How's Yavapai (Ariz.) JC third baseman/shortstop Milton Loo doing this spring? The Reds still control him, and I'm wondering if they're trying to sign him before the June draft.

Pat Wachs
Ithaca, N.Y.
A ninth-round pick by Cincinnati in the 2005 draft, Loo can sign with the Reds between the time his season ends at Yavapai and May 29. When John Manuel was covering the West for our Draft Preview, Loo intrigued him more than any other player. Here's what John wrote:

Loo was the first prep player picked out of Hawaii in 2004, and he has been the best prospect in Arizona’s wood-bat junior-college conference the last two seasons. He led Yavapai to a 49-10 record and No. 2 national ranking into early May, though he wasn’t the team’s best player statistically.

Loo, whose native island of Molokai is so small and rural that it has no stoplights, entices scouts with five-tool potential. Though his present power remains below average, his ability to cover the plate, make consistent, hard contact and repeat his short stroke make hitting his best tool. His raw power could profile him for third base. He moved to that position at Yavapai, but scouts agree he could play short or any other infield position as a pro thanks to above-average arm strength, excellent athleticism, good range and solid infield actions. After a rough start, he became an above-average defender at third in a short time this season.

If Loo’s effort and performance were more consistent, he’d rank among the top position players available. He’s a plus runner and solid baserunner, but he doesn’t run out ground balls as often as scouts want to see. After being bothered by a strained thumb and gimpy ankle in 2005, Loo missed time late in the 2006 season when his elbow flared up. It was diagnosed as nerve irritation and he returned to DH in the postseason. Loo’s durability will factor into whether or not the Reds—who offered him a reported bonus of more than $200,000 last summer—make another enthusiastic run at Loo.