gain velocity. His fastball was hopping indoors, regularly 91-92 mph and he attacks hitters aggressively with it early in the count. Wakefield’s athletic ability gives him command and consistency with all his pitches.

Brad Hand  LHP - 2008 - Chaska, MN   Arizona State

Hand came down to pitch in Cedar Rapids after playing in a hockey game the night before and he’s evidently a prolific goal scorer on the ice (20 goals as of early February). On the mound, he has high DI talent that is still developing. You could easily see Hand’s athleticism in his mechanics and his 86-88 mph FB and big, hard CB were very good present pitches. Hand was also one of the top hitters at the showcase.

Corey Kimes  LHP - 2008 - Ottawa, IL   Illinois

Kimes has an extra large frame and build but is very loose and balanced in his pitching mechanics, which will ultimately bring David Wells comparisons, if it hasn’t already. He pitched in the mid-80’s with a very nice and deep 77 mph slider that carved up RHH’s as well as left handers. Kimes has command and polish and more velocity to come.

Patrick Lala  RHP - 2008 - Marion, IA   Iowa

Lala is 16 years old and looks younger until he throws the ball. His fastball was 87-89 mph from a very quick and compact arm action. Most impressively, Lala threw a true curveball 76-79 mph, very high velocity for a curveball, especially from a youngster. When he got out front, it was tight and nasty.

Charles Ghysels  RHP - 2008 - Springboro, OH   Dayton

Ghysels is very comparable to Chris Wakefield (above) physically and in basic stuff as well. Wakefield has a couple of mph’s more on his fastball, as Ghysels pitched at 88 and topped out at 90 mph, but Ghysels curveball was sharp and big when he got over it properly. Ghysels pitched aggressively and showed a good idea on the mound, which is going to lead to lots of success.

Jake Hermsen  OF - 2008 - New London, WI   Northern Illinois

Hitters would have rather faced many of the pitchers above than Hermsen, based on their swings off the Wisconsin southpaw. Hermsen only threw 83-84 (we’ve heard up to 88 in the past) but he has a very deceptive delivery and the ball jumped on hitters. His 72 mph curveball was a close second to Michael Kaczmarek’s in power and bite and the deception may have made it an equal.

Trevor Edwards  C - 2008 - Toronto, ON CAN   UNC-Greensboro

Edwards really stood out defensively, he has easy/quick actions and is in control behind the plate. He’s a left handed hitter with extension in his swing, bat speed and nice power projection. As much as anything, Edwards had a great approach to the game, knew how to play and really enjoyed himself.

Jacob Esch  SS - 2008 - Chanhassen, MN   Georgia Tech

Esch has high level two-way tools and has a young face and body that projects very well. He was consistently 85-86 mph from the mound with a sharp 74 mph slurve from a tension free arm action. Esch showed power potential and bat speed at the plate as well.

Andy Cordier  RHP - 2008 - Sturgeon Bay, WI   Uncommitted

Cordier is the younger brother of Royals 2004 second round pick Erik Cordier. While he doesn’t have his brother’s velocity at the same age, he has the same type of loose, projectable body and easy arm action. He pitched steadily at 84 mph with a very promising and sharp slider.

Zachary Smith  RHP - 2008 - St. Peters, MO   Johnson County CC

Smith is a primary pitcher with an projectable, angular build and a present 83-84 mph fastball and a sharp 71 mph curveball. He graded out just as highly as a power hitter with a very projectable bat and should be followed as a two-way prospect.

Shane Blair  C - 2008 - Rock Falls, IL   Uncommitted

Blair, the brother of 2007 top RHP prospect Seth Blair, showed very good catching tools and skills, honed no doubt catching his brother for years. He’s a patient hitter with good bat speed and some power on the inside half.

Kevin Duncan  RHP - 2008 - Shawnee, KS   Uncommitted

Duncan was another strike machine, he was very consistent with a mid-80’s fastball. His best off-speed pitch was his change up and he shows potential on his breaking ball as well.

Ben Alison  RHP - 2008 - Ankeny, IA   Uncommitted

Alison is a quality two-way prospect with very good present strength and athleticism. He threw steady at 84-86 mph off the mound with a sharp 74 mph slider. He might be a better position prospect, he’s a switch-hitter with bat speed and power potential from both sides of the plate.

2009 Top Prospects

Kevin Johnson  RHP - 2009 - Midlothian, IL   Illinois

Johnson is a young sophomore with a young, very projectable body. He arm works very well and he’s already topping out at 86 mph. His off speed pitches need some work but he has the potential to be a high velocity pitcher with normal development.

Scott Marinier  RHP - 2009 - Orland Park, IL   Central Michigan

Marinier was a strike machine down in the zone with his 85-87 mph fastball and threw easily. His curveball and change up show promise and have the same type of consistency that he has in his fastball and command.

Alex Belew  LHP - 2009 - O'Fallon, MO   Austin Peay

Belew is a sophomore who only throws in the low 80’s now but is very, very projectable. He had a smooth and tension free delivery and arm action and his CB/Chg combination showed quality and polish.

Brian Krolikowski  RHP - 2009 - Batavia, IL   Austin Peay/Parkland College

Krolikowski throws from a low effort, simple delivery and tops out at 86 mph, good velocity for a sophomore. He threw both a curveball and slider and had nice feel for both pitches.

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