Regional Scouting Report: Florida
By Jim Callis
Additional reporting: Bill Ballew, John Manuel, Allan Simpson
Updated May 24, 2003
Each state or area is graded on a five-star scale, with one star indicating
a particularly weak crop and five stars a particularly strong one. The
ratings are based on the level of talent a place generally produces, so
Southern California isn't graded on the same scale as Alaska.
It's a banner year for talent in Florida, with only a subpar college crop preventing us from tagging it a five-star state. The high schools feature two of the nation's most toolsy outfielders in Ryan Harvey and Lastings Milledge, the draft's best all-around catcher in Jarrod Saltalamacchia and several quality lefthanders. The junior colleges are strong as well, with arguably the most talented player in the draft (Adam Loewen) and the two best position players (Steve Doetsch, Lou Palmisano) in the juco ranks. Surprisingly, No. 1-ranked Florida State has just one player who's certain to go in the first five rounds. The state's other two Top 25 teams, Florida Atlantic and Miami, aren't assured of having a single player chosen that high.
1. Adam Loewen lhp, Chipola JC (CONTROL: Orioles)
2. Ryan Harvey, of, Dunedin HS, Palm Harbor
3. Lastings Milledge, of, Lakewood Ranch HS, Bradenton
4. Andrew Miller, lhp, Buchholz HS, Gainesville
5. Scott Maine, lhp, Dwyer HS, Palm Beach Gardens
6. Jacob Stevens, lhp, Cape Coral HS
7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c, Royal Palm Beach HS, West Palm Beach
