June 7, 2007
Major League Baseball will hold its annual amateur draft starting today and – for the first time – part of the draft will be telecast, as ESPN2 will broadcast the first round (set to run on Thursday from 2:00 p.m. eastern to approximately 4:30). Extensive coverage (including live video and audio) then will continued on www.mlb.com, with plenty of analysis also available via websites such as baseballamerica.com and perfectgame.org. The two-day draft will continue into late Friday night, with as many as 50 rounds of selections.
Joey Williamson’s strong 2007 season has him in position to be the first player from Notre Dame’s 2007 team to be selected in the 2007 Major League draft.
Several Notre Dame players and signees could be selected during the 2007 draft – but Irish fans should be reminded that top prospects who have signed with Notre Dame traditionally have dropped down in the draft (or not been drafted at all) due to “signability” concerns, because of their strong commitment to join the Notre Dame program. Notre Dame enters draft day as one of just four schools in the nation (North Carolina, Oregon State and Georgia Tech are the others) that have two pitcher signees who are rated by Perfect Game among the top-55 high school prospects for the 2007 draft, as 6-foot-8 Evan Danieli is ranked 40th on that list (updated on June 6) while fellow northeast native and righthander Brian Dupra has to surged 55th.
(Note: check back to und.com throughout the next few days for various baseball updates, including: the annual listing of ND players active in summer baseball leagues, plus the Summer Baseball Diary schedule; an update of former ND players currently active in pro baseball; revised info. on all of the ND signees, including their 2007 stats and honors; and a release with updated bio. capsule on third baseman A.J. Pollock, who yesterday was named a Freshman All-American … also note that complete info. on the 10 players who signed with Notre Dame last November can be found at: http://und.cstv.com/sports/m-basebl/spec-rel/111406aag.html).
In addition to having several signees as 2007 draft prospects, Notre Dame also could see multiple players from its 2007 team selected by Major League teams – most notably righthanded pitchers Joey Williamson and Dan Kapala, who each have made key strides under the tutelage of first-year pitching coach Sherard Clinkscales and both have a year of eligibility remaining. Williamson’s strong 2007 season recently boosted him up the draft boards for the state of Indiana (covering all college and prep players in the state), as Baseball America rated Williamson as the #5 prospect in the state behind four high school players (Perfect Game lists him as Indiana’s #13 overall prospect and 5th among college players). Kapala is #16 overall on the BA prospect list for Indiana (8th among collegians) while PG has Kapala in a similar slot (#15 overall/#8 among college players).
Perfect Game also rated Notre Dame senior catcher Sean Gaston as the 20th-best prospect in Indiana (10th among college players), despite the fact that Gaston missed the 2007 season due to shoulder surgery. A recent change in the draft rules requires that players sign by Aug. 15 or the drafting team will lose rights to the players – altering the situation for Gaston, who plans to return for a fifth year of eligibility in 2008. Under the old regulations, Gaston could have been selected in the 2007 draft, played in the 2008 college season and still signed with the team that drafted him in ’07 (as long as the signing took place before the next draft).
Note that additional information on Williamson and Kapala – including updated bio. capsules and quotes – will be posted later on und.com, following their potential selection in the 2007 draft.
In an earlier draft projection (May 9) for all eligible players – including collegians – Perfect Game listed Dupra as the 162nd overall prospect for the 2007 draft. Baseball America has echoed Perfect Game’s lofty status for the pair of signees, as BA’s recent draft projection (May 22) lists Dupra 116th and Danieli 157th (among all high school and college draft-eligible players).
The 6-foot-8 Evan Danieli has been named an Aflac All-American in each of the past two seasons and would form one of the nation’s top freshman pitching duos alongside Brian Dupray, as members of the 2008 Notre Dame baseball team.
Each of the 10 of the players who signed with the Notre Dame baseball program in the fall of 2006 remain on the Perfect Game and Baseball America top prospects list, as does two-sport talent Golden Tate – a football signee with the Irish who has indicated his intention to also play with the Irish baseball team as a centerfielder. Notre Dame also recently added a signee in the spring period (look for release later today on und.com), yielding a class of 12 total players that likely will rank among the best in the nation.
