July 24, 2001

Team One East: Top-10 Prospects

The Top-10 is dominated by pitching as only three players listed are primary position players. The event was filled with projectable arms who threw in the mid-80s and quite a few who grade out as solid high-D1 (Top-25 school) prospects.

Compared to last year, there wasnít nearly as much speed, though a loose, dampened track had some effect. There were a whopping seven times under 6.75 in the 2000 East Coast Regional whereas only Florida outfielder Jemalle Cornelius beat that this year, running a blazing 6.50. In fact, his time would have even been the best in last yearís group.

Despite the otherwise lack of speed, there was better pitching overall in 2001 and more depth among catchers and outfielders. Though they are ineligible for this list, the group of 2003-graduating players was outstanding and they project to be pro prospects down the road.

1. Elijah Dukes, OF/RHP, Hillsborough HS, FL R/R 6-2, 230
Dukes personifies the term "Man Child". He is as physically intimidating as it gets at a rock-hard 230 lbs and his tools are scary. Dukesí raw power is tremendous and he takes one of the most violent swings Iíve seen in a high school player. Surprisingly, he also showed the ability to tone it down and hit bleeders through the infield.

Dukes ran a 6.93 60 yd and looked even faster on the bases. Heís a definite base-stealing threat and an aggressive baserunner at that. Pitchers were notably rattled when he was drawing pick-off throws. Dukes uses his speed well in the outfield and gets decent jumps. His arm is loose and his throws have enough carry to project as a pro rightfielder one day.

Dukes was throwing in the mid-80s during his one-inning appearance and got through the inning before he could show a curveball. Many of those whoíve seen him pitch in the Tampa-area think his future is on the bump. With his size and his arm-action, he certainly looks the part, but his physical tools on the other side make it hard to believe.

2. Jensen Lewis, RHP, Anderson HS, OH R/R 6-2, 175
Lewis showed a lot of arm-strength, touching 94 MPH a few times and pitching consistently at 89-91. He has strong legs under a projectable 6-2 frame, and the arm-action to indicate heíll throw even harder as he matures. Lewis showed the makings of a big league curveball (68-71 MPH) and slider (77 MPH), with the slider seeming most advanced at this time.

Lewis pitched well but didnít dominate this level, mainly because his fastball was straight and his command off-and-on. But those are things easily refined and he could become an early-rounder by next June.

3. Jon Allen, RHP, The Benjamin School, FL R/R 6-8, 225
It doesnít take long for Allenís size to catch your attention. And he pitched consistently in the high-80s, touching the low-90s. Most impressive was his advanced downer curveball, which was among the best in Clemson.

Like any oversized young pitcher, Allen does have a lot of moving parts to coordinate in his delivery and in his second inning of work he became more unglued. He shows decent athleticism and has at least the potential to get locked-in.

Allen will also need to pitch inside more, as he tended to finesse hitters by staying on the outside corner.

4. Zach Zuercher, LHP/1B, Pilgrim HS, RI L/L 6-2, 190
Zuercher put himself in as a primary pitcher, but he is a promising lefthanded hitter as well. That combination earns him the #4 ranking.

Zuercherís polish and refinement on the mound defy his cold-weather Rhode Island upbringing. He throws consistently in the mid-80s with effective running movement on his fastball. Zuercherís curve is a sharp downer that earns both strikeouts and off-balance pop-ups. He showed outstanding command of both pitches and the ability to work hitters.

He will need to add a few MPHs to become an early draft, but has the arm-action and the projectable body to do it. A polished third pitch will also be in order at some point.

At the plate, Zuercher stands in very well and takes a short, strong hack. Despite being a primary pitcher, he might have had the best lefthanded swing in camp. There is definitely power potential and he has the athleticism to become a decent defensive first baseman.

5. Brian Holliday, LHP, Moon Township HS, PA L/L 6-2, 180
Like Zuercher, Holliday is a polished lefty from a cold-weather environment who could step in and be a factor for a Top-25 D1 program as a freshman. Holliday has a lot of projection as well, with outstanding arm-action and a 6-2 frame that has plenty of room to fill out.

Holliday was consistently in the mid-80s with a very sharp low-70s curveball. His curve has a big 12-to-6 drop and will be a strikeout pitch. He has pretty good command of both pitches.

Also like Zuercher, Holliday showed potential as a hitter, but he clearly has a higher ceiling on the mound.

6. Chris Munn, OF, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, FL R/R 6-4, 175
Munn is an athletic, live-bodied 6-4, who is growing into his smooth actions. He has the potential to develop tools across the board as he gets stronger and physically matures.

Munn takes a good turn at the plate and generates a tension-less swing. With increased strength on his slender frame, the bat-speed and power-with-wood should come.

Defensively, Munn has a glide in the outfield and an arm that is already major league caliber. He ran a 7.01 60 yd on a slow turf and is at least above-average as a runner.

7. Jonathan Cottrell, RHP, Niceville HS, FL R/R 6-4, 190
Cottrell has the framework of a big league pitcher. Heís polished enough to win at a high-D1 school as a freshman but also has the projectability to improve significantly in 4-5 years.

Cottrell showed mainly mid-80s in Clemson and his best pitch was a sharp low-70s curveball. He mixed the two pitches precociously and threw a lot of strikes. Cottrell also went through his delivery with impressive athleticism despite his size.

It isnít difficult to imagine him throwing at 90 MPH comfortably and that would be the missing ingredient to make him an early draft pick. But itís still about 5 MPH away.

8. Craig Pearson, LHP, Downingtown HS, PA L/L 6-5, 200
His former high school teammate Scott Tyler was the #1 prospect at last yearís Team One East Coast Showcase and signed as the first pick in the second round by the Minnesota Twins. Pearson also shows promise on the mound, but from the left side.

He was the most projectable pitcher in Clemson. Pearson throws very easily, with an athletic delivery, and the ability to repeat his slots, pitch-after-pitch. He showed a lot of mid-80s on his fastball and that will be just childís play to what he should do in 2-3 years if he stays healthy and continues to develop. Pearson has the perfect physical framework for a pitcher, reminding me of Mark Mulder around the same age.

Pearsonís curveball shows promise, but is not quite there yet. His fastball is straight, which will also need to be modified in the future.

9. Shawn McGill, C, South Kingstown HS, RI R/R 6-4, 190
McGill is the second Rhode Island player on the list behind Zach Zuercher. He showed an all-around package as a catcher that will make him an interesting follow for the draft and potentially a pick in the first ten rounds.

McGill swings a level bat with strong, line-drive producing forearms and the ability to make adjustments. With more repetitions and further development of his 6-4 body, it is possible for McGill to become a power-hitter with wood.

Defensively, he is surprisingly polished. McGill adjusts to pitches in the dirt and seems to receive the ball well. He was consistently in the 1.9-2.0 range on workout pop-times. There is definitely room for him to quicken his release.

10. Jonathan Williams, RHP, Opelika HS, AL R/R 6-3, 220
Williams is a big, strong, and intimidating presence on the mound who looks the part of a future workhorse. He also threw consistently 88-90 MPH, touching 92 at times.

At this point, Williams lacks command of his pitches and a lot might have to do with the fact that he throws so many. I saw a slider, a splitter, and a change-up. All have the makings of good pitches, but none are anywhere near refined at this point. Itís encouraging that he can learn so many different pitches, but for the long-term, he'll need to master one of them.

Williams isnít particularly loose with his arm-action, but it is workable and he has the body to absorb some of the repetitive punishment of throwing a baseball.




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