8. Mike Crotta, rhp, Marion County HS, Palm City
9. James Houser, lhp, Sarasota HS
10. Josh Banks, rhp, Florida International U.
11. Darin Downs, lhp, Santaluces HS, Boynton Beach
12. Brian Snyder, 3b, Stetson U.
13. Tony Richie, c, Florida State U.
14. Sean Rodriguez, ss, Braddock HS, Miami
15. Andy D'Alessio, 1b, Barron Collier HS, Naples
16. Robert Valido, ss, Coral Park HS, Miami
17. Ben Harrison, of, U. of Florida
18. Steve Doetsch, of, Indian River CC (CONTROL: Phillies)
19. Lou Palmisano, c, Broward CC
20. Chris Worster, rhp, Dwyer HS, Palm Beach Gardens
21. Paul Fagan, lhp, Bertram Trail HS, Jacksonville
22. Casey Hudspeth, rhp, Sarasota HS
23. C.J. Smith, 1b, U. of Florida
24. Justin Hoyman, lhp, U. of Florida
25. Chris Perez, rhp, The Pendleton School, Holmes Beach
26. Myron Leslie, 3b, U. of South Florida
27. Scott Leffler, c, Dunedin HS, St. Petersburg
28. T.J. Large, rhp, St. Petersburg CC (CONTROL: Diamondbacks)
29. Kyle Pearson, rhp, Mosley HS, Panama City
30. Jordan Hafer, 1b, Deerfield Beach HS
31. Chase Lirette, rhp, Lincoln HS, Tallahassee
32. Chris Pillsbury, rhp, Florida Atlantic U.
33. Jeramy Simmons, rhp, Okaloosa-Walton CC
34. Sean Watson, rhp, Florida Christian HS, Miami
35. Ricardo Nanita, of, Florida International U.
36. Robbie Widlansky, 3b, Taravella HS, Coral Springs
37. Kellen Ludwig, rhp, Chipola JC (CONTROL: Giants)
38. Bobby Wilson, c, St. Petersburg CC (CONTROL: Angels)
39. Jayson Rodriguez, rhp, Indian River CC
40. Travis NeSmith, lhp, Florida Atlantic U.
41. Trent Peterson, lhp, Florida State U.
42. Tony McQuade, of, Florida State U.
43. Danny Core, rhp, Florida Atlantic U.
44. Friedel Pinkston, rhp, Chipola JC (CONTROL: Expos)
45. Michel Simard, rhp, St. Petersburg CC (CONTROL: Angels)
46. Justin Barnes, rhp/ss, Manatee CC (CONTROL: Brewers)
47. Fernando Hernandez, rhp, Broward CC (CONTROL: White Sox)
48. Brian Barton, of, U. of Miami
49. Chris Johnson, 3b, Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers
50. Brendan Winn, of, St. Petersburg CC (CONTROL: Mets)
51. Brett Dowdy, 3b, U. of Florida
52. Ryne Malone, ss, P.K. Yonge HS, Gainesville
53. Michael Felix, lhp, Rutherford HS, Panama City
54. Michael McAllister, 1b/of, Clay HS, Green Cove Springs
55. Brian Chambers, rhp, Jefferson HS, Tampa
56. Brandon Jones, ss/of, Tallahassee CC (CONTROL: Royals)
56. Mark Michael, rhp, Central Florida U.
57. Nolan Mulligan, rhp, Chaminade-Madonna HS, Hollywood
58. Michael Wagner, lhp, Lincoln Park Academy, Fort Pierce
59. Andrew Knox, rhp, Bishop Verot HS, Fort Myers
60. Daniel Davidson, lhp, Florida State U.
61. Randy Beam, lhp, Florida Atlantic U.
62. Matt Lynch, lhp, Florida State U.
62. Andrew Edwards, rhp, Florida International U.
63. Von Stertzbach, rhp, Central Florida U.
64. David Austen, rhp, U. of South Florida
65. Donnie Burkhalter, 1b, Seminole CC (CONTROL: Blue Jays)
66. Marcos Cabral, ss, Broward CC (CONTROL: Mets)
67. Chad Hauseman, of, Jacksonville U.
68. Ryan Bear, 1b/of, U. of Central Florida
69. Eddy Rodriguez, c, Coral Gables HS, Miami
70. David Cash, ss/rhp, Northside Christian HS, Odessa
Projected First-Round Picks
Adam Loewen, lhp
The No. 4 overall pick in the 2002 draft, Loewen became the highest-selected draft-and-follow ever when he broke off negotiations with the Orioles to attend Chipola JC. The two sides were roughly $1.5 million apart when he made that decision, and there's little indication that Baltimore will up its $2.5 offer or Loewen will come down from his $4 million demand. His signability would be a concern should he re-enter the draft this June, but his stuff is indisputable. He's a 6-foot-6 lefthander who throw 90-95 mph on a tough downward angle, and both his mid-80s slider and high-70s curveball can be nasty pitches. He also has a changeup that he rarely has cause to use. He's very athletic and would be an early-round prospect as a slugging right fielder if his ceiling weren't so high on the mound. Loewen tailed off later in the season and got hit hard in his final start, a state tournament loss to Manatee CC, when his command deserted him. At times during the spring Loewen showed the ability to command his fastball to both sides of the plate; at others he seemed content to just throw his pitches over the middle of the plate. If he spurns the Orioles, he'd be the top overall pitching prospect in the 2003 draft and could go as high as No. 2 overall to the Brewers.
Ryan Harvey, of
Harvey has made an amazing comeback after blowing out his right knee in an outfield collision at the Diamond Club Classic showcase in Florida last November. After missing Dunedin High's first 17 games, he has become one of three candidates to go No. 1 overall to the Devil Rays. Harvey draws comparisons to two-time National League MVP Dale Murphy because of his huge athletic frame (6-foot-5, 215 pounds) and top-of-the-line power potential. More than just a slugger, Harvey runs well and is a potential Gold Glove right fielder. He's a more pure hitter than former Dunedin teammate Steve Doetsch, now a top juco prospect at Indian River CC. Harvey also threw 90-93 mph on the mound in the past but gave up pitching this year while overcoming his injury. Some scouts believe he has the best overall package of tools in the nation, and he shouldn't get past the Royals and Cubs, who choose fifth and sixth.
Lastings Milledge, of
Milledge's tools stack up well against Harvey's, though they come in a smaller package (6-foot-1, 185 pounds). He has one of the quickest bats in the draft, and his arm and speed both rate 70s on the 20-80 scouting scale. He emerged as a prospect before Harvey did and has had a hard time living up to the excessive hypean almost impossible task in any case. After tying Delmon Young for the Team USA juniors batting lead at .474 last summer, he struggled at the Baseball America/Perfect Game World Wood Bat showcase last October. At times this spring, he has shown holes against breaking pitches and an inability to adjust against top pitchers. In 2002, he was investigated for improper conduct with a female minor, and though he never was formally charged, the incident has scared off some clubs. Milledge was gaining momentum as the draft approached and helped his cause with a homer off Sarasota High ace James Houser in mid-April. Milledge could go as high as eighth overall to the Pirates, and he also could drop to the second half of the first round if there's a run on college players.