Jerry Ford – founder of the Perfect Game showcases and one of the nation’s most respected talent evaluators – passed along the following comments about Notre Dame’s impressive signee class, prior to the addition of Tate and the spring signee:
“Notre Dame’s group of fall signees was a huge success and has the makings of ranking among the top-10 classes in the nation,” says Ford. “Top-ranked players from coast-to-coast and some outstanding pitching prospects have signed to play for the Irish. This is a very solid class from a talent standpoint but one of the most impressive things is the high likelihood that all 10 will end up in school, as the Irish signees have indicated a strong preference for playing baseball at Notre Dame. They have addressed a lot of the team’s needs for 2008 and beyond, with the chance to have three pitchers who will emerge as high-round picks when they become eligible for the draft as college juniors.
“Overall, this class has the normal Dave Schrage theme with very strong pitching, good defensive catchers, strong middle infielders and potential middle-of-the-order power hitters,” adds Ford. “The Notre Dame staff went out and signed four of the top-ranked recruits in the country and a few real gems that others might have overlooked. That is normal stuff for Schrage, as over the years he has recruited and coached a large number of relative unknowns who went on to have successful professional careers.”
If Danieli, Dupra – and even fellow righthanded pitcher Ryan Sharpley (the #141 prep prospect, per Perfect Game) or shortstop Greg Sherry (#200) – drop below those projections due to their strong commitments to Notre Dame, they will join an impressive list of previous Notre Dame signees who could have been high-round draft picks coming out of high school but slid down the list due to their strong desires to join the Irish. In the 2001 draft, Notre Dame signees Grant Johnson and Matt Macri both were projected to be first- or second-round talents – but Johnson ended up not even being drafted while the Minnesota Twins took a flyer at Macri by making him their 17th-round pick. Both players honored their commitments and went on to have stellar college careers before being some of the highest-drafted college players in 2004, as the righthanded pitcher Johnson was picked by the Chicago Cubs in the second round while the third baseman Macri went to the Colorado Rockies in the fifth.
Two years later, pitcher Jeff Manship was rated as high as 13th among the nation’s top prep prospects but his strong commitment to Notre Dame caused all teams to not risk a pick until the 50th and final round (when the Arizona Diamondbacks selected Manship with a token pick). Manship went on to be drafted by Minnesota following the 2006 season and has quickly progressed through the Twins minor-league system.
Dupra enters the 2007 draft as the 14th pure pitcher (excluding multiple-position players) on the Perfect Game list of top high school prospects while Dupra is the 19th pitcher on that list. In addition to Danieli and Dupra, Sharpley (another RHP, who also is a solid infielder and hitter) has been rated by Perfect Game as the nation’s #141 overall prospect while the slick-fielding shortstop Sherry is PG’s #200 overall prospect for the 2007 draft (he impressively is rated 7th-highest among pure shortstop on the PG list). Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.) – brother of current Notre Dame football quarterback/baseball first baseman Evan Sharpley – is rated by PG as the 5th-best prospect in Michigan (#3 among preps in the state) while Baseball America has Sharpley as the #6 overall prospect in his state (also #3 among Michigan preps). Sherry (Mendham, N.J.) is slotted by PG as the #23 overall prospect in New Jersey (#15 among prep players) while BA has Sherry projected a bit higher within his state (15th overall and 10th among high school players).
Dupra (Rochester, N.Y.) has emerged as the consensus top prospect in New York – among college or high school players – while PG and BA both rate Danieli (East Hanover, N.J.) as the #4 overall prospect in the state of New Jersey. Danieli’s teammate at Seton Hall Prep, fellow RHP Rick Porcello, is the state’s top-rated prospect and could be one of the top overall picks in the 2007 draft. Rutgers shortstop Todd Frazier and Saint Rose High School RHP Anthony Ranaudo are the respective #2 and #3 prospects in the state of New Jersey (per both PG and BA).
Notre Dame others six signees from the fall include three catchers – Cameron McConnell (Bannockburn, Ill.), Matt Scioscia (Westlake Village, Calif.) and Matt Katich (New Castle, Pa.) – plus power-hitting LF/1B Ty Adams (Indianapolis), another heavy hitter in 1B/LHP David Casey (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) and standout shortstop Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.). Scioscia recently joined Danieli in being named to the Aflac High School All-America Team while Dupra was named to Gatorade Player of the Year for the State of New York (various other national awards still are to be announced).
