On Friday, we told you about John A. Logan lefthander Danny Jimenez, the top junior college prospect in Illinois this spring. Two more Midwest juco players worth watching are Allen County (Kan.) shortstop Dillon Hazlett and Iowa Western righthander Derek Landis.
Hazlett is the best position prospect in Kansas this spring–college, junior college or high school. A 6-foot-1, 191-pound sophomore, he’s an explosive athlete. He has plus speed, good actions and arm strength at shortstop, and quick hands at the plate that give him surprising pop. He’s hitting .454/.526/.754 through 40 games, with six homers and 25 steals in 26 attempts. He’ll attend North Carolina next year if he doesn’t turn pro.
As expected, Iowa has a strong crop of juco pitchers, including righthanders Mitch Mormann and Patrick Cooper of Des Moines Area and lefties Brian Feekin and Mike Strong of Iowa Western. Mormann draws the most attention because he can pitch into the mid-90s.
All four of those arms should get drafted this June, and both Mormann (17th round, Indians) and Feekin (41st round, Rangers) were picked a year ago. The surprise is that Landis, a previously unheralded freshman, will join them and could sneak as high as the 12th-15th rounds.
Landis worked at 84-86 mph when Iowa Western recruited him out of Ralston (Neb.) High. He broke his right hand and didn’t pitch in fall practice, but he came out throwing 88-92 mph in his first outing this spring and has maintained that velocity. He still has quite a bit of projection remaining in his slender 6-foot-5, 180-pound frame, and he’s comfortable working with a four-pitch mix. The rest of his arsenal includes a good curveball, a changeup and a cutter that he uses as a slider.
Landis has a 4-3, 4.32 record with 42 strikeouts in as many innings.
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