Andrew Miller, lhp
Miller entered the season as the top-rated high school pitcher in the country, and at midseason he claimed the No. 1 slot on BA's Top 50 High School Prospects list. He was pitching at 91-95 mph with a silky smooth arm action that made his fastball deceptive and overpowering. His hard breaking ball was one of the best in the high school ranks. And the scariest part was at 6-foot-6 and 192 pounds, he projected to get even stronger. As his innings built up, Miller got tired and had trouble maintaining his mechanics and velocity. His stock has slipped slightly and Texas' John Danks has passed him as the best high school southpaw. Nevertheless, he should be a mid-first-round pick.
Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks
Scott Maine, lhp
Maine and righthander Chris Worster gave Dwyer High the state's foremost 1-2 punch, just slightly ahead of Sarasota's James Houser and Casey Hudspeth. Maine is the best pitcher of the bunch, using a short, quick arm stroke to develop 89-92 mph fastballs that seem to explode out of his hand. He used to have a little more velocity but since has dropped his arm slot to more of a three-quarters angle, which gave him more run on his fastball. His curveball is a second plus pitch, and he has a decent change. At 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, he has plenty of room to grow. There are some minor concerns about how he drops his elbow in his delivery, but he still has a chance to go in the supplemental first round.
Jacob Stevens, lhp
Stevens opened a lot of eyes in mid-March, when he overmatched Milledge. He has done that to a lot of Florida hitters with an arsenal that includes a low-90s fastball, hard curveball and solid changeup. He has a thicker frame and more power to his game than Maine does, his curve has more of a downward break and his change is slightly superior. But Stevens also exerts a lot more effort in his delivery and isn't as projectable. Scouts compare him to a bigger and stronger version of Sterling Hitchcock because they have the same arm action.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, c
In a down year for catchers, Saltalamacchia offers the best array of tools behind the plate. He's agile and athletic for a backstop at 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, and has arm strength and receiving skills. Offensively, he's a switch-hitter with above-average power potential. He does have his detractors, however, who think he's more of a standout at showcases than in game action. His swing is long and he'll need to make adjustments when he switches to wood bats, and his footwork and release will require some work. The biggest question is his ability to hit for average, but it won't stop him from going in the second or third round.
Mike Crotta, rhp
Unlike the pitchers ahead of him on this list, Crotta is considered a tough sign. It may take second-round money to divert him from Florida Atlantic, and he may get picked high enough to get it. He has a big frame (6-foot-6 and 220 pounds) and sits at 88-91 mph with his lively fastball, which tops out at 93. His slider is good at times and lazy at others. One scout says Crotta has the best high school changeup in the state. Despite his size and velocity, Crotta's pitchability stands out more than his arm speed. He'll improve once he firms up his body a little more.
James Houser, lhp
Houser originally projected as a first-round pick, but he repeatedly topped out at 88 mph and has a heart murmur that concerns teams. He could last until the end of the second round or even later, which may make it difficult to lure him away from the University of Florida. Houser has hit 91 mph in the past, and there's more velocity in his 6-foot-5, 180-pound frame. He has a better body than Maine or Stevens and more polish than Miller. At times his curveball and changeup are plus pitches, but he has thrown too many breaking balls this spring.
Josh Banks, rhp
The best college prospect in the state, Banks looked like a first-rounder at midseason but was inconsistent in the second half and will drop a round or two. He missed his last two regular-season starts with blister problems that arose when he threw his recently developed splitter too often. Banks is aggressive and goes after hitters with a 90-94 mph fastball, hard slider, splitter and changeup. His slider is his second-best pitch and his changeup has improved. His only real shortcoming is the lack of life on his fastball. He has a solid delivery, throws strikes and maintains his velocity late into games.
