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05/24/07 8:42 PM ET

Wide array of young arms available

High school pitching class features little bit of everything

The key word when looking for college pitching -- especially the lefties -- is pitchability. In the high school ranks, the catchphrase also begins with the same letter: projectability.

Evaluating teenagers on the mound is a tall task. Scouts are asked to look at the current package and project -- there's that word -- what they might be years from now when they are bigger and stronger. Yes, there's the occasional polished high schooler and this draft class has some of those, but more often than not, the hot commodities are the tall, lanky throwers who project -- there it is again -- to add ticks to the fastball and can develop the necessary secondary stuff to succeed.

This year's high school class has a little of everything. There are some very projectable arms who'll get long looks because of arm strength, but need work on their other pitches. There are even a few polished pitchers who are wise beyond their years on the mound. And there are the few who have the complete package of plus stuff, good feel for secondary pitches and the all-important projectability. Those are the high school arms who won't have to wait long at all to come off the board on June 7.

"It's a pretty good group up high," one National League scouting director said. "Overall, it's a pretty good group, though I don't think the overall depth is as good as some years.

"Out west, it blew up a little bit with some guys. Some of the expected things out there didn't materialize. Texas is down a little bit pitching-wise. But there are some interesting guys in the Midwest. Some of them, their demands will take them right out of what their considerations might be. Then, the class that seemed like it had some depth will look [a little thin]."

Here's a look at some of the better arms coming out of the prep ranks this year.

Tim Alderson, RHP, Horizon HS, Scottsdale
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There isn't a high school pitcher in the country with better command than Alderson. He walks almost no one, allowing him to put up the most ridiculous K/BB ratios you'll ever see.

That's not to say Alderson doesn't have good stuff. He can run his fastball up to 93 mph and with his size, there might be more there. He's got a curve he can throw for strikes at any time that will be a plus pitch as well. His changeup is a little behind, mostly because he doesn't need it in high school, but with some work it, too, will be at least an average offering. He does all of this pitching only out of the stretch and with an unorthodox delivery, of which some are wary. A possible pick at the back end of the first round, he'll go to the team that values his command the most.

Phillipe Aumont, RHP, Ecole Du Versant, Quebec
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There may not be a high schooler who has risen faster up draft boards than the 6-foot-7 Canadian right-hander. Living in Quebec, he hasn't been able to throw as much as some others on this list, but with each outing, he's impressed more and more.

The positive flip side to not having pitched much, of course, is that any team taking him will get a very fresh arm. They'll also get that huge, projectable body with a fastball that was hitting 98 in his most recent outing. He's got a slider that's a plus at times and has shown some improvement with the changeup as well. Whoever takes him -- and his name is being mentioned all over the first half of the first round -- knows they'll be getting a fairly raw pitcher, but one with considerable tools to work with.

Blake Beavan, RHP, Irving HS, TX
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While the crop of Texas prep pitchers might not be as impressive as it has been in the past, that's had nothing to do with what Beavan's done in his senior season.

The big right-hander has thrown his fastball consistently as high as 96 mph this year, and he complements that with a nasty slider. He's got a changeup that he doesn't need that much at the high school level. He's been completely dominant without one. Beavan has some high-pressure experience, beating Cuba in the World Junior Championship last summer. It's that kind of poise and big-game ability, along with the stuff, that will entice a team to take him at some point in the first round.

Madison Bumgarner, LHP, South Caldwell HS, Hudson, NC
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Bumgarner may only have one pitch right now, but it's quite a pitch and it's got scouts excited. His fastball has been clocked as high as 97 mph and he's been comfortable at 93-94 mph all season. It's got good movement and he can command it pretty well. The exciting thing is with his frame, there's room for more there.

The problem is he doesn't really have another pitch. His father deserves some credit for not letting his son throw a breaking ball until he was 16, and perhaps someday the team that drafts him will be thankful for a healthier arm. It does mean, however, that his secondary stuff is way behind the fastball. He's at times shown a breaking ball and a changeup that might work in the future, but that's definitely what he'll be working on the most once he turns pro. When he goes will depend entirely on which team feels he can come up with complementary pitches to that plus fastball.

Matt Harvey, RHP, Fitch HS, CT
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It's a good year for pitching in the Northeast, and Harvey is right at the top of the group. He may have been passed up by New Jersey high schooler Rick Porcello atop draft boards, but he hasn't fallen much because of his stuff.

