|THIS YEAR’S CROP|
|*****||One for the books|
|***||Solid, not spectacular|
|**||Not up to par|
|*||Nothing to see here|
Pitching is the story in Oklahoma this year. High school lefthander Brett Anderson will be a first-round pick, and Seminole State Junior College has several possible draft choices if they don’t sign as draft-and-follows. The hitters aren’t drawing nearly as much attention, though Ty Weeden has one of the most powerful bats in the prep ranks.
|National Top 200 Prospects
1. Brett Anderson, lhp, Stillwater HS
2. Ty Weeden, c, Santa Fe HS, Edmond
3. Drew Miller, rhp, Seminole State JC (CONTROL: Padres)
|Other Players Of Note
4. Daniel McCutchen, rhp, Oklahoma (CONTROL: Cardinals)
5. Shelby Ford, 2b, Oklahoma State
6. Duke Welker, rhp, Seminole State JC (CONTROL: Mariners)
7. Jeremy Hefner, rhp, Seminole State JC (CONTROL: Mets)
8. Tyler Henson, ss, Tuttle HS
9. Brae Wright, lhp, Oklahoma State
10. John Maschino, rhp, Seminole State JC (CONTROL: Devil Rays)
11. Tyler Mach, 3b, Oklahoma State
12. Ryan Rohlinger, 3b, Oklahoma
13. Chuckie Caufield, of, Oklahoma
14. Kody Kaiser, of, Oklahoma
15. Blake King, rhp, Eastern Oklahoma State JC (CONTROL: Cardinals)
16. Garrett Richards, rhp, Edmond Memorial HS, Edmond
17. Elvin Vargas, of, Connors State JC (CONTROL: Orioles)
18. Austin McClune, of, Santa Fe HS, Edmond
19. Deik Scram, of, Oklahoma State
20. Tim Torres, ss, Oral Roberts
21. Brandon Harrigan, c, Oklahoma City
22. Aljay Davis, ss, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M JC (CONTROL: White Sox)
23. Chris Armstrong, lhp, Owasso HS
24. Adam Carr, 1b, Oklahoma State
25. Tyson Seng, ss, Enid HS
26. Sean Finefrock, rhp, Blanchard HS
27. Sean Jarrett, rhp, Oral Roberts
28. Caleb Harren, 3b/1b, Carl Albert HS, Midwest City
29. Andy Bouchie, c, Oral Roberts
30. Russell Raley, 2b, Oklahoma
31. Travis DeBondt, of, Oral Roberts
32. Will Savage, rhp, Oklahoma
33. Tanner Chitwood, lhp, Sulphur HS
34. Nick Jones, rhp, Oral Roberts
35. Steven Guerra, rhp, Oklahoma
1. Brett Anderson, lhp (National rank: 19)
School: Stillwater HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Stillwater, Okla.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 205. Birthdate: 2/1/88.
Scouting Report: Anderson’s package doesn’t quite fit together. He’s arguably the most polished pitcher with quality stuff in the draft, no surprise considering his father Frank had long been one of college baseball’s most respected pitching coaches before becoming the head coach at Oklahoma State. Brett locates an 89-91 mph fastball at will, and at times it ranks as his third-best pitch. He has a hard, 78-83 mph curveball that’s a strikeout pitch and an advanced changeup for a teenager. He also has a slower, get-me-over version of his curve. He repeats his delivery and arm slot every time. Anderson has excelled on the international stage, pitching Team USA’s youth and junior teams to silver medals the last two summers. So what’s not to like? Scouts say it’s Anderson’s glaring lack of athleticism. He has a soft, 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame, and he has trouble fielding bunts and covering first base. Some scouts say he has the best command of any high school lefty in recent memory, while others say he may be the worst athlete taken in the first round in years. Nevertheless, he almost certainly will go in the first round.
2. Ty Weeden, c (National rank: 196)
School: Santa Fe HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Edmond, Okla.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 220. Birthdate: 9/26/87.
Scouting Report: Weeden’s brother Brandon was the Yankees’ top pick (second round) in the 2002 draft and was part of the Kevin Brown trade with the Dodgers. Though Ty can throw 90-92 mph off the mound, he won’t follow in his brother’s footsteps as a pitcher. Scouts still talk about the batting-practice show he put on at the Area Code Games last summer, displaying tremendous power to all fields. If scouts believed he could play catcher, he’d go in the first two rounds. But they’re skeptical because he doesn’t have the agility or receiving skills to match his arm strength. He’s probably destined for first base, where much more offense is required, because he may lack the athleticism to handle an outfield corner. Nevertheless, his righthanded power is a valuable commodity, and he’ll be a decent draft pick if he’s considered signable away from Arkansas.
