The following piece can be originally seen directly at PnrScouting.
Justin O'Conner | SS/C/RHP | Cowan HS (Ind.)
Ht/Wt: 6-1/190 | B/T: R/R | Year: Senior | Born: 03/31/1992
Aflac All-American High School Baseball Classic (San Diego, CA) August 16, 2009 (film)
Tournament of Stars (Cary, NC) June 24, 2009 (film)
National Showcase (Minneapolis, MN) June 11, 2009 (film)
Randolph Southern vs. Cowan (Muncie, IN) May 12, 2009 (in attendance)
O’Conner stands out physically with a mature, strong build, particularly in his upper-body. Shows smooth actions in the field; good athleticism and body control. Quick twitch actions and athleticism mean he can likely afford to add some muscle without being forced off of shortstop, though there isn't much room left in his frame to fill-in. His actions/frame play all around the diamond.
Hitting out of a slightly open stance, O’Conner has relaxed hands at the plate that rest on top of his shoulder, with his elbow up and parallel with the ground. He has a very slight timing step, and a medium size stride that he controls well by keeping his hands back and in line with his back knee and head. Very distinct rotational hitter, O’Conner has plus bat speed and maintains good athletic posture from his load to the point of contact. He rotates his back shoulder extremely well through the point of contact. This keeps his elbow in the ‘Power L’ position, resulting in quite an impressive compact swing for a high school bat. O’Conner uses his quick hips to his advantage, and his back knee is bent 90 degrees at the point of contact (indicating he's rotating cleanly while maintaining good balance and weight distribution). He also has good hip/shoulder separation, which is the foundation of the plus bat speed and impressive loft. The momentum O’Conner generates in his swing carries through to his post-contact extension and easy follow-through, which is remarkably similar to Manny Ramirez's.
Two things immediately stand out about O’Conner's defensive game are his excellent arm strength and lightning quick release. He has been clocked in the mid-90s on the mound, and carries that arm strength into the field. His range is merely adequate, but he makes up for it in part with his quick release and in part with his agility. O’Conner moves his feet well and centers on the ball, positioning himself well for rough hops. He's also proficient on both sides of the double play. To maximize his defensive production, he will need to learn to be more aggressive coming in on the ball, as well as fielding through the ball more regularly, as he has a tendency to wait back (though his quick release and arm strength minimize the negative results some). He should have the athleticism to stick at short or even slide behind the plate, as a pro.
Throwing out of a high ¾ arm slot, O’Conner comes at hitters with a high leg lift, and continues to drop and drive on his way to the plate. Upon doing so, his shoulders fly open before his hips, often resulting in a lack of command. Instead of breaking his hands towards second base, O’Conner loses deception by cuffing the ball behind him towards first base. His arm action is a bit worrisome, as well. He’s late and breaks his hands with his elbows, which is often an indicator of a potential future injury. Upon foot strike, his hips are already fully rotated, causing his arm to play catch-up, creating unnecessary stress on his shoulder/elbow. He lands on his front foot with plant-leg bent, which is a good thing. However, he doesn’t generate the maximum amount of power because he doesn’t push off the rubber as hard as his velocity indicates. More of a thrower than a pitcher at this point in time. He finishes falling off towards first base, placing him in an awkward fielding position.
Fastball - O’Conner’s fastball compares favorably to his peers -- a prep class flush with power arms. He sits around 91-92 but can dial it up to the mid-90s. Presently, it does not have much life. Command is below average.
Curveball - O’Conner’s curveball has good 11-5 bite and sits in the 74-77 range. Still inconsistent, it can flatten a little and his command of the pitch fluctuates with his ability to find the release point.
Change-up - Didn't flash his change, but it is a known bullet in his arsenal -- reputation for being a work-in-progress.
Projected Position: SS/C
Suggested Draft Slot: Mid- to Supplemental-1st Round
GRADING OUT (FUTURE):
Motion: 30 (50)