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By Allan Simpson
Idaho, Montana, Wyoming
(Talent Ranking: ** out of five) Idaho's Lewis-Clark State has won the NAIA World Series four of the last five years and 13 times overall. The Warriors were 51-8 and seeded No. 3 as they began play in this year's World Series, but aren't a great team from a draft standpoint. Six or seven players may be picked, but probably none in the first 10 rounds. The best talent may be in Montana, but righthander Nolan Gallagher is set on attending Stanford and may not even be drafted.
Projected First-Round Picks
Second- to Fifth-Round Talent
Others To Watch
• LHP Kyle Allen is projected as Lewis-Clark State's best draft pick. A transfer from Orange Coast (Calif.) CC, Allen led the Warriors in strikeouts and shared the team lead with seven wins. He'll need to add velocity to his mid -to high-80s fastball to accompany an effective curveball, but he locates his pitches well.
• SS Derek Bruce, a local high school product who played shortstop for Washington State his first two college seasons before transferring back home, hit .309-7-50. He settled in nicely at shortstop but may lack the range to play the position in the pro ranks.
• C Tyler Best had a poor junior season for the Warriors, hitting .171, but he re-established himself last summer when he led the wood-bat Alaska League with a .352 average and tied for the team lead with 15 homers this spring. He may be the rare player who hits better with wood than aluminum. He's a solid receiver with a quick release.
• Six-foot-4, 215-pound RHP Ryan Heil, a San Diego State transfer, struck out 41 in 29 innings in a set-up role.
• 3B Jose Rodriguez made a seamless transition to the hot corner after starting at shortstop on last year's national championship squad, and hit a team-high .361.
• Southern Idaho's best players are RHP Mitch Woolf (White Sox) and C Mitch Stachowski (Red Sox), both under control from last year's draft. They could be mid-round selections if they don't sign. Wolff's best pitch is a power curve, and it helped him finish among Scenic West Conference leaders in wins and strikeouts. A Brigham Young signee, Wolff has designs on becoming an astronaut. The powerfully built Stachowski has sound defensive skills but hit .291 and has has a way to go with the bat.
• RHP Nolan Gallagher is the best high school player in a state that has no formal high school program. His season began in early May when he started playing American Legion ball, but scouts paid little attention to him as he has indicated he is set on a Stanford education. Both his parents are doctors. Despite the baseball limitations inherent in growing up in Montana, Gallagher is polished. He's worked closely with former big league lefthander Jeff Ballard, a Billings resident, to fine-tune his mechanics. Gallagher is a strike thrower with an easy arm action, and his fastball was clocked as high as 92 mph last fall. He also has an above-average slider and changeup.
• Idaho's best high school talent is 6-foot-4 LHP Brandon Pullen, who missed most of the spring after having surgery on his foot for bone spurs. He was out of shape when he returned and his fastball topped out in the mid-80s, but scouts say there's a lot more in there. Pullen is an ideal draft-and-follow candidate and will look to improve his stock over the next year at an Arizona junior college.
• Wyoming also doesn't play high school baseball, yet has a rare prospect this year in speedy OF Bryce Nimmo.