July 8, 2002

Team One Central Top-10 Prospects

Team One Top TenBATON ROUGE, LA- This is the first year of the Team One Central Showcase and we chose Alex Box Stadium at Louisiana State as our site. About 75 players participated, consisting primarily of residents from Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

Still, it was a Florida player who took the #1 Prospect crown; shortstop Robert Valido.

Catcher was definitely the strongest position in Baton Rouge. Two backstops made the Top-10 and several others are strong candidates to be among the 25 nominees for the Team One National Prospects Game. Those 25 will be posted here on Tuesday, July 9th.

The Top-10 Prospects were evaluated and ranked by Team One staff Stan Brzezicki, Carl Andrietta, Scott Zilmer, and Jeff Spelman as well as myself.

Only 2003-graduating high school players were considered on the basis of the pro draft potential.

Top-10 Prospects at Team One Central
1. Robert Valido, SS, Coral Park (FL) HS 6-0, 180 R/R
Valido is a pure shortstop, with athletic actions in the field and at the plate. He has the feet, arm, and hands to play the diamondís toughest position, plus bat-speed and pop from the right side. He needs to tone down his swing at times to make consistent contact against pro pitching, but the potential is there for him to become a multi-tooler.

2. Jonathan Hancock, SS/RHP, Tupelo (MS) HS 6-5, 200 R/R
Itís rare to see a 6-5 kid with such good control of his body, but Hancock has surprising athleticism. The present-day tools arenít "plus", but thereís an awful lot of projection. Though shortstop is unlikely in pro ball, heís viable at third base, a corner outfield, or even on the mound. Hancock has extension to his swing and power potential. His hands and feet will play out and he ran a 7.03 60 yd. On the mound, Hancock was in the mid-high-80s with some feel for a breaking ball. With his body and fine arm-action, Hancock might have early-round potential as a pitcher, too. His brother Josh is a former first-rounder and heís currently in the Red Sox system.

3. Kevin Nail, OF, Clear Creek (TX) HS 6-0, 205 R/R
True to his name, Nail proved to be a tough competitor. His tools grade out impressively. Nail has close to MLB bat-speed and drives the ball hard. He ran a 6.7 60 yd and showed range for the outfield. His raw arm-strength has a chance to be right field-caliber in time. Scouts will question his projectability because heís a physically mature and thick 6-0. Still, his tools and performance could still get him taken early in 2003.

4. Pat Ezell, RHP, Petal (MS) HS 6-1, 165 R/R
Ezell has a quick, loose arm, and 88-92 MPH arm-strength. With such an immature body, scouts have to be intrigued with his projection. Ezell also showed an impressive snap on his curveball, which is almost MLB-caliber already. Improved command of his fastball and perhaps some physical strengthening will make him even better.

5. Tony Portugal, RHP, Ft. Lauderdale Northeast (FL) HS 6-2, 195 R/R
Portugal might have had the most arm-strength in Baton Rouge. He was between 87-93 MPH, despite being hampered with a bad right leg (complicated spider bite). Portugal has a strong pitcherís frame and a three-quarter slot that puts a lot of movement on his heater. Heíll need to refine a breaking ball, probably a slider, to become an early pick and advance through a pro system.

6. Hudson Smart, SS, Pine Bluff (AR) HS 6-0, 155 R/R
Smart is a live-bodied shortstop who makes all the plays. He just might have the arm and agility to stay there. Offensively, Smart could turn into a hitter as he gets stronger. The hitting actions and balance are there. Smart ran a 7.0 60 yd, but seemed much faster in baseball distances. There are no standout present-day tools, but heís pretty solid all-around and live bodies have a way of really coming around with repetitions.

7. Landon Leach, C, Russellville (AR) HS 6-1, 195 S/R
Leach is a polished receiver, with a 1.9 pop-time arm, and the potential to hit with power from both sides of the plate. The whole package is there and he seems a safe pro pick as well as big-time college catcher. Leach is also a football quarterback who may play both sports at a high-D1 level. His frame is nearing maturity and there may be some hesitance from scouts about his projection.

8. Will Rice, OF, Lamar (TX) HS 5-10, 175 R/R
No outfielder had Riceís raw tools across the board. He showed a major league arm, 6.8 speed, and impressive bat-speed and power off of contact. Rice didnít drive the ball a lot in the games, but the potential is there. Though heís well-built at 5-10, heís nearing maturity and may not project a whole lot in the eyes of scouts. Still, the arm, speed, and bat are pretty close right now and with some mechanical work on his throwing and hitting, Rice will be very interesting.

9. Jeff Lamb, C, Owasso (OK) HS 6-1, 195 R/R
Lamb could turn into a power/power pro catcher in time. He is physically strong, with broad shoulders, and the potential to put on another 15-20 pounds of muscle. With a lock-and-load swing, Lamb gets a lot of extension and can pull the ball a long way. His raw arm-strength was the best among a strong group of catchers and with quicker feet, he could become a "plus" big league thrower. Lamb will need to make better adjustments and pick up his trigger-speed at the plate to take advantage of his power. His brother was a Top-10 Prospect at the 2000 Team One West and now a sophomore at Oral Roberts.

10. Jack Harris, OF, Ronald Reagan (TX) HS 5-10, 170 L/R
Harris is very solid across the board and he could develop in a number of directions. He generated bat-speed and showed enough lift to project for power with wood. Defensively, Harris has a nice glide (6.9 60 yd) and with better use of his lower body, he could turn into a right field-like thrower. Size and projection is a question mark, but notable is that his frame has a lot more room to fill out. His father Brad happens to be 6-6.

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