December 31, 2001

Perfect Game World Showcase Top-10 Juniors

FORT MYERS, FL- There was quite a collection of 2003-graduating talent at the Perfect Game World Showcase as well. These players are naturally much further away than the seniors, but they are names to watch for the 2003 draft:

1. Lastings Milledge, OF, Northside Christian HS, FL 6-1, 185 R/R
Milledge is a pure hitter with tremendous bat-speed and tools across the board. Milledge ran a 6.62 60 yd and showed both major league range and arm from the outfield. Iím hard-pressed to think of an outfielder of his caliber at the same age; current pros Josh Hamilton and Corey Patterson come the closest when they were high school juniors.

2. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Royal Palm Beach HS, FL 6-4, 190 S/R
Saltalamacchia has an impressive but raw package for behind the plate. He has a big league arm right now, but needs to improve his launch and footwork on his throws. Despite a lack of catching experience, Saltalamacchia has a natural ability to make adjustments to balls thrown in the dirt and very soft hands. There is also a lot of power potential from both sides of the plate and developing bat-speed.

3. Robert Valido, SS, Coral Park HS, FL 6-0, 180 R/R
Valido struggled to make adjustments at the plate during the games, but his tools and athleticism spoke loudly in workouts. Valido is very smooth at shortstop, with both the agility and arm-strength that scouts look for. He can also generate a fair amount of bat-speed and his hitting actions promise more pop as he matures. Valido ran a 6.93 60 yd.

4. Scott Leffler, C, Northside Christian HS, FL 6-1, 175 R/R
Leffler is as refined a defensive catcher as Iíve seen at his age, comparable to Scott Heard who was a first-round pick of the Rangers in 2000, and Orlando senior Adam Donachie. He makes adjustments as a receiver and has both quick feet and a short release as a thrower. Leffler pop-timed between 1.79-1.93 seconds in workouts, which is quite remarkable this time of year. His bat is not as refined, but he shows a loose, easy swing, which he can grow into. The ball comes off his bat a little already.

5. Sean Rodriguez, SS/OF, Coral Park HS, FL 6-0, 175 R/R
Everything except his straight-away speed (7.25 60 yd) is potentially above-average at maturity. Rodriguez is a fluid athlete with very good balance defensively at shortstop. He also shows a strong arm which is even stronger throwing from the outfield. Iím not sure where I like him more; despite his lack of speed, his defensive agility is very impressive and he gets good jumps in center. Heís a guy you might want to throw away the stopwatch with. Rodriguez is an aggressive hitter who can put a charge into the ball. His bat will only get better as he physically matures; he already has bat-speed approaching MLB-average.

6. Xavier Paul, OF/RHP, Slidell HS, LA 5-10, 200 L/L
Paul has a rightfielderís arm and an 89-91 MPH fastball off the mound already. He shows potential as a two-way threat. Paul needs to perfect his command and his off-speed to become an effective D1 pitcher, but his arm-action should work for one. Because of his body, pro scouts will probably lean to him as an outfielder. Thereís a little juice in his bat and Paul ran a 6.97 60 yd. He might make an interesting catching prospect if he were to try on the "tools of ignorance". Projectability is a question mark.

7. Dave Cash, SS, Sickles HS, FL 6-2, 170 S/R
Cash showed an aggressive batting style as well as a fair amount of defensive actions for the infield. As a switch-hitter, he might be a little shorter and quicker from the right side, but makes adjustments and is a pesky out both ways; he could develop more power as he matures a slender, but projectable frame. Defensively, Cash has plenty of range and arm for second or third base, but might be just a few fast twitches shy of shortstop. He ran a 6.99 60 yd and is the son of the long-time major leaguer by the same name.

8. Chris Lubanski, OF, Kennedy-Kenrick HS, PA 6-3, 180 L/L
Heís an even 6-3, with a smooth lefthanded lift-swing and 6.65 speed in the 60 yard-dash. Thatíll get attention fast and it remains to be seen how much of a power/speed package Lubanski will develop as he physically matures. Thereís a lot to grow into. His arm is a liability right now and will need to improve to make the outfield a possibility in pro ball.

9. Andy DíAlessio, 1B/3B, Barron Collier HS, FL 6-3, 195 L/R
DíAlessio isnít particularly fluid or smooth with anything, but he plays hard and attacks the ball from the left side. DíAlessio has a lock-and-load approach and turns hard on the inner-half. Heís a gap-hitter for now who will develop wood power as he physically matures. Defensively, there isnít much for tools, but he has good hands and plays aggressively. First base could be his destination at the next level.

10. Chris Fournier, 3B, Fairfield HS, CT 6-1, 185 R/R
Fournier and Lastings Milledge had the best bat-speed in Fort Myers, including the seniors. Fournier has lighting hips and can generate a lot of juice from the right side. The ball jumps off his bat and heís going to make a lot of third basemen sorry for playing in. His 7.93 60 yd will scare off a lot of scouts, but I think he could handle first or third base with some work. Fournier has major league hands and adequate actions, but not much of a throwing arm. With that kind of a bat, though, he deserves patience and to be found a position.



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