The CBB has been previewing some of the top players in the country for the 2008 season throughout this off-season. This week we check in on the top freshmen in the country.
Derek Dietrich SS/P (Georgia Tech)
Derek Dietrich is a 6’1 199 pound shortstop/pitcher out of Parma OH. He was a third round pick by the Houston Astros in 2007 but elected to enroll at Georgia Tech after failing to come to terms on a contract. Dietrich was honored throughout his high school career with many awards including being named Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year and Perfect Game’s Ohio Player of the Year in his senior season. He picked up a national award as he was 2007 Honorable Mention All-American by Louisville Slugger. He is expected to be inserted right into the Yellow Jackets lineup and should make an impact on the field.
Matt Harvey RHP (North Carolina)
Matt Harvey is a 6’4 200 pound right handed pitcher out of Fitch Senior High School in Mystic CT. He was drafted in the third round by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim making him the highest drafted player to play for the Tar Heels. Many scouts in the New England area expected Harvey to be one of the top 10 picks but he slid in the draft due to his relationship with Scott Boras and losing some on his fastball late in the high school season. Harvey was honored as the Number 1 prospect by Baseball America in February of his senior season. He was named as the Player of the Year in Connecticut by the Hartford Courant and Gatorade. He was named an All-American by AFLAC, Under Armour, Playstation, and Louisville Slugger. He should compete for a spot in the rotation with the Heels.
Cameron Rupp OF/C (Texas)
Cameron Rupp is a 6’2 220 pound catcher/outfielder out of Plano TX and Prestonwood Christian Academy. He was named to the Texas Private School All-State squad as a junior. He was named to the 2006 AFLAC All-American Game where he won the home run derby. He needs to make changes in his swings to become a solid major league talent as he has some holes in his swing. Rupp will have to try to break into the Longhorns roster in the outfield or first base as Preston Clark will be behind the plate in 2008.
Nate Striz RHP (North Carolina)
Nate Striz is a 6’2 240 pound right handed pitcher out of Lakeland FL and Sante Fe Catholic. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Minnesota Twins but could not come to terms thus setting the way to go to UNC. He was rated by Baseball America as the 95th player in the country before his senior season. He was named to the All-State team for three years including being named to the First team in his senior season. He went 7-3 with a 0.65 ERA and 112 strikeouts in only 64 innings in the talent rich state of Florida. Striz should be able to compete for a spot in the rotation with Harvey which gives the Tar Heels two stud pitchers for the next three seasons.
Evan Danieli RHP (Notre Dame)
Evan Danieli is a 6’8 225 right handed pitcher from Seton Hall Prep School and East Hanover NJ. He was picked for the 2006 AFLAC All-American Game after a strong junior season which saw him go 5-1 with a 1.10 ERA. Perfect Game rated Danieli the 27th HS prospect in their rankings on November 14th, 2006. They also ranked him the 58th overall prospect in the country before the draft. Danieli should make an immediate impact in the Fighting Irish rotation as they try to rebound from a disappointing 28-28 season.
Seth Blair RHP (Arizona State)
Seth Blair is a 6’1 190 pound right handed pitcher out of Rock Falls Illinois High School. He was a 47th round pick by the Oakland A’s but slid to that spot after a firm commitment to attending Arizona State. He had an outstanding 34-8 record with 8 saves over his four year career in high school. He was ranked as the number 1 player in the state of Illinois before his senior season by many organizations. The Chicago Tribune named him to All-Illnois Second team while the IHSBCA named him to the first team after an outstanding 2007 senior season which saw him win the Team MVP and Top hitter award for the third straight season. He should compete for a spot in the bullpen as the Sun Devils have a very solid team coming back.
Ben Klafczynski OF (Kent State)
Ben Klafczynski is a 6′3 200 pound outfielder from Medina Highland High School and Granger Township Ohio. He was named to Baseball America’s Top 100 high school players in the class of 2007. He was named to the 2007 Louisville Slugger All-American 1st team and picked up pre-season accolades in the 2006 season from them. He was also named to the (BCA) High School Baseball Coaches First Team and finished his high school career with 4 category entries into the Ohio all-time record book. He was expected to be one of the top high school draft picks but was not selected as he made it known that he had a strong commitment to Kent State. Ben is expected to compete for a starting position for the defending MAC championship team. Scott Stricklin talked about him in our recent interview which is available here.
Other players of note: Kyle Konicek (UNLV), DJ LeMahieu (LSU), Cody Reine (LSU), and John Hornke (Miami OH)