TAMPA, FL-The Florida Diamond Club (FDC) has existed in some form since 1972, with the mission of promoting baseball in the state of Florida as well as providing a weekend every fall where the stateís best players can be showcased for the scouts.
Outgoing president John Cedarburg is an area scout for the Colorado Rockies, based in Fort Myers. The new president is Joe Delli Cari, who is the East Regional Supervisor of scouting for the New York Mets.
This yearís showcase (November 7th-11th) involved six teams; North, South, West Central, East Central, Southeast, and Southwest, representing their respective areas in the state. All teams were chosen and coached by major league scouts.
Florida has always been extremely productive for high school baseball, second only to California in the annual numbers of draft picks and major league players. This year looks to be no exception as the sunshine state is loaded with prep talent.
"I think there could be over 100 draft picks from this showcase this year," said Cedarburg.
There were 120+ scouts, coaches, and agents in attendance, with most teams sending all of their Florida representatives. There were also quite a few cross-checkers and front office scouts.
In addition to the showcase, there were several social gatherings for the scouts including a golf scramble and a banquet. It is certainly a time that the scouts enjoy meeting with their brethren as well as seeing the stateís best prospects.
Though Iíd seen every player who made the Top-10 several times prior to this weekend, there were still quite a few very draftable prospects whom Iíd never heard of until now. It is a testament to the depth of baseball talent in the state that such caliber of players can emerge out of nowhere and there will surely be more draftable talents who appear by next June.
John Cedarburg and myself agreed that most of the known Floridian pro prospects were at USF, but there were some exceptions. Tampa outfielders Denard Span and Elijah Dukes were with their respective high school football teams in the state playoffs, but surely would have cracked the Top-10 had they been present. There were several other players who would have been strong candidates. Still, I find it a difficult Top-10 to make out.
After an off-year in 2000, the Miami Shortstop Machine seems to be back in gear. Three Miami shortstops and one from Fort Lauderdale are ranked in the Top-10. It also appears to be a strong year for pure hitters in the state, and two make this list based primarily on their slugging capabilities.
But the number one spot is reserved for 6-8 righty Christian Madson, who has a ceiling beyond them all.
Only draft-eligible players for 2002 were considered for this list, which is based primarily on my opinion. It is weighed towards their showings during the FDC Showcase, with some ammends made for previous performance:
1. Christian Madson, RHP, Bloomingdale HS R/R 6-8, 245
Madson has a big guyís body with the smooth, breaking ball-friendly arm-action of a little guy. Heís made tremendous strides over the last year, to the point where he is becoming a first-round candidate with as high a ceiling as any pitcher in the country. He throws comfortably around 90 MPH, but also has the makings of a slider, curveball, split-finger, and change-up. Itís rare to see a pitcher who can spin a ball that many ways, much less one so big. He was the #3 pitcher on his high school staff last spring, but look for that to change quickly. Madson has verbally committed to Florida.
2. Steve Doetsch, OF, Dunedin HS R/R 6-2, 190
Doetsch is the best run-and-throw outfielder in the country, bar none. Georgiaís Jeff Francoeur is the only one in his ballpark. His arm, always strong, now grades a 70 on the 20-80 scale, which puts it above all but maybe five or six major league rightfielders. I donít ever recall seeing a stronger outfield arm in high school, and he ran a 6.6 60 yd to boot. Doetsch tracks fly balls well and can swing the bat with pop. He shows signs of becoming a middle-of-the-order hitter if he can get looser and quicker with his hands.
3. Adam Donachie, C, Timber Creek HS R/R 6-2, 175
Donachie has long impressed with his athleticism behind the plate. He receives the ball and reacts well, and can get up quickly to throw to second. And heís always been a smart hitter, knowing how to cover the plate and use the whole field. At USF, Donachie showed that he was growing into his actions and was driving the ball with much more authority. His bat-speed is picking up and his hitting actions are looking like a big leaguerís. He should now rank among the best catchers in the country, if he didnít already. Donachie has committed verbally to Central Florida.
4. Prince Fielder, 1B, Eau Gallie HS L/R 6-0, 240
Fielderís power is legendary by high school standards, and he put on his usual show during batting practice. Fielder, like his father Cecil, simply makes a baseball field look small when heís slugging away. Scouts were also impressed with the improved conditioning of his body as he has worked hard to drop weight; this is by far the best heís looked physically. Fielder ran a respectable 7.1 60 yd and showed enough nimbleness to become adequate defensively at first base. Heíll strike out his share now, but is capable of making more consistent contact if he were to get a little less pull-happy. Brian Dopirak, who just missed this list, may be the only high school player in the country who has comparable raw power.
5. Justin Gee, RHP, Sarasota HS R/R 6-3, 200
Gee is a big, strong presence on the mound, and has been throwing 88-92 MPH for some time. At USF, he showed improved control and a lot more running/sinking movement on his fastball. His off-speed pitches are still developing, but with his arm-action they should come along. His fastball showed so much movement, he had to start it inside to get it over the outer part of the plate. Gee is moving himself into early-round consideration.
6. Matt Whitney, 3B, Palm Beach Gardens HS R/R 6-4, 195
Whitney showed the best bat-speed in the showcase, slightly faster than Prince Fielderís. From the right side, Whitney attacks the ball and is very aggressive. Like Fielder, heíll get his share of strikeouts, but will drive in runs. Whitney is still very lanky at 6-4, and scouts are eager to see how hard his line drives will be when he actually matures. He runs okay, but doesnít have a lot of defensive athleticism for the infield. Third base and left field are possibilities, but his future may be at first. Whitney has verbally committed to Clemson.
7. Tyler Greene, SS, St. Thomas Aquinas HS R/R 6-3, 183
South Florida is loaded with potential early-round shortstops and Greene is the most in demand. He runs very well (6.6 60 yd) and has exceptional body control of a 6-3 frame. He has agility for shortstop, and a short-triggered throwing arm that works well from the hole, though he does kick an occasional routine grounder. The other question with Greene from pro scouts is whether he will hit with wood when his upper body develops. For now, Greene is a poke-hitter and with his speed, he can get by with it. He has verbally committed to Georgia Tech.
8. Marcos Cabral, 2B/SS, Southwest Miami HS R/R 5-11, 170
Cabral is a very athletic middle infielder, with smooth actions on both sides of the field. He was swinging the bat with surprising line-drive pop, despite his relative lack of size. Cabral is just an average runner, but much more agile moving laterally while playing the infield. He has the arm to at least warrant consideration as a pro shortstop.
9. Alexy Hernandez, SS/2B/OF, Miami Pace HS R/R 5-11, 170
Like Cabral, Hernandez is also a very fluid athlete and I still consider him a sleeper for the draft. His raw tools grade out very high, but his on-field production hasnít caught up. Itís starting to catch up now, as Hernandez is showing a lot more aggressiveness at the plate and in the field. He has the defensive tools to become a very solid shortstop or centerfielder and scouts are divided as to where his future is. His hitting actions are as smooth as anyoneís. There is still a higher ceiling for him to reach. Hernandez has committed verbally to Miami.
10. Robert Andino, SS, Miami Southridge HS R/R 5-11, 180
Of all the blue-chip shortstops at the FDC Showcase, Andino may have been blessed with the best glove. His arm may only be second to Virginiaís B.J. Upton in the country, and he also has plenty of hands and range for shortstop. At the plate, Andino is aggressive and takes a big kick in his stride before his swing. Heíll swing and miss a lot, especially on good curveballs, but can hit the ball with authority when heís on. Andinoís defensive tools will definitely allow patience with his bat.