FORT MYERS, FL- The 5th Annual Perfect Game World Showcase took place December 28th-30th in Fort Myers, Florida. It draws primarily top seniors and juniors from around the country, with a fair number of international free agents, junior college players, and sophomores.
I?ve been able to attend each of the last four events. In general, players are out of mid-season form and it is not practical to slot anyone in the draft based on what you see in the week between Christmas and New Year?s Day. But you do get a good idea of what these players look like and some of what they can do.
As expected, the Florida players tend to be closest to mid-season form. But this year, the #1 senior prospect is righthanded pitcher Ryan Doherty from New Jersey. The 7-2 hurler has a unique package which has never been seen at this level before.
Altogether, five of the Top-10 are from Florida.
Catching was particularly strong. Three catchers made the list with several just on the fringe of it. The 2003 group was also loaded with backstops, which is a good sign in light of the lack of high ceiling catchers in pro ball today.
The rankings and comments are my own and based primarily on their performances over the weekend. In some instances, I?ve also based on prior performances which I have witnessed and/or consulted with the outstanding talent evaluators who were present, ie. scouts and college coaches.
1. Ryan Doherty, RHP, Toms River HS, NJ 7-2, 225 R/R
No one?s seen anything like Doherty in a baseball uniform. I thought he was a project when I saw him two months before at the Perfect Game/Baseball America Tournament in Jupiter. He still is, but has made further progress.
Doherty showed 87-88 MPH consistently on his fastball, touching 90. He also showed some feel for an 82 MPH change-up. But most impressive was his control, both of his huge body and of his pitches. It seems that once he learns to exploit his leverage, he could be throwing the ball through a brick wall. Doherty quit basketball this winter to focus on baseball, which may be responsible for increasing his velocity 3-5 MPH since October.
Doherty hasn?t developed much of a breaking ball yet, but with his arm-action he appears entirely capable. He could be a guy to really rise on the draft charts before next June. He has signed with Notre Dame.
2. Adam Donachie, C, Timbercreek HS, FL 6-1, 175 R/R
Donachie seems to get better every time I see him. He has a rare amount of stationary athleticism behind the plate; soft hands and a lot of niftiness. His arm-strength is a hair below-MLB average right now, but quick feet and a short release keep his pop-times in the 1.9-2.0 range. Donachie is wiry strong and has some line-drive strength. He?s shown an ability to both catch up to good fastballs and make adjustments on off-speed.
He still needs to get stronger, but the framework is there for him to grow into. Donachie?s body is very projectable. He has signed with Central Florida.
3. Justin Gee, RHP, Sarasota HS, FL 6-3, 200 R/R
Gee has a workhorse-like body at 6-3, 200, plus big league arm-strength. He threw consistently 88-89 MPH, but what makes his fastball so impressive is its movement. Gee gets a tremendous "run" on it which has a way of missing bat-barrels. His slider also shows potential as a secondary pitch, thrown in the high-70s.
I?ve seen Gee struggle with command in the past, but recently he has been more precise with his location. There?s a little violence in his delivery, particularly his follow-through, which might throw him off-kilter at times. Gee has signed with Louisiana State.
4. Zack Greinke, C/RHP/3B, Apopka HS, FL 6-1, 185 R/R
The biggest question for Greinke is what position. I used to like him as a pro pitching prospect and an ACC third baseman (signed with Clemson). In Fort Myers, Greinke played some catcher and that is where I now feel he has the highest pro ceiling.
Greinke?s body is almost ideal for it. And he has a lot of stationary athleticism even though he lacks straight-away speed. Though he has no catching experience, he looked like he?d been doing it his whole life. Greinke?s strong arm is another asset; despite a long, pitcher-like arm-stroke, he pop-timed between 1.88-2.00 seconds in workouts.
At the plate, Greinke is an aggressive hitter who can turn on the inner-half. He has power potential with wood. On the mound, Greinke threw 90-91 MPH consistently with a promising slider. He?s just a gifted baseball-athlete.
5. Elijah Dukes, OF, Hillsborough HS, FL 6-3, 225 R/R
Dukes was only able to participate in the workouts; on Friday he was forced to drive back to Tampa for a basketball game. His arm in particular was out of baseball shape, as Dukes also played football in the fall. But his talents are obvious and he will get early-round interest in June.
Dukes still showed his tremendous power by hitting several over the fence at Lee County Stadium (Minnesota Twins spring training park). His hitting actions are outstanding; his bat was much slower than it was in the summer, but in mid-season form it?s major league quality.
Dukes also ran a 6.98 60 yd; he ran a 6.7 over the summer, despite his size. On the bases and in the field, his intensity is hard to match. Dukes has not signed with a school yet and may end up with a baseball/football deal if he qualifies academically.
6. Mark Rosen, LHP, Salisbury School, MA 5-10, 200 L/L
Rosen was undoubtedly the top lefty in Fort Myers and has early-round possibilities despite an un-projectable build. Rosen has a smooth delivery and showed consistently 88 MPH on his fastball. He has a matured approach to pitching and a good idea on how to throw a change-up. He?ll need his curveball (70-72 MPH) to come on to rise through pro ball, but the potential is there for him to learn a good one. Rosen is signed with Miami.
7. Tom Thornton, LHP, Middleboro HS, MA 6-7, 210 L/L
Thornton is quite a contrast to Mark Rosen as the "other" Massachusetts lefty on the list. He?s very tall, very lean, and very projectable. Thornton throws with a lot of looseness and it isn?t hard to imagine his 86 MPH fastball in Fort Myers turning into something much more down the road. He also showed a good feel for his 73 MPH curveball and 76 MPH change-up. There?s a lot to work with and he could really come on. Scouts will like to see better control and a more consistent delivery.
8. Robert Andino, SS, Miami Southridge HS, FL 5-10, 180 R/R
Andino is a "power" shortstop. He?s not particularly graceful, but he charges to the ball and does everything with authority. He has the tools to stay there, including the agility, big league arm, balance, and a fearless double play pivot. At the plate, Andino is equally aggressive and hits off his front foot; I wouldn?t expect him to draw a lot of walks. The ball jumps pretty good off his bat and he hits a lot of hard gappers. There isn?t much projectability, but he?s physically close to where he needs to be, anyway.
9. Adam Elliot, RHP/C, Clayton Valley HS, CA 6-1, 210 R/R
Elliot has potential as both a catcher and as a pitcher. As a hitter, Elliot has a short swing with pretty good hand-speed on the inner-half. There is some raw power and the ball jumps off his bat. Defensively, Elliot has a strong arm and the makings of a solid receiver.
As a pitcher, Elliot showed impressive stuff (87-90 MPH fastball, two-plane mid-70s curve), but really struggled with his command in Fort Myers. He has committed to UNLV.
10. Lance Broadway, RHP, Waxahachie HS, TX 6-4, 185 R/R
Broadway has projection coming out of his ears and his stuff is already effective. He threw consistently 88-89 MPH with a good downward plane on his fastball. Broadway?s curveball is a hard two-planer at 78 MPH which has the potential to become a "plus" big league pitch. At 6-4, 185, his body is just waiting to fill out; he shows athleticism in his delivery and a healthy arm-action. Broadway will need to perfect his command and to pitch more in the lower-half, but the raw material is there.