Darin Downs, lhp
Downs isn't as overpowering as the lefties ahead of him on this list, but they can't match his pitchability. He's the most polished prep pitcher in the nation and compares well to Pirates prospect Sean Burnett, a 2000 first-rounder out of a Florida high school. Downs' stuff isnt quite in Burnett's class, as he has an 85-88 mph fastball, but one scout says Downs has the best command he has seen in 20 years and could handle Double-A right now. There are differing opinions on whether his curveball or his changeup is his top pitch, but the combination allows him to keep hitters off balance with a fastball that lacks velocity and movement. Downs missed a month earlier in the year with shoulder tendinitis, though that's not an issue now. While he may never throw harder than 90 mph, he's able to dominate with his finesse approach.
Brian Snyder, 3b
Snyder helped himself immensely in the Cape Cod League last summer, where he hit for average and power with wood bats. He also showed that he's more athletic than his stocky build (6 feet, 195 pounds) might indicate. As an encore, he has turned in a strong junior season in which he has walked nearly twice as much as he has struck out. That will appeal to teams that value statistical performance. Snyder has been linked to two such teams, the Blue Jays and Red Sox, as a possible first-rounder but more likely will last another round or two. He has gap power but perhaps not enough for a big league third baseman, which may prompt a move to second once he turns pro. He struggled at second base with Stetston this year before returning to the hot corner, where his reactions and instincts make him a better fit.
Tony Richie, c
Richie has a reputation for indifferent play, but his supporters say that's unfair because he's so smooth behind the plate that it makes him look lackadaisical. Few catchers frame pitches as well as Richie does, a major factor in No. 1 Florida State's 2.77 regular-season ERA, the second-best in NCAA Division I. He had shoulder surgery after his freshman year but has recovered. He shows average arm strength and makes accurate throws. Richie has a long swing geared to the short right-field porch at Dick Howser Stadium and doesn't look strong with the bat. Opponents say they can pound him inside with fastballs and dont think he'll show much power as a pro. But catchers are scarce and he's so gifted defensively that a team could overdraft him in the first round. On talent, he's more of a third- to fifth-rounder.
Sean Rodriguez, ss
Relegated to center field by Robert Valido at Coral Park High, Rodriguez transferred to Braddock last winter so he'd get the opportunity to play shortstop. He has the arm, hands and actions for the position, though some scouts wonder if he's more of a second baseman on the pro level. Others think he'd make a fine catcher. His line-drive swing should make him an above-average offensive performer at any of the three positions. Rodriguez' instincts are outstanding, no surprise considering that his father Johnny manages in the Marlins system and his brother Robert plays in the Expos organization. He'll have to compete with Valido again if both follow through on their commitments to Florida International, though both are expected to sign as third- or fourth-round selections.
Andy D'Alessio, 1b
Teams will have to make a call on D'Alessio without seeing him at 100 percent for much of the season. He broke the hamate bone in his right wrist swinging a bat in March and returned before he was fully healthy. He's committed to Clemson and may not sign unless he gets second- or third-round money. That would have been a lock had he not been hurt, because he has one of the best lefty power swings in the draft. He's seen as a slightly less disciplined and less agile version of Nick Johnson, and not surprisingly the Yankees have been one of the teams in on him the most. D'Alessio probably is limited to first base but handles himself well around the bag.
Robert Valido, ss
Valido is part of a rich Coral Park shortstop tradition that also includes 2000's No. 3 overall pick, Luis Montanez. His defensive skills (strong arm, smooth actions, reliable hands) enabled him to hold off Rodriguez. He's the best defensive shortstop in Florida, though not quite in the same class as Robert Andino, a Marlins second-round pick out of a Miami high school last year. Offensively, he can't match Rodriguez' ceiling, but a team that believes Valido will produce at the plate could pop him as early as the second round.
Ben Harrison, of
From a tools standpoint, it's hard to find fault with Harrison. Scouts said he had the best body in the Cape Cod League last summer: a sculpted 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, with 3 percent body fat. He's strong and runs well, and while he doesn't have above-average arm strength, he makes accurate throws and can handle right field as a pro. However, for a player who has spent three years at a major program, Harrison is still raw. He never has had a huge season for the Gators, and he's perceived as a mistake hitter with a slider-speed bat. He still could go as high as the second or third round to a team that prizes athleticism and believes it can teach him to make more contact.
