News & Notes: Sarasota Classic, Part II

This second Sarasota Classic update will cover the balance of the prospects I saw during my time at the tournament. Harold Martinez was the highest profile guy and hijacked that first update that was meant to cover a few players, so I’ll go rapid fire on the thumbnail sketch of the remaining prospects and have the full scouting reports coming up as soon as I can.

Inside this News & Notes: a scorching hot ‘09 prospect, and possibly the best prep catcher since Joe Mauer. Find out more after the jump…

Bobby Borchering, for me, was the story of the Sarasota Classic. Being a junior on an average team for this field, not many scouts were paying attention to him, putting more attention toward top seniors, such as Sarasota High SS Casey Kelly (pictured above) and Braddock High SS Harold Martinez. I don’t have the stats in front of me, but from what I was able to gather, Borchering hit 4 homeruns in his first 3 games of the tournament against some excellent competition, and I was there taking some video when he hit the 4th one, which will be up with his full scouting report. The main difference in Borchering’s swing was simply a more concerted effort to get his lower half incorporated.

Borchering’s swing isn’t without flaws, but he’s on fire and has a lot of things going for him. One scouting service has the 6′4 switch-hitting 3B from Ft. Myers’ Bishop Verot High as one of the top 15 prep juniors in a deep Florida crop and top 50 in the country, and he’s certainly improved upon that status, moving into the elite category. He pitched on Wednesday and works in the mid-to-upper 80s as a pitcher with a clean arm, strong command, and solid breaking ball. He’s committed to the University of Florida, but I bet his prowess as a hitter will shoot him up draft charts and he’ll have a big dollar figure in front of him next June to make him think about it.

The other top 2009 draft prospect in Sarasota was catcher Austin Maddox from Jacksonville’s Eagle’s View Academy. Maddox had even more buzz entering the tournament, as the same scouting service had him as the 3rd best prep player in state and 8th in the country. Maddox oozes tools from behind the plate with a mature 6′3, 220 pound frame. He’s been up to 96 on the mound, consistently has pop times under 1.90 (2.00 is MLB average), is extremely athletic and active behind the plate, has near flawless technique and hands, and is a vocal leader and excellent teammate with great makeup. I haven’t even gotten to the bat, which is the most special part of this package. He has elite bat speed, a compact power stroke reminiscent of Mark McGwire, and has hit balls over 400 feet with wood all while batting over .500 facing one of the toughest schedules in the state of Florida. Now you can see why I’m not scared to say he may be the best prep catcher since Joe Mauer.

One team official said he’s an easy top 10 overall prospect for the 2009 draft right now and likened him to Mike Piazza with a plus-plus arm. So prospect watchers looking for the next great catching prospect to follow Matt Wieters appear to have their wish with California HS catcher Kyle Skipworth this year and Maddox next year.

The last player of the top prospect cavalcade in Sarasota was the aforementioned hometown SS Casey Kelly. Kelly has been atop prospects lists for the 2008 Draft since he was a sophomore at the powerhouse Sarasota High. Now it’s due-or-die time to convince scouts he is the premium prospect they’ve been saying he will be and he’s succeeding thus far. Projections range from as high as 10th overall down to the sandwich round, but a team somewhere in that range will certainly take an athletic 6′3 shortstop that is close to MLB-ready defensively right now and has a long track record of success hitting against good competition. The team that pops him will be the one that believes most in his bat, which could unlock his star potential.

Full reports on these players and those that I catch on the opening weekend for the Florida State League are all coming shortly.

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