Casey is rated by PG as the nation’s #532 prospect – still a noteworthy feat considering the thousands of high schools that sponsor baseball across the country (plus the fact that there are nearly 300 D-I programs, with the Irish having four signees among the top-200 prep prospects, plus five others in the top-1,000 and two others in the top 1,150). Perfect Game rates Casey as the nation’ #532 prep prospect and 7th overall in the state of Wisconsin (3rd among prep players) while BA lists Casey as the 10th-best overall prospect in his state (5th among Wisconsin high school players). Despite being primarily a football defensive back, Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) is rated by Perfect Game among the top-600 prep prospects for the 2007 draft (#593). PG also has McConnell 646th on that list while BA lists the catcher as the #34 overall prospect in the state of Illinois (16th among prep players).
Katich is #757 on the Perfect Game rankings of top high school prospects, with Adams one spot behind him. PG also has Adams tabbed as the #19 overall prospect in the state of Indiana (8th among HS players) while BE similarly placed Adams as Indiana’s #17 prospect (#8 among preps). Rounding out the Notre Dame signees on the Perfect Game top prospects list are Scioscia (1,031) – the son of Anaheim Angels manager Mike Scioscia – and Doyle (1,135).
Excerpts of comments from Perfect Game, Baseball America and MLB.com about the Notre Dame signees (plus Williamson, Kapala and Gaston) follow below:
â€¢ Evan Danieli (RHP; 6-8/225; East Hanover, NJ/Seton Hall Prep) – Jerry Ford (PG): “Evan Danieli ranks as one of the top pitching prospects in America. He repeats his delivery well, features a 90-plus fastball and what sets him apart from others is his breaking ball and ability to pitch. He’s a prized recruit. … PG Scouting Report (June ’07): “Repeats delivery well for 6’8”, very good breaking ball and low-90s fastball. Danieli has shown better present stuff than Ranaudo, with a fastball that can sit at 92-93 mph. Danieli’s curveball can be a plus pitch at times and his downhill angle to the plate just makes it more effective. His changeup has really come on this spring and is now a very effective offspeed pitch he can use often if he needs it. Danieli is very young for a high school senior and would look even better if lumped with his agemates in the 2008 class. The major issue with Danieli and the draft is signability; he has a large scholarship to Notre Dame and is a very academically-inclined student from an educated family.” … BA Scouting Report (May ’07): “An avid chess player, Danieli won his 8th-grade chess championship. He’s been up to 93 mph [fastball] but at times this season has pitched closer to 88. His low-80s slider can be a legitimate weapon. The ingredients are all there with Danieli, but he’s considered a tough sign and with all likelihood will honor his commitment to Notre Dame.” … MLB.com (June ’07): “The big lanky righthander has lots of projection. Three years of college tutelage might do him some good. He’s a very good competitor with terrific poise on the mound.” … PG Crosschecker Reports (summer ’06): “[Danieli] does two things teenage 6-8 pitchers rarely do: repeat his delivery well and throw a tight, late-breaking, well-controlled curveball. Throws plenty hard enough, too, with a fastball that is very consistently 90-92 mph and will touch 94. Curveball is hard, too, at 77 mph. Takes advantage of his height with good downward angle to the plate and good extension out front. Danieli is extra interesting. He has that certain big-league look about him. Danieli has about as good a downhill angle as you can get on pitches and his 90-93 mph fastball is heavy on top of that. The talent is obvious and he’s hard to hit even when not completely sharp. Danieli has as much upside as any pitching prospect in the nation. He pitches from an over the top slot and has a loose arm. His arm stroke is pretty short on the back side and he has a good arm action, with good arm speed, unlike many young pitchers with his height and body mass. Most impressive was Danieli’s ability to repeat his delivery. He got downhill so easily with all his stuff. It looks as though he is capable of throwing in the 94-96 range someday. Danieli’s best pitch is his tight, deep, and big 71-77 mph 12/6ish curveball. He threw it for strikes in the bottom of the zone and showed exceptional feel for that pitch. It is a legitimate out pitch that will only get better in time.”