Steve Doetsch, of
Doetsch is a junior college version of Harrison with even better tools. He runs and throws better and projects as a pro center fielder. A specimen at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Doetsch still has to prove he can hit consistently. He did make some strides this year at Indian River CC, but he still needs to shorten his stride, become more disciplined and make other adjustments. He struggles against breaking balls. A 2002 eighth-round pick by Philadelphia, Doetsch is the best juco position player in the 2003 draft. He doesn't have a good relationship with the Phillies, so teams have sent crosscheckers in to see him-which is uncommon for top
Lou Palmisano, c
Palmisano ranks right behind Doetsch among national juco position prospects, and he'll definitely be part of the 2003 draft mix because he's not under control. Teams have known about him for a while, and he turned down $175,000 as a 21st-round pick out of high school two years ago. He wasn't drafted in 2002 because he hurt his shoulder and required offseason surgery. He doesn't have a gun behind the plate, but he has good footwork and accuracy. He's a very athletic 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, with average speed and opposite-field power to right-center field. Palmisano was very impressive at the Florida state juco tournament and could have pushed himself into the third round. The shortage of catchers works in his favor.
Chris Worster, rhp
Worster has pitched in Maine's shadow at Dwyer High, getting a late start this spring because he had tendinitis in his elbow. He was fine when he returned, throwing 88-92 mph with a good curveball. He's still projectable at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, and led Dwyer in hitting as a shortstop. His biggest needs at this point are to add some movement to his fastball, improve the consistency of his curve and develop his change. He's college-oriented and committed to Tulane, but that likely won't stop a team from taking him early and trying to change his mind.
Paul Fagan, lhp
University of Florida coach Pat McMahon coached Bartram Trail High coach Tony Sowers in high school, so it's not surprising that Fagan, Bartram's ace, committed to the Gators. Whether he gets to Gainesville is another matter, as he's yet another talented Sunshine State lefty. Fagan has a classic pro body at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds and reaches the low 90s with a fastball that also features nice arm-side run. He needs some polish for his slurvy breaking ball and his command.
Casey Hudspeth, rhp
A teammate of Houser, Hudspeth would rank much higher if he were taller than 5-foot-9. While he doesn't offer much projection, he already has very good stuff and is considered very signable. He has a 90-94 mph fastball, and his curveball may be a better pitch because it has excellent depth and a sharp break. Hudspeth also knows what he's doing on the mound and won't require much beyond coming up with an effective changeup.
C.J. Smith, 1b
While Harrison has gotten more attention, the sophomore-eligible Smith has been more productive for the Gators. He's a 6-foot-3, 208-pound first baseman with long arms and more usable power. He led Florida with 16 homers this spring after redshirting in 2001 and going 1-for-13 last year. A high school shortstop, he's solid defensively at first base and athletic enough to play on an outfield corner if needed.
Justin Hoyman, rhp
A 43rd-round pick out of Brevard (Fla.) CC a year ago, Hoyman could go 40 rounds higher in 2003. He carves hitters up with a sinker/slider/splitter combination. He throws strikes, gets movement on all his pitches and induces a lot of ground balls. Because of his feel for pitching, Hoyman doesn't need blazing velocity to win. He usually throws in the high 80s, but it's easy to project him reaching the low 90s down the road. He has an effortless arm action and packs just 175 pounds on his 6-foot-4 frame. He has gained 25 pounds since joining the University of Florida, and should add another 15-20.
Chris Perez, rhp
Perez attends The Pendleton School and works at The Baseball Academy, part of IMG's multisport complex in Bradenton. He's very physical at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds and throws in the low 90s and owns a potentially devastating 12-6 curveball. He has gotten into better shape than he was at Manatee High a year ago, but Perez tends to lose command and velocity after the first innings or so. A top student, he may be tough to sign away from the University of Miami.
Myron Leslie, 3b
Leslie has some intriguing positives but no clear pro position. He's a 6-foot-3, 210-pound switch-hitter with strength and plate discipline. He hasn't hit for much power this year because he has been pitched around constantly, but he has more juice in his bat. He has arm strength and decent hands at shortstop, but his footwork is poor enough that third base may be out of the question. Leslie played at the hot corner in the Cape Cod League last year, receiving mixed reviews. He needs to work on his feet and his righthanded swing.
