Between the gifted arms of Lawrence Academy's Tyler Beede, St. John's Prep's Pat Connaughton, Lincoln-Sudbury's Adam Ravenelle and Dexter's John Magliozzi, we have an unusually high amount of high school players in the New England region who could see their names getting called in the Major League Baseball Draft, which starts with the first round Monday night.
At the beginning of the high school season, I caught up with an American League scout who projected eight high schoolers that could see their names called. But with BB&N's Andrew Chin on the shelf with Tommy John surgery, and the play of Dexter's Barrett O'Neill and BB&N's Devin Perry dipping a bit, the number of bona fide locks has decreased.
Still, the projections at the top haven't budged, and it starts with Beede, a 6-foot-4 righthander from Auburn who could become the first high schooler from Massachusetts taken in the first round since Peabody High's Jeff Allison in 2003.
"Obviously, the most notable is Beede," said Red Sox Director of Amateur Scouting Amiel Sawdaye, at the club's pre-draft press conference last Wednesday at Fenway Park. "Excellent pitcher, guy we’ve scouted for a long time, we’ve gotten the chance to see him over the summer, seen him this year. Even some of the other guys -- Connaughton, Magliozzi, Ravenelle -- all good athletes signed to good schools, good students, good kids.
"And that’s exciting. To be able to go to the local games and see those guys pitch, it’s exciting for us. You get home games. We normally don’t get those until the Cape [League]."
Traditionally it's been pitchers getting selected out of the local high schools over the years, so it's no surprise that all of the names being thrown around are 90-mile per hour fireballers. And while this year's class has an abundance of players with prototypical pitcher's builds, they also come on the draft market perceivably fresher, what with the limited amount of time playing outdoors.
"We talk about cold weather kids. You know, sometimes they don’t hit their stride until, a lot of times, the summer," Sawday said. "So, you blink and another team takes a player from the Midwest, Northeast, different region where it’s a cold weather region, and the kid’s throwing 94, 95, where in the spring he was throwing 92.
"It gives us an advantage to be able to go watch those kids progress, and I think the other thing is the proximity of being around these guys and being able to see them get better year after year, see how they take off. As a junior, they’re taking off in the summer. As a senior, they’re taking off in the summer. And yeah, I think you can look at it as an advantage."
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein echoed similar comments, noting the desire of northeast kids playing in a smaller period of warm weather, as well as the easier projections.
"Guys around here, their best baseball is yet to come," Epstein said. "They don’t get out on the field until April sometimes, with the snow on the ground, and you can project these guys going forward. I think makeup is good too. You have to go to baseball here. Compared to California, Texas, Florida, where it’s there 365 days of the year, here you’ve got a short window to play, and you’ve got to relish the opportunity and make the most of it. It’s easy to project off these kids in the northeast."
Added Sawdaye, "We were just watching video of a kid throwing in the snow, so that tells you what some of these kids go through."
I revisited with scouts again late last week, for their thoughts on the top prospects in the area. Below are the scouting reports and projections on seven New Englanders you will definitely see coming across the ticker.
Tyler Beede, RHP, Lawrence Academy
Hometown: Auburn, Mass.
Weight: 205 lbs
Scout’s Take: “I’d say Tyler has basically done everything the scouts and pro evaluators have asked him to do, repeating his delivery, a breaking ball that’s consistent with your average major league pitch. He’s shown velocity they’ve been looking for. His last start, he was consistently hitting 93 to 95. All the intangibles are there. I think that’s as good of a prospect we’ve had in a long time in New England."
Projection: Late first round to Sandwich A. (“That’s assuming signability doesn’t get in the way,” said the scout. “He’s going to be a pricey pick, but I think there are teams willing to go that route.)
Pat Connaughton, RHP, St. John’s Prep
Hometown: Arlington, Mass.