Harvey can throw a heavy fastball with good life when it's down in the zone that clocks as high as 94 mph. To go along with it, he's got an overhand curve that has the chance to be a plus pitch and a good feel for a changeup he often leaves in the bullpen because he doesn't need it. At 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, all of his stuff has the chance to improve with projection. The one thing he has to work on is his delivery. There's nothing really wrong mechanically, but he is sometimes too slow with the delivery, making it harder for him to repeat his mechanics. In the end, though, it could be his advisor -- Scott Boras -- that affects his draft status more than his stuff.

Michael Main, RHP, Deland HS, FL
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Main might be the most athletic pitcher in this group, and there's been some debate whether he'd be better as a pitcher or a speedy, switch-hitting outfielder.

When the time comes, however, most teams probably won't be able to look past the arm strength and will want him as a pitcher. He can dial it up to 97 mph and has done a nice job of keeping it down in the zone as the year progressed. He's got a hard breaking ball that's a slider/slurve type pitch and his changeup is improved. He's got pretty good command of his stuff as well. He might be a touch behind the high school right-handers being talked about among the first few picks, but he should hear his name called before the first round is over.

Jack McGeary, LHP, Roxbury Latin HS, MA
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Another highly touted Northeastener, McGeary is a pretty polished high school lefty. His fastball tops out at 91 mph and sits in the 88-90 mph range. He's got some room for growth and thus has some projection with the fastball. His breaking ball is his best pitch, a curve he commands very well. He's got a changeup, but like with many high school pitchers, he doesn't have to use it very often.

With some tweaking to his delivery, along with natural growth and maturation, McGeary looks like a projectable lefty, always a big commodity come draft day. Not mentioned as prominently as his neighbors in the Northeast, he still should go at some point in the late first round or sandwich round.

Jarrod Parker, RHP, Norwell HS, Ind.
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Every year, there's at least a few pitchers who fly in the face of conventional wisdom, tempting the "establishment" with tremendous stuff in a smaller package.

Undersized righties are often taboo come draft time, with concerns about durability aplenty. The same conversations are being held this year when it comes to Parker. The stuff is unquestionable: a plus fastball that he's run up to 98 mph and sits comfortably at 95, a hard curve that has a chance to be an above-average pitch and a changeup that doesn't see much game action but could be above-average as well with some work.

With the plus fastball and the ability to command it, he hasn't needed the secondary pitches quite as much, but they are there. The three-pitch mix, combined with the mound presence and makeup, spell a frontline starter in the future. The only reason, some scouts say, he's not mentioned in the same breath as Porcello (the consensus top right-handed high schooler) is his size. Some teams don't shy away from guys of his ilk and one of them could very well take him in the top half of the first round.

Rick Porcello, RHP, Seton Hall Prep, NJ
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Scouts eagerly anticipated the start of the high school season in the Northeast, waiting to see what Porcello would bring to the table in his senior season. He was lights-out in his debut and hasn't disappointed since, putting him firmly atop the prep pitching list.

Porcello has the exciting combination of stuff, secondary pitches and command all in a projectable body. His fastball hits the upper 90s and sits easily at 95 mph. He can hit spots with it and it's got some nice life to it. That alone in a lean frame with room for growth would probably be enough to make him a first-round consideration. Then throw in an above-average curve, a hard slider and a quickly improving changeup and it's easy to see why most think he'll be the top high school pitcher taken. The only thing that would preclude that from happening might be signability concerns (his advisor is Scott Boras), but that won't make him slip too far.

Josh Smoker, LHP, Calhoun HS, GA
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It's not a bad year for high-school lefties and Smoker is at or near the top of the list.

While he doesn't have the "wow" factor in terms of a plus fastball and he might not be as projectable as some on this list, there's a lot to like about the Georgia product. He throws his fastball in the 89-93 mph range and can maintain that deep into games. It's got some good movement and he usually commands it very well. He's got a curve and slider, shows a changeup at times and also throws a splitter. He goes right after hitters and looks like he could develop into a workhorse. With that assortment of stuff already and the ability to command it, it doesn't really matter how much projection he's got. He'll go to a team in the first round that likes the idea of a fairly advanced high-school southpaw.

Others to watch: Jonathan Bachanov, RHP, University HS, Orlando; Kyle Blair, RHP, Los Gatos HS, Calif.; Taylor Cole, RHP, Bishop Gorman HS, Utah; Casey Crosby, LHP, Kaneland HS, Ill.; Evan Danieli, RHP, Seton Hall Prep; Danny Duffy, LHP, Cabrillo HS, Lompoc, Calif.; Nevin Griffith, RHP, Middleton HS, FL; Brandon Hamilton, RHP, Stanhope Elmore HS; Chris Withrow, RHP, Midland Christian HS, TX

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.