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05/23/07 2:03 PM ET
Vitters projecting to be top draw at draft
Sweet-swinging third baseman won't fall far from top spot
By Jayson Addcox / MLB.com
A veteran scout said he had never seen anyone hit like him before, bloggers have been comparing him to Alex Rodriguez, and MLB.com projects he'll be among the first five players selected in next month's draft. Cypress High School senior Josh Vitters hasn't let all the talk and hype get to his head, though. Part of the reason is because he hasn't had any time to worry about what everyone is saying about him. "I'm just a high school kid, you know," Vitters said. "I'm just playing ball and trying to help my team win in the playoffs." Besides playing ball and helping his team win, Vitters has had other things to worry about. At the start of the season the right-handed-hitting third baseman had a bout with pneumonia that slowed him down for about a month. Before that, he was deciding what college to attend (finally deciding on Arizona State), and now his team is in the Southern Section Division II playoffs. "The pneumonia was a big setback because I had to gain my weight and my strength back," Vitters said. "The worst part, though, was watching the team play and not being able to be out there with them." Vitters showcased his outstanding plate discipline and sweet hitting stroke in the 2006 Aflac All-American Classic this past summer, going 3-for-4 with three doubles. Vitters, who is 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, doubled off of Michael Main, Madison Bumgarner and Rick Porcello -- all pitchers who are projected to be drafted in the first round in June. He also participated in the Area Code games in Long Beach, Calif., and the Cape Cod Classic in Wareham, Mass. "It was a great experience playing in those tournaments," Vitters said. "I like to play against the top talent; in fact, I feel like I do better against the top players." Vitters hit .352 with nine home runs and 32 RBIs his junior year, and this season, he is hitting .402 with nine homers and 31 RBIs. According to Cypress High's head baseball coach, John Weber, what makes Vitters so superior are his hands. "He by far has the quickest hands I have ever seen," Weber said. "I've coached some players who made it to the bigs, and Josh's hands are by far the most amazing I've seen." The 17-year-old Vitters is a polished hitter who combines raw talent with a strong quick stroke, according to a scouting report in Baseball America. At this point, he is more of a line-drive hitter but has shown power to all fields in his high school career. "I think physically, he has all the right attributes," Weber said. "And mentally, he's got the right attitude. He's a happy-go-lucky type of guy; it doesn't matter if he's 0-for-20 or 20-for-20, he doesn't change his approach." If there is a question mark, it is his defense, where he has struggled at times making plays to his left. According to Baseball America, he has a strong arm and good enough physical ability to move to left field if necessary. "I'm working on my agility, doing things like jumping rope to make myself quicker defensively," Vitters said. Ultimately, Vitters prides himself on working hard and performing in the clutch. "I think my strongest attribute is that I'm a clutch player," he said. "I think I do well under pressure."
Jayson Addcox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.