Sunday, June 3, 2012

MLB Draft Prospect Scouting Report: Joe DeCarlo

The Northeast is perpetually understocked on amateur baseball talent.  It is the nature of the meteorologically uncooperative beast.  There’s not much to see up here, a problem compounded this year by one of the weaker draft classes the industry has seen in a while.  All that made seeing Garnet Valley High School shortstop, Joe DeCarlo, my top amateur scouting priority of the Spring.  A top 60 recruit on his way to Georgia, I scouted DeCarlo twice and both times left underwhelmed.  Don’t get me wrong, DeCarlo is a talented young man and there’s plenty to like about him (and I’ll get into all that in a minute), it just didn’t look to me like this was one of the top high schoolers in the country.  In fact, between what I saw and the report from Baseball America’s Nathan Rode that DeCarlo was likely to be selected somewhere between rounds six and ten, I had all but decided against spending time writing this report.  Then today ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel reported that teams were considering him in the sandwich round.  I can’t ignore that.   Let’s talk Joe DeCarlo.

Listed at 6’1”, 205lbs, DeCarlo actually looked to be about my height at 5’11” or so.  He is very physically mature for a high school kid, strong and muscular.  It’s nice to look at a kid who’s already physically mature and know what his body is going to look like as he ages since it already looks like that.  Conversely, there’s little to no room for DeCarlo to grow and the simple fact that his physical composition is unlikely to improve, that there’s no frame on which to dream, hurts his stock. 

Like most premium high school athletes, DeCarlo’s current defensive residence lies at shortstop.  His hands are terrific and his arm is slightly above average, both adequate for the position.  However, his instincts and feel for short are sub-par.  Combine that with the probability that age will impede upon his already fringy range and DeCarlo profiles at third base where he should be just fine.

Whenever an amateur’s defensive profile pushes him to a corner, you have to ask yourself if his bat will be strong enough to carry him to the majors.  DeCarlo’s bat is interesting albeit unconvincing.  It’s a simple swing that doesn’t produce as much power as the body would indicate.  Failing to extend his hands most of the time, DeCarlo took swings for scouts with a wooden bat after one of the games I attended and failed to do little more than pepper his high school field’s outfield with fliners.  There are issues with his base that can be iron out with good coaching.  It’s not a stretch to think that the team that selects DeCarlo will do some mechanical tweaking to see if the pop can be unleashed.  In games DeCarlo shows signs of advanced pitch recognition for his age.  If embarrassed by a good breaking ball once, the adjustments were made to prevent it from happening again.

For what it’s worth, he has a fantastic taste in neckties.

So there’s a lot to like about Joe DeCarlo but also plenty to be skeptical about.  In a weak draft class, it’s not moronic to think a team that’s had a good look at him will make an early move. As a Philly kid, I’ll certainly be rooting for him.

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