â€¢ Brian Dupra (RHP; 6-3/195; Rochester, NY/Greece Athena HS) – Jerry Ford (PG): “Brian Dupra has no problem throwing 93-94 and he projects to be a steady mid-90s pitcher or better. He will have an immediate impact on the Irish program.” … PG Scouting Report (June ’07): “Big power arm, 93 mph at PG National. There is even more in him. Dupra has nicely filled out his 6-foot-4 frame and gotten stronger, and came out of the gates throwing a heavy 91-93 mph fastball, touching 95–an upgrade from 88-91 a year ago. His fastball became an especially effective pitch when he kept it down in the strike zone consistently. He also showed the ability to hold his velocity deeper into games. A slurvy breaking ball has evolved more into a true curveball; his feel for a changeup is improved. Dupra overpowered upstate New York high school hitters when all three pitches were working. Dupra’s pitches come from a power arm slot. He has a high price with Notre Dame as leverage, and he could slide in the draft if teams determine he’s unsignable in the round his talent warrants.” … BA Scouting Report (May ’07): “Dupra’s stock has climbed with his velocity this spring. With a projectable 6-foot-3 frame and a live arm, Dupra is a good competitor who figured to add velocity to a fastball that was 88-92 mph earlier this spring. He came on later in the season, sitting in the low 90s with his fastball and running it up to 95, and flashing a breaking ball with potential. Signability is a huge question mark, as Dupra is committed to Notre Dame.” … PG Crosschecker Report (summer ’06): “Good pitcher’s build. Slurve type breaking ball has some sharpness. Still a thrower, but with a very good arm. He looks like a power pitcher. Dupra pitches from a high 3/4 slot with a long, clean, circular arm action on the back side. His arm works easily and he creates good arm speed. His mechanics are nice and fluid, with good balance and direction to the plate. Dupra gets good extension on the front side, giving his fastball a bit of late hop in the zone that can sneak by hitters.”
â€¢ Ryan Sharpley (RHP/IF; 6-4/185; Marshall, MI/Marshall HS) – Jerry Ford (PG): “Ryan Sharpley features a low-90s fastball and projects off the charts. Danieli, Dupra and Sharpley give the Irish three pitchers all capable of being first-round picks in the future.” … PG Scouting Report (June ’07): “Extremely projectable. Sharpley has the talent and physical profile to go in the first five to 10 rounds. Sharpley has a very projectable arm and body, however, and could realistically surface in three years as a top-round pick. His fastball was as high as 92-93 mph this spring with good arm-side tail. He has two solid secondary pitches, a slider with good, tight rotation and a high-70s changeup.”
â€¢ Greg Sherry (SS; 5-11/180; Mendham, NJ/Delbarton HS) – Jerry Ford (PG): “Greg Sherry is an outstanding middle infielder who brings a very strong overall game and could have a quick impact on Notre Dame program.” … PG Scouting Report (June ’07): “Very talented middle infielder, really coming on with the bat. Sherry is a prototypical college-type shortstop who could be a potential top 10 round pick after three years of college. He does everything well and is a surehanded defender at shortstop. Sherry has signed with Notre Dame and should contribute immediately at that program.” … PG Crosschecker Reports (summer ’06): “Sherry opened a lot of eyes and seemed to be in the middle of a lot of action at PG National. He plays with a high motor and looked to be the kind of player that will positively impact a game, in some way. At the plate he hits from a square stance and was very competitive in each at-bat. Sherry’s swing got a lot shorter in the games and he showed better bat speed. With a barrel that stayed in the zone well, he was able to let the ball travel and spray the ball around the yard. He showed himself to be a good linedrive contact type hitter, the kind of hitter that helps make an offense go. In the field he was a playmaker. Sherry is a toughnosed ballplayer and is willing to stick his nose in there to make or finish the play, a true gamer type, but with ability. His quick arm is above average in terms of raw arm strength. His hands are good and he has feel for the game. Not only is he a grinder on defense, he was also pretty slick at times and was good on both sides of the bag, either starting or turning the double play. Look for him to have an outstanding D1 college career and then earn an opportunity to play pro baseball. Sherry has good defensive actions with nice athletic movements. He has active feet and moves to the ball well on the infield. He has quick hands with a quick transfer and release. Sherry has good arm strength with solid carry on his throws. He takes a hard stride and takes a good aggressive hack. Sherry maintains good balance through his swing and has quick hands. He has some length to his swing and has bat speed. Sherry gets good extension in his swing and has present gap-to-gap power. Sherry is an excellent student.”
â€¢ David Casey (1B/LHP; 6-4/225; Whitefish Bay, WI/Whitefish Bay HS) – Jerry Ford (PG): “Casey has monster potential with the bat and could easily come into his own and start breaking Irish power hitting records. He also has a chance to be a quality lefthanded pitcher.” … PG Scouting Report (June ’07): “Casey is a big, strong lefthanded hitter with plus-plus power potential. He’s a pretty good athlete for his size and has a strong arm. He has enjoyed success on the mound as well with a fastball that is in the mid-80s. Casey could have the ability to shorten up his swing. He’ll get that chance at Notre Dame next year.”