Weight: 190 lbs
College: Notre Dame (baseball and basketball)
Scout’s Take: “He's been one of the most intriguing prospects of the spring. His velocity has been anywhere from 90 to 94 every outing, a real plus fastball at times with late life on it, which you certainly– can’t teach. His arm is as loose as anyone’s. The only question right now if he puts enough time into his delivery where the off-speed catches up to his fastball. The hardest part of signing him is going to be getting him away from his passion for playing basketball. It looks like he wants to compete for a pro team that will allow him to do that as well.”
Projection: First five rounds.
John Magliozzi, RHP, Dexter
Hometown: Milton, Mass.
Weight: 180 lbs
Scout’s Take: “Johnny’s been a little inconsistent with his velocity, and that’s led people to press questions about whether that frame is going to be durable over the long haul. His velocity has taken a step back, it’s been in the 87-90 range where people might have expected 92 to 94. Whether that’s reasonable or not, that’s what these guys are looking for. He’s shown signs that he’s going to compete for you, but they need to see that prominent velocity from a frame like that.”
Projection: First 10 rounds.
Adam Ravenelle, RHP Lincoln-Sudbury
Hometown: Sudbury, Mass.
Weight: 185 lbs
Scout’s Take: “Ravenelle may have taken the biggest step forward of anyone this spring. Critics questioned his ability to repeat his delivery, but his fastball consistently comes over the plate with a good angle. People wonder when he would decide on an arm slot, but he’s done a tremendous job on keeping to a low three-quarter slot and remaining on top of the ball. He’s also shown he's able to throw that breaking ball for strikes consistently, which hasn't always been the case. The best part about him is he has matured from a mental standpoint. He attacks the game now as a pitcher and not just a thrower by working efficiently with his pitch counts to get outs early in the game without trying to strike everyone out.”
Projection: First 20 rounds. (“He’s a potential top-five talent, but everyone’s sold on the idea that he’s going to end up at Vanderbilt,” the scout said.)
Jordan Cote, RHP, Winnisquam Regional (N.H.)
Hometown: Sanbornton, N.H.
Weight: 215 lbs
College: Coastal Carolina
Scout’s Take: “He’s the one that’s been climbing the most. I’d say Cote was one that was kind of a sleeper early in the season. People had to wait and see what you get out of him, being in a Northern climate, playing on 35-degree days more so than Mass kids. Early on, he struggled, was hitting 87-88, then over the last two or three weeks, as the weather warmed up he found his groove. He’s really climbed into the upper echelon of high school prospects. You look at that frame, 6-6, 215, and there’s a lot of projectability. You could see him filling out to 240, and see that fastball velocity increase because of the hand speed he demonstrates."
Projection: First five rounds.
John Gorman, RHP/3B, Catholic Memorial
Hometown: Norwood, Mass.
Weight: 215 lbs
College: Boston College
Scout’s Take: “He’s still in the mix, guys mostly look at him as being a college guy. But, he will step in regardless and be one of the best players on the BC squad when he gets there…. He’s an interesting one. He’s one of the guys people talked about earlier in the year being a bulldog, and one of the best high school kids around. He’s obviously lived up to that being named Gatorade Player of the Year in a year full of big names. He’ll likely see time in college as a corner infielder and a pitcher. I think that over the next two or three years, he’s going to have a lot of success at the college level. His fastball velocity can climb into the 91-92 range, and he can throw his off-speed consistently into the strike zone. I’d imagine his name being called on draft day, as he deserves it.”
Projection: First 20 rounds.
Sal Romano, RHP, Southington (Conn.)
Hometown: Southington, Conn.
Weight: 220 lbs
Scout’s Take: "Sal'’s another one of those big body high school kids we’ve been blessed with this year. His delivery has some work to do, but he’s shown great velocity on his fastball, up to 93. The feel for the spin on his breaking ball is advanced for his age. His signability demands may push him down in the draft this year, but he’s definitely one to follow."
Projection: Top 10 rounds.