Scott Leffler, c
Playing on Harvey's team has increased Leffler's exposure, and some scouts say Leffler is the best catch-and-throw guy in the nation. He's a better defender than Saltalamacchia, though he doesn't have the same strength and upside. Leffler has struggled at the plate against better competition because his swing is a bit long. At 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, he's a good athlete for a catcher.
Others To Watch
RHP T.J. Large was part of Seminole (Fla.) High's 2001 national championship team, on which he was a teammate of Angels first-rounder Casey Kotchman. Large has spent the last two years in junior college, at Chipola in 2002 and St. Petersburg this year. He's aptly named, because he's 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds. Large throws 89-92 mph with a nice downer curveball, and could go as high as the fifth round if the Diamondbacks don't sign him as a 32nd-round draft-and-follow. His catcher at Seminole was
Bobby Wilson, the 2003 Florida juco player of the year. He's more of a slugger but has improved behind the plate. Editor's note: Wilson has been reunited with Kotchman after signing with the Angels as a draft-and-follow.
There are plenty of strong high school arms in the Florida Panhandle, with the two best belonging to RHPs
Kyle Pearson and Chase Lirette. Both can reach the low 90s, while Pearson has a better breaking ball (hard slider) and Lirette has more projection (6-foot-5, 205 pounds). LHP Michael Felix topped out at 91 mph when he faced off against Pearson. He also has a good curveball and is just 17. Lirette's teammate, RHP Clegs Snipes, can hit 92 mph but isn't as projectable.
1B Jordan Hafer and 3B Robbie Widlansky have much in common. They're talented offensive players who are committed to Florida Atlantic and won't sign cheap. Widlansky's brother Josh plays infield for the Owls.
Speaking of Florida Atlantic, four pitchers off the nation's No. 12-ranked team should become mid-round draft picks. They may actually get drafted in reverse order of their effectiveness, with RHP Chris Pillsbury going first and being followed by LHP Travis NeSmith, RHP Danny Core and LHP Randy Beam. Pillsbury has the best stuff, with a 90-92 mph fastball and solid slider, but he had to go to the bullpen to straighten out his mechanics. NeSmith is a 6-foot-3 lefthander who also touches 92, but he has a violent delivery and has been mired at 85-88 mph this spring. Core throws strikes with a high-80s fastball and a hard curveball. Beam has the worst arm strength, usually sitting in the low 90s, but he was also 13-1 and has attracted the interest of the Red Sox with his 78-17 strikeout-walk ratio in 94 innings. His out pitch is a plus changeup.
RHP Jeramy Simmons is the state's top juco pitcher not under control. His slider was the best breaking ball at the state tournament, and he also has an 88-92 mph fastball and throws his changeup for strikes. RHP Jayson Rodriguez is another quality juco arm with no strings attached. He transferred from Seton Hall last winter and hit 93 mph early in the spring. He also has an effective cut fastball and projects as a reliever.
RHP Sean Watson, the University of Tennessee's top recruit, threw 86-88 mph as a sophomore and junior but bumped to this spring. His spike curveball is an effective No. 2 pitch, though he needs to maintain a consistent arm slot.
Dominican OF Ricardo Nanita will need a visa to play pro ball in the U.S., possibly reducing his value. He's a center fielder who provides lefthanded pop and arm strength. Dominican RHP Mumbo Rivera of Bethune-Cookman is in the same situation. He's a wiry 6-foot-3 and owns an 87-91 mph fastball.
Loewen wasn't the only power arm on the Chipola staff. RHP Kellen Ludwig sprained his foot early in the year but can reach 95 mph and is unhittable when his curve is working. RHP Friedel Pinkston went through a dead-arm period but got back up to 93 mph by season's end. Ludwig is under control to the Giants, Pinkston to the Expos.