â€¢ Golden Tate (OF; 6-1/180; Hendersonville, TN/Pope John Paul HS) – PG Scouting Report (June ’07): “Interesting athlete, could come on.”
â€¢ Cameron McConnell (C; 6-2/190; Bannockburn, IL/Deerfield HS) – Jerry Ford (PG): “McConnell will bring top-level catching tools and a big-time arm to Notre Dame. He is perhaps the top defensive catcher in the entire Midwest and a great find for the Irish.” … PG Scouting Report (June ’07): “Top level defensive catcher with a `hose’ and can hit.”
â€¢ Matt Katich (C; 6-2/205; New Castle, PA/Mohawk HS) – Jerry Ford (PG): “Katich is an excellent catch-and-throw guy who can hit. He and McConnell two give the Irish two outstanding defensive catchers for years to come.” … PG Scouting Report (June ’07): “Very good defensive catcher with a strong arm.”
â€¢ Ty Adams (LF/1B; 6-7/230; Indianapolis, IN/Brebeuf Jesuit HS) – Jerry Ford (PG): “Adams is a very big, strong hitter with upper-deck type power potential. He should be fun to watch develop.” … PG Scouting Report (June ’07): “Big strong guy with juice in the bat. Adams was recruited as heavily for his basketball ability as a power forward as he was for his power-hitting skills in baseball. He’s a 6.9 runner in the 60 who has played some outfield as well as first base, and is an outstanding overall athlete. He has huge power potential and has shown some aptitude with the bat.”
â€¢ Matt Scioscia (C/1B/DH; 6-2/235; Westlake Village, CA/Encino Crespi HS) – Jerry Ford (PG): “Scioscia has the obvious bloodlines and talent to become one of the nation’s top hitters. The big, strong catcher could provide a lot of future power to the Notre Dame lineup and could provide a middle-of-the-order bat.” … PG Scouting Report (June ’07): “Big catcher with bloodlines. Bat stands out.”
â€¢ Mick Doyle (IF (SS); 6-1/185; LaGrange Park, IL/Benet Academy) – Jerry Ford (PG): “Doyle is an excellent all-around middle infielder who does everything very well. Irish fans will love to watch Sherry and Doyle playing up the middle.” … PG Scouting Report (June ’07): “Can hit and play, injured this fall.”
â€¢ Joey Williamson (RHP; Jr,; 6-1/195; Lantana, FL/Santaluces HS) – PG Scouting Report (June ’07): “Williamson has significantly improved his mechanics and calmed his delivery and emerged as a solid middle-round draft prospect. The big difference has been his command. Williamson walked only 16 hitters in 51 innings while going 4-3, 2.81 with two saves, and has shown that he can mix up his pitches and hit spots. He may even be tried in a starter’s role at the next level.” … BA Scouting Report (May ’07): “He’s probably limited to being a reliever in pro ball, but he holds the velocity on his 89-92 mph fastball and maintains a sharp slider. He looks like an 8th-10th-rounder.”
â€¢ Dan Kapala (RHP; Sr,; 6-4/215; Royal Oak, MI/Shrine Catholic HS) – PG Scouting Report (June ’07): “Kapala went 7-3, 3.20 in 2005 and threw in the 91-93 mph range, topping at 95 as a sophomore. Kapala underwent labrum surgery in the fall of 2005 before coming back this year. His delivery is somewhat smoother, with more lower half involvement and less of a slinging action, but his stuff is also a tick down at 88-90 most of the time.” … BA Scouting Report (May ’07): “Kapala hit 95 mph in the Cape Cod League in 2005 but he tore his labrum in the final start that summer. He threw in the high 80s from a lower arm slot this year.”
â€¢ Sean Gaston (C; Sr,; 6-0/190; Brownsburg, IN/Brownsburg HS) – PG Scouting Report (June ’07): “Gaston would have been a strong senior-sign but underwent [shoulder] surgery and missed the entire season. He is an excellent defensive catcher and a lefthanded hitter with good bat control and the ability to move the ball around the field. Gaston is planning on returning to Notre Dame as a fifth-year senior. The change in draft rules means that a team drafting him [in 2007] would not retain his rights. … BA Scouting Report (May ’07): “Gaston has had two straight productive summers in the Cape Cod League. As a lefthanded-hitting catcher with a decent bat and solid defensive skills, he would have been a nice senior sign. But he missed the entire season after having [shoulder] surgery.”