This spring, all eyes will be on Las Vegas.
The last time the state of Nevada produced a first-round pick was in 2000 when the Brewers selected outfielder Dave Krynzel out of Green Valley High in Henderson. That was a great year for the state, with six picks in the top 10 rounds, but 2010 should be even better.
Of course the crown jewel for the Silver State will be catcher Bryce Harper, who skipped his final two years of high school to enroll at one of the nation’s top junior-college programs, the College of Southern Nevada, and become draft-eligible this season. He is the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick when the draft rolls around next June. The Nationals hold that pick, after going 59-103 in 2009.
It was a busy summer for Harper. He was with his new teammates for a couple weeks and then left for about six weeks to play for USA Baseball’s 18-and-under team, helping his country win a gold medal by hitting .294/.375/.588 with four doubles and two home runs over 34 at-bats. He also led the team with two stolen bases in as many attempts.
He continued to hit well when he returned to Southern Nevada for fall ball.
With about 35 scouts—including four high-ranking Nationals executives—and 350 fans in the stands for the team’s final fall game, Harper put on a show, hitting a triple off the center-field wall in his first at-bat and a double in his second at-bat. He grounded out in his third at-bat but saved the best for last, hitting an opposite-field blast over the trees beyond the left-center field wall, more than 400 feet away.
While Harper will certainly be the center of attention at CSN, he won’t be the only one to watch. The Coyotes’ pitching staff will rival many Division I programs—which is part of the reason why head coach Tim Chambers called this year’s class the best the school has ever had, on paper.
Sophomore righthander Tyler Hanks was extremely impressive this spring, pumping 94-97 mph fastballs and a 81-84 slider. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder from Spanish Fork (Utah) High is committed to transfer to Oklahoma State next season. However, with that kind of stuff, he shouldn’t last long in the draft.
Righthander Donnie Roach, a Top 100 draft prospect in 2008 out of Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, transfered to CSN from Arizona this year and also looked sharp this fall. He was sitting 90-94 mph with his fastball and mixed in an above-average splitter, as well as a curveball. He and Bryce’s older brother—lefthander Bryan Harper—have committed to South Carolina next year. Bryan Harper’s fastball sat at 88-91 mph this fall with a curveball and a changeup.
Three more sophomore righthanders also lit up the radar guns: Joe Robinson, a Georgia signee, was 90-95 with his fastball, Aaron Kurcz, a transfer from Air Force, was 91-94 and Kenny McDowall, who is committed to Hawaii, was 90-92.
The Coyotes will also have some offensive talent. Outfielder Trevor Kirk was a 47th-round pick by the Brewers last year after hitting .366/.425/.466 with 30 stolen bases, but returned for his sophomore season. First baseman Marvin Campbell, catcher Ryan Scott and outfielder Jordan Keegan were all late draft picks out of high school in 2008. Campbell is a big, strong hitter that led the team in home runs last year with six. Kirk is so good behind the plate that he and Harper are expected to split time back there 50-50, with Harper spending the rest of his playing time in the outfield—although he also saw some time this fall at shortstop.
The Coyotes will be playing some very interesting games in late Jaunary and February, participating in some high-profile junior college tournaments before conference play begins on March 5.
CSN will host the fourth-annual Coyote Border Battle Jan 29-31 and it will feature Arizona jucos Yavapai JC, Arizona Western CC and Gateway CC. Two weeks later, the Coyotes host the 11th-annual CSN Coyote Classic, which will likely be the center of the scouting universe. Cochise (Ariz.) JC, Central Arizona JC, Cochise (Ariz.) JC and Cypress (Calif.) JC will all be in attendance, but the highlight will be Chipola (Fla.) JC—a team that features two prominent 2009 draftees: unsigned Rays first-round outfielder LeVon Washington, and Blue Jays usigned second-round lefthander Jake Eliopoulos.
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