02/27/08 10:00 AM ET
Draft Report: 2008 has different look
NCAA's late start has scouts scoping high schools and JCs
By Jonathan Mayo / MLB.com
The beginning of the 2008 Draft season has looked a little different than those in years past.
The big reason for that was the NCAA's decision to move the start of the college season to later in Florida, ostensibly to make it a more even playing field for schools in the Northeast who can't get started that early because of weather. As a result of the late start, it's enabled scouts to see more high school and junior college players -- particularly the latter -- than they may have in the past.
That could bode well for some JUCO players who impressed scouts in these early viewings and put themselves on the map, ensuring they get later looks as well. Because of this twist, this week's Draft Report has a few junior college hopefuls on the list. There will likely be more to come, along with a slew of four-year college reports as their season opened last weekend.
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
Pitt Community College, Winterville, NC
A pretty good prospect in high school, Chisenhall chose the University of South Carolina instead of the pro game. That didn't last long, however, as he was dismissed from the team after being charged with burglary and grand larceny. He's landed in junior college and is still swinging the same stick that got him noticed back in high school. Complete Report
Video: Lonnie Chisenhall
Brett DeVall, LHP
Niceville High School, Niceville, Fla.
One of the top southpaws in the high school Draft class, DeVall transferred from Rutherford High School for his senior season. Scouts now get the chance to get two for the price of one when they see Niceville, getting DeVall and right-hander Austin Wood (see below). Complete Report
Video: Brett DeVall
Anthony Ferrara, LHP
Riverview High School, Riverview, Fla.
Ferrara has a ways to go to prove that he's healthy -- a weakened shoulder shut him down last spring -- but if he does, he has the opportunity to climb back up the Draft charts as one of the better lefties in the prep class. When he's 100 percent, he's got electric stuff with an above-average fastball and curve. In his first start of the year, he was overshadowed by a very strong performance from Sarasota's Casey Kelly. Complete Report
Video: Anthony Ferrara
Casey Kelly, SS/RHP
Sarasota High School, Sarasota, Fla.
A tremendous athlete who could end up as University of Tennessee's quarterback next fall, Kelly slammed a pair of doubles in the marquee matchup against Ferrara (one of the hits came against him). That's a good start for a guy who's only question has been about his bat. He's also a pretty good pitching prospect who might have a better future on the mound. He's certainly got the lineage for baseball, with his father Pat, a former player and manager (and the current Reds bench coach), his uncle Mike, a former player, and a brother who's played in the Rays organization. Complete Report
Video: Casey Kelly
Justin LaTempa, RHP
Golden West College, Huntington Beach, Calif.
Unheralded as a high schooler, LaTempa spent two years at Cal Irvine trying to find playing time while battling control and some injury issues. His velocity took off when he transferred to Golden West, a junior college, and scouts have been on him since. In his first five starts, he's gone 5-0 with a 0.52 ERA with 23 hits, 13 walks and 26 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings. Complete Report
Video: LaTempa on his decision to play JUCO
Video: Justin LaTempa
Colby Shreve, RHP
College of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas
After a strong freshman season, the Braves drafted Shreve in the seventh round last year, but were unable to sign him. He headed back to the Vegas-area JUCO for another season and he's got some serious arm strength. Over his first four starts, Shreve has gone 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA, striking out 22, walking nine and allowing 11 hits over 25 1/3 frames. Complete Report
Video: Colby Shreve
Riccio Torrez, SS/2B
Brophy Prep, Phoenix
Torrez gets that high praise from scouts as being a real "baseball player." He can do everything fairly well, with his bat as his one plus tool. He plays some short for Brophy, but most see him as a second baseman, like his brother at Arizona State University, at the next level. Complete Report
Video: Riccio Torrez
Austin Wood, RHP
Niceville High School, Niceville, Fla.
His new teammate DeVall might get more attention, but scouts knew all about Wood even before DeVall arrived. Now they can get two for the price of one at times, as one often relieves the other, at least early this spring. Wood's a big right-hander with plenty of arm strength and ceiling. Complete Report
Video: Austin Wood
Draft notes: A number of college aces took the mound for the first time last weekend. Pepperdine's Brett Hunter threw extremely well, hitting the upper 90s late into his start against Wake Forest. Missouri's Aaron Crow also looked good, going five innings, striking out seven and allowing one run against UConn. Virginia's Jacob Thompson tossed five scoreless frames in his debut. USD's Brian Matusz, the top college arm in the class according to some, was not so fortunate. He yielded six earned runs on eight hits and four walks, striking out six in 4 2/3 innings against SD State. ... Offensively, South Carolina's Reese Havens was red-hot over the weekend, going 7-for-14 in three games with two homers and six RBIs. Scouts were hoping to see a similar start from Vanderbilt's Pedro Alvarez, who's considered to be the top bat in the draft class. But he got a couple of at-bats in the Commodores' opener before missing the rest of their first weekend with a sore wrist. More on this in future reports. ... On the high school scene, there was some good news and bad news out west. Jaff Decker, a lefty out of Sunrise Mountain High School in Arizona, tossed a no-hitter in his season debut. The bad news came in the form of John Lamb's elbow. Featured in last week's Draft Report for opening some eyes at the Urban Youth Academy showcase, he'll miss at least 12 weeks with an avulsion fracture caused by a car accident. The good news is he won't need surgery, but he won't be back until later in May.
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.