2006 Draft: Top 13 prospects in Georgia

The Atlanta Braves have always taken care of business in their own back yard when it comes to the amateur draft. Jeff Francouer, Brian McCann, Kyle Davies, and Macay McBride are four players on the Braves roster from the state of Georgia. The Braves Show's Bill Shanks looks at some of the top prospects this year from the Peach State.

The overall talent in the high school ranks is down this year in the state of Georgia. In fact, there may be higher picks out of the college ranks in the Peach State this year than the prep arena. The pitching is especially weak in the high schools, whereas there are numerous athletic type-position players that might have to make a decision between baseball and football that could be taken in the top ten rounds. Here's a look at thirteen of the top high school players in the state of Georgia.

Cedric Hunter - OF – Martin Luther King HS in Decatur – 6'0", 170 – B:L, T:L
From every report, this kid is a baseball player. Hunter is the best hitter in the state. He's not a big power prospect, more of a Jacque Jones-type of player. He sprays the ball all over the field, pretty much a gap-to-gap hitter now. He's played against good competition all his life and always hit, so he's good to project that it will continue to develop in pro ball. His defense is average to above average, and he gets good reads off the ball. Hunter has very good instincts and is a solid athlete. Some kids are good athletes and suspect players, but this guy has a good combination of both. Potential second round pick.

Michael Demperio - INF – Kell HS in Marietta – 5'11", 165 – B:R, T: R
Played shortstop in high school and did well. Some think he may have to move to second base, but others believe he can stay at short. His defense is outstanding. He has plus range and his arm is sound. Offensively, Demperio is a leadoff hitter with outstanding speed. He takes the extra base and is just an aggressive base runner. Some power may develop, but he's pretty much a slap hitter. You wouldn't want this type of player to try to hit for power. Has a scholarship to the University of Texas, so he might be difficult to sign. Potential third or fourth rounder.

Nick Fuller - RHP – Kell HS in Marietta – 6'1", 195 – B:R, T:R
Fuller is the best prep pitcher in the state of Georgia in a very down year. His fastball is consistently in the 92-95 mph range, which is impressive considering his thin frame. He needs to fill out a bit more to support his power stuff. But his slider is a plus pitch right now. Hitters have no chance when Fuller throws his slider. His change and curve are average, and will definitely be pitches he'll have to work on. Some wonder if he may be a closer or setup man in the big leagues one day. He is committed to South Carolina. Potential fourth or fifth rounder.

Torre Langley - C – Alexander HS in Kinston – 5'9", 170 – B: R, T:R
Some believe Langley might be the best high school catcher in the country, and there's no question that defensively he is just that. His defense is superb. He's a solid catch and throw guy with a strong arm. The mechanics behind the plate are solid. He needs to improve his game-calling a bit, but that will happen. The question is his bat, although he hit .640 this season along with seventeen home runs. But with his small frame, it's questionable as to whether or not Langley will develop much offensively. His size may detract some teams, but this kid is a gamer who loves playing a tough position. Could be a fourth or fifth round pick.

Brent Brewer - SS – Sandy Creek HS in Tyrone – 6'2", 190 – B:R, T:R
Is he a football player trying to play baseball, or vice versa? Brewer signed a football scholarship with Florida State after playing quarterback, wide receiver, and cornerback at Sandy Creek. But he is more highly regarded as a baseball player, although some wonder if he's another athlete that might have trouble in pro ball. He's very raw offensively, and when he's faced stronger pitching, he's had some trouble. Defensively, he might have to move to the outfield, since there are questions about his defense at shortstop. The football scholarship, with FSU baseball coach Mike Martin also hoping he'll play both sports, is something that might scare some teams away, but his speed has some teams wanting him desperately. He'll probably go somewhere between the third and fifth rounds.

D'Vontrey Richardson - OF – Lee Country – 6'2", 200 – B:R, T:R
Another athlete possibly heading to FSU to play football. He was a standout wide receiver at Lee County. His body is outstanding. He's just a fantastic athlete. D'Vontrey runs well and covers a lot of ground in the outfield. But can he shake the "George Lombard" syndrome and develop as a ballplayer? Scouts seem to be split on his potential. Some believe he can develop outstanding power in the future, while others wonder if he can handle better pitching than was offered in his region. But there is no doubt Richardson is a fantastic athlete with numerous skills. The football is an issue, since he's an even better football player than Brewer. Could be drafted anywhere from the fifth to sixth round.

Tom Hickman - OF – Pepperell HS in Rome – 6'1", 175 – B:L, T:
A lefty hitter with occasional pop. He's got a real smooth stroke and makes solid contact. He's a Georgia Southern signee. Probably a fifth or sixth round pick.

Ben Paulsen - 1B – Kell HS in Marietta – 6'3", 190 - B:L, T:
Paulsen is an Adam LaRoche-type player: he has a smooth lefty swing and plays solid defense at first base. Potential sixth or eight round pick.

Mike Meschke - 1B – Pope HS in Marietta – 6'2", 215 – B:L, T:R
A big-bodied kid that has a power bat. He's going to have to hit for power, since he's a below average runner and is not that athletic. Defensively, he's very average. But his bat could be his ticket. Probably a seventh or eighth round pick.

Mark Fleury - C – Pope HS in Marietta – 6'1", 190 – B:L, T:R
Lefty hitting catcher who has a good body and hustles all the time. He's just a baseball rat with a lot of energy. Scouts have been a bit disappointed with his offense this season, but he's continued to make strides defensively. Good athlete for behind the plate. Possible seventh or eighth rounder.

Jace Whitmer - C – Harrison HS in Marietta – 6'2", 185 – B:R, T:R
Whitmer has got some offensive potential. He's got raw power and has the ability to swing the bat. However, there are questions about his defense and whether he'll stay behind the plate. May be a tenth or twelfth rounder.

David Cunningham - 3B – Roswell HS – 5'11", 203 – B:R, T:R
This is a great makeup kid that got hurt with back problems and caused his stock to drop. His tools are average, but the injury did enter into it. Probably going to attend Auburn.

Jonathan Merritt - SS – Douglasville HS – 5'8", 160 – B:R, T:R
Merritt has a small frame but does well as a middle infielder. He plays both second base and shortstop and has solid skills across the board. His bat is also solid. Probably would benefit from going to college for a few years, and he's signed with Birmingham Southern. Then he may be a more attractive prospect.

Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look at the Braves' traditional front office philosophies. Email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com.

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