The best of the rest of the Florida's draft-and-follows are RHP Michel Simard (Angels), RHP/SS
Justin Barnes (Brewers), RHP Fernando Hernandez (White Sox), OF Brendan Winn (Mets), SS/OF
Brandon Jones (Royals), 1B Donnie Burkhalter (Blue Jays) and SS Marcos Cabral (Mets). Barnes had signed with Milwaukee, Cabral with the Mets. Simard is a muscular 6-foot-5, hits 94 mph and has some pitchability. Barnes wants to play shortstop and hit a long homer off Ludwig at the state tournament, but his future is on the mound thanks to his 90-92 mph fastball and power slider. Though he's just 5-foot-11, Hernandez throws harder (92-96 mph) than either of them. Winn is one of the state's fastest players and has power to boot. Jones is more of an athlete than a baseball player, and the 2002 sixth-round pick was hampered by groin and hamstring problems this spring. Burkhalter, a hulk at 6-foot-4 and at least 250 pounds, has massive power and was MVP of the state tournament after leading Seminole to the championship. Cabral is a steady defender and is similar to Miami-area shortstop Robert Andino, a Marlins second-rounder a year ago. Editor's note: Barnes and Cabral have signed as draft-and-follows.
Florida State's best 2003 draft prospect was RHP Mark LaMacchia-until he had Tommy John surgery in mid-May. He was throwing three quality pitches, including a 91-92 mph sinker. Now that honor falls to Trent Peterson, one of four Seminoles southpaws who should get picked. Peterson, who ended Kyle Sleeth's NCAA record-tying 26-game winning streak, throws in the mid-80s and relies on his changeup and command. Seniors Daniel Davidson, Matt Lynch and Daniel Hodges also rely on finesse. Hodges doesn't throw harder than 80 mph, but hitters don't make good contact against his screwball and changeup. Lynch was a Padres seventh-rounder in 2002 but hasn't thrown as well and won't go that high again.
Tony McQuade replaced 2001 Yankees first-rounder John-Ford Griffin as Florida State's left fielder and is the Seminoles' best draft-eligible position player. A gap hitter who runs well, he has shifted to center this spring and possibly could play in right as a pro.
Like the Seminoles, Miami also lost its top draft prospect to Tommy John surgery. RHP Danny Touchet was getting outs with an 86-89 mph fastball and hard slurve before his elbow gave out. Now the most attractive Hurricane is OF Brian Barton, who's not ready for pro ball and may not even be picked in the first 10 rounds. A draft-eligible sophomore after transferring from Loyola Marymount and sitting out 2002 when he didn't get his release, he has raw skills but big league bat speed and an athletic body (6-foot-3, 182 pounds). An aerospace engineering major on a full academic scholarship, he's unlikely to sign.
Three of Florida's better prospects have fathers who reached the pinnacle of their sports. 3B Chris Johnson, who has a lot of tools and upside, is the son of Ron, a former big league first baseman and current Double-A manager for the Red Sox. SS/RHP David Cash, a projectable athlete, is the son of three-time all-star second baseman Dave. Miami 1B Jim Burt Jr. is a smaller version of his dad, a former Hurricanes football star who won two Super Bowls as a nose tackle with the Giants and 49ers.
3B Brett Dowdy and SS Ryne Malone likely will move to second base when they make the jump to the next level. Dowdy hits line drives, makes plays and is very aggressive. Malone broke the state high school record for career hits record, held by 1987 Tigers first-round pick Bill Henderson.
RHP Andrew Edwards was Florida International's No. 1 starter in 2002, ahead of Banks, but blew out his elbow in his first game after transferring from Briarcliffe (N.Y.) JC. He came back quickly, pitching again this March, and has pitched between 86-92 mph. Very athletic at 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, he may be attractive to some team that will draft him now as a redshirt junior and control his rights as a fifth-year senior.
OF Chad Hauseman slugged nearly 300 points over his previous career mark this year to win Atlantic Sun player-of-the-year honors and challenge the Dolphins school record. As a fifth-year senior, he was eligible to sign as a free agent before the draft.
Bartow High OF Alex Boston offers an intriguing mix of raw power and athleticism, but tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while playing soccer in January. It's unlikely he'll be drafted, so he'll head to Florida State on a football scholarship. A rush specialist/defensive end who's expected to be redshirted this fall, he hopes to play baseball for the Seminoles next spring.
American Heritage High's (Sunrise) Pete Taraskevich is a legitimate switch-pitcher who has identical mechanics from both sides and throws harder as a righty. The Major League Scouting Bureau turned him in as a decent prospect in March.