3. Drew Miller, rhp (National rank: 197)
School: Seminole State (Okla.) JC. Class: Fr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 2/24/86.
Scouting Report: Seminole State, which has produced big league pitchers Eric Cyr, Ryan Franklin, Eric Gagne and Robert Person, had a wealth of talent on the mound this spring. Eight Trojans are under control as draft-and-follows, most notably Miller. Few pitchers in this draft can match his ability to hold plus velocity for nine innings. He has a 92-96 mph fastball, and he closed out one outing by throwing 95 on his 103rd pitch and 96 on his 104th and last. Miller is basically all arm strength right now. He doesn’t have much in the way of secondary pitches. His slider is better than his curve but is still rudimentary, and his changeup lags further behind. His feel for pitching, control and command also need work. A 37th-round pick of the Padres in 2005, Miller may be a tougher sign than most juco players because he has committed to attend the University of Virginia. His cousin Brad Miller, a shortstop at Cowley County Junior College, is the top juco position player in Kansas and one of the best in the draft.
Lots Of Repeat Draft Offenders In Sooner State
Scouts are becoming a bit jaded about righthander Daniel McCutchen, who turned down the Yankees as a 47th-round pick out of Grayson County (Texas) Community College in 2003, the Devil Rays as a 29th-rounder in 2004 and the Cardinals as a 12th-rounder in 2005. St. Louis still controls his rights because he’s a fifth-year senior, but his season at Oklahoma may not end in time for him to sign. While McCutchen can reach 95 with his fastball, he’s most effective when he works at 90-91 mph with increased sink. His curveball has become a reliable second pitch and he has a decent changeup that he doesn’t use often. After battling elbow problems at Grayson County, he has stayed healthy in three years with the Sooners. Now that he has no leverage remaining, he could go in the sixth to 10th round as a senior sign.
Second baseman Shelby Ford hit 16 homers as a freshman and .370 as a sophomore at Texas Christian, but he slumped horribly in the first half of the season after transferring to Oklahoma State. He snapped out of it in time to re-establish himself as the top college position prospect in the state. He’s a switch-hitter who has a good stroke from both sides of the plate (especially lefthanded). He has loft in his swing and could add power if he can bulk up his 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame. A former shortstop, he’s dependable if not flashy with the glove. He profiles as an offensive-oriented second baseman or utilityman as a pro.
Seminole State has several attractive draft-and-follow righthanders in addition to Drew Miller. The Mariners have drafted Duke Welker twice, in the 34th round in 2004 and the 39th round in 2005. He uses his 6-foot-6, 210-pound frame to throw his 88-92 mph sinker on a steep downward plane. He also throws an effective curveball and a changeup for strikes. He had arthroscopic surgery to repair fraying in his labrum as a freshman. He’s committed to Arkansas. A 48th-round choice by the Mets last June, Jeremy Hefner is similar to Welker in terms of his build (6-foot-5, 190 pounds) and best pitch (an 88-91 mph sinker). If they don’t turn pro, Welker will attend Arkansas and Hefner will go to Oral Roberts. Another tall righty, 6-foot-5, 230-pound freshman John Maschino, has seen his velocity jump from 88-91 mph in 2005 to 90-94 this spring. A Devil Rays 36th-rounder last year, he’s not as polished as Welker or Hefner. Before he injured his arm while throwing a 94 mph fastball, scouts considered freshman Ryan Lindgren the best pitching prospect on the Trojans staff. A Mariners 23rd-rounder in 2005, he began his juco career at Daytona Beach (Fla.) before transferring to Seminole State in January. He improved rapidly afterward, as his fastball climbed from 88-90 to 92-94 mph and his slider became a hard, late-breaking pitch. He had Tommy John surgery and should return in mid-2007.
Tyler Henson is one of the most athletic shortstops in the Midwest, which could get him drafted between the sixth and 10th rounds despite questions about his bat. Six-foot-2 and 190 pounds, he quarterbacked Tuttle High to a 14-0 record and the Class 3-A football title, then led the baseball team to the Class 4-A championship, earning the win as a pitcher in the finale. His speed and arm strength are plus tools, and he has good actions at shortstop. He also offers pop, though scouts worry about his approach at the plate. Though he committed to Arkansas, he’s expected to sign if he goes in the first 10 rounds. If not, he could attend Connors State as a draft-and-follow. The Royals have scouted Henson more heavily than any other club.
Lefthander Brae Wright’s previous two seasons came to a premature end, when he was dismissed for violating team rules at Mississippi in 2004 and broke his pitching hand punching a teammate in 2005. He projected as a possible third-round pick before getting hurt last year, then went undrafted in June. He’s a lefty who can throw three pitches for strikes–an 88-92 mph fastball, a cutter and a slider–though he sometimes catches too much of the plate. He should go in the sixth to 10th round on talent, perhaps earlier because he’ll come with a senior discount.
Third baseman Tyler Mach shared Big 12 Conference player-of-the-year honors with projected first-rounder Drew Stubbs of Texas, but scouts aren’t sold on him as a pro prospect. Though he entered the NCAA regional playoffs leading the Big 12 in homers (16) and RBIs (66) and ranking second in batting (.378), scouts see him as a dead-fastball hitter who has taken advantage of the favorable hitting conditions at Oklahoma State. In his first season with the Cowboys after stints at Washington and Edmonds (Wash.) Community College, Mach has some length to his swing and no other tools to supplement his bat. He may have to move off the hot corner as a pro.
Ryan Rohlinger has been one of the steadiest and most versatile players in the Big 12 for three seasons. He started at second base, shortstop and left field for the Sooners before settling in at third base. He has good bat control and some power, but his bat would fit better at second or short than it would at third in pro ball. A 21st-round selection by the Cardinals in 2005, he’ll go much higher as a senior sign this year.
Chuckie Caufield comes from an athletic family, as his father Charles played college football at Tulsa and his sister LaNeishea made it to the WNBA. Caufield didn’t hit enough to get drafted as a junior a year ago, but became an attractive senior sign after leading the Sooners with a .364 average entering the NCAA regionals. He’s a gamer with plus speed. Kody Kaiser is another Oklahoma outfielder with a notable sports relative: his uncle, Sunny Golloway, is the Sooners’ head coach. A draft-eligible sophomore with decent all-around tools, he’s not considered especially signable. He’ll probably move to second base when he does turn pro.
Blake King led national juco pitchers in strikeouts (123 in 86 innings) as a freshman while ranking seventh in ERA (1.05). He’s an undersized (6 feet, 195 pounds) righthander with a maximum-effort delivery, but he pitches at 90-91 mph, touches 94 and flashes an average breaking ball. He’s under control to the Cardinals, who took him in the 44th round last year.
Garrett Richards is a 6-foot-3, 185-pound righthander with plenty of projection remaining. He already has an 88-91 mph fastball, as well as a promising curveball and good command. Oklahoma’s top in-state recruit, he could be a tough sign because he hasn’t come close to reaching his upside yet.
For the second straight year, outfielder Elvin Vargas ranks as the state’s top juco position prospect. A 23rd-round pick of the Orioles last June, he also rated as the No. 1 prospect in the New York Collegiate League last summer. Vargas is a 6-foot-4, 220-pound Dominican with true power, and he has hit 26 homers in two years using wood bats at Connors State. Scouts worry about his ability to hit quality breaking balls, however.
Austin McClune is a center-field version of Tyler Henson. He’s a 6-foot-2, 175-pound athlete with speed, raw power and arm strength. As with Henson, McClune is still raw and not a sure thing at the plate. He starred at defensive back for a Santa Fe High football team (quarterbacked by Ty Weeden) that went 11-0 before losing in the state 6-A quarterfinals. McClune has the option of attending either Oklahoma State or Seminole State if he doesn’t turn pro.
The state’s most gifted amateur player hasn’t taken the diamond this spring. Bryant Beaver has become almost a legend in Oklahoma scouting circles, with some veterans calling him the best player they’ve ever seen. He has the tools to be a star as either a righthander or an infielder. Though he’s just 6 feet tall, he has a quick arm that produces 92-96 mph fastballs and plus curveballs. He’s also a switch-hitter with a sound stroke, gap power and plus speed and defensive skills. The catch is a felony conviction that has scared teams away from drafting him in the past. They hoped that he would continue to prove himself on and off the field this spring at Oklahoma State, which would make it easier to draft him, but he failed to get his degree from Seminole State and never joined the Cowboys. He could draw interest as a nondrafted free agent once he completes the terms of his probation in October.