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2005 Draft Scouting Reports: Nevada
By Allan Simpson
(National ranking in parentheses)
1. BRETT HAYES, c (National rank: 53)
2. JAKE RASNER, rhp (National rank: 193)
OTHERS TO WATCH
(Numbers in parentheses indicate rank in Nevada)
Juco Gold Mine In Southern Nevada
While Southern Nevada had nine players under control from the 2004 draft, its two best prospects weren’t selected last year.
RHP/OF Shawn Olsen (3) spent his freshman year at Salt Lake Community College and transferred to CCSN because he wanted to increase his chances of playing two ways in college; he has committed to Southern California for the same reason. The versatile Olsen got more attention last fall on the mound when he showcased three above-average pitches, including a 90-92 mph fastball and 82-84 slider, and it led the Major League Scouting Bureau to give him a rare 60 overall future grade on its 20-80 scale, indicative of an above-average major leaguer.
That number proved to be inflated this spring when Olsen’s fastball leveled off to 87-88, and he stopped pitching on a regular basis. He wore down from playing in the outfield as well as hitting in the leadoff hole. As he pitched less, scouts took more of a liking to his swing and decided he has greater upside as a position player. Olsen led the Scenic West Conference with a .366 average and finished among the stolen base leaders—while going 5-3, 2.44 on the mound. Olsen has limited power potential but offers such a range of tools that he could be drafted as an infielder, where he played most of his life prior to this season.
Like Olsen, 22-year-old RHP Jesse Craig (5) wasn't drafted last year. He spent his freshman year at Southern Nevada and returned there last fall after spending two years on a Mormon mission. He revamped his mechanics in the fall, emphasizing movement rather than velocity. He was slow to round into form but began throwing 90 mph more consistently than any of the other pitchers on a deep CCSN staff and asserted himself as the team’s ace, going 8-2, 1.33 with 79 strikeouts in 74 innings.
The team's two best players under control to teams from last year's draft are both Yankees picks. LHP Ryan Tabor (8), a 24th-round pick, joined Craig at the head of CCSN’s rotation. His professional worth is hurt by a lack of velocity, but he mixes four pitches well and went 8-0, 2.15. LHP/OF Michael Dunn (6) went in the 33rd round but is regarded as the better prospect. His emphasis is on power, both as a hitter and pitcher. He has raw power to all fields at the plate and an 88-90 mph fastball on the mound. He also runs the 60-yard dash in 6.7 seconds.
RHP Craig Heyer (10), drafted by the Diamondbacks in the 36th round last year, is typical of the remaining CCSN players under control. All are lower-round prospects who could get bonuses in the $25,000-$40,000 range. Heyer is lean and projectable with a fastball that typically ranges from the upper 80s to low 90s.Division I Colleges, High Schools Don't Measure Up
Though Southern Nevada could lose picks for this year's draft if its draft-and-follows sign, its impact should still be greater than Nevada or Nevada-Las Vegas, with the notable exception being Hayes.
Six-foot-5, 225-pound RHP Matt Luca (4) is the best of an ordinary lot at UNLV, but he did not pitch to expectations this year as he was slowed by injuries. After Luca earned a Major League Scouting Bureau grade of 55 off a strong performance in the Cape Cod League last summer, scouts expected to see the same 90-94 mph fastball he threw a year ago; instead they got 88-90, with an occasional 92. Luca’s drop in velocity was reflected in his strikeout total. He fanned 99 in 86 innings in 2004, but just 53 in 78 innings in 2005. Luca’s best pitch remains his curveball.
RHP Derek Rodriguez (7), who transferred to UNLV from Arizona for his senior year, has the best fastball on the Runnin’ Rebels staff, an easy 90-94 mph offering. He got knocked around as a starter, going just 4-5, 5.44 with a .331 opponent average, because he only had a slider to complement his fastball. His stuff is better suited to short relief, and he has the durable arm to adapt to that role.
Senior SS Zeke Parraz (9) is the older brother of Jordan Parraz, a third-round pick of the Astros a year ago out of CCSN. His best tool is arm strength, like his brother, though he also led the Rebels in RBIs. He might not remain at shortstop because his range is just average.
OF Jacob Butler (11) is a better pure hitter than Hayes, and led Nevada with a .340 average. He’s a below-average defender, but should be a good senior sign on his bat alone. OF Shawn Scobee (14) has never lived up to expectations--either at Cal State Fullerton, where he spent his first two years, or at Nevada--after being drafted by the Cubs in the fifth round out of high school. He has huge power and is capable of unloading tape-measure home runs, but also has a lot of holes in an uppercut swing. He has poor pitch recognition, particularly on breaking stuff. In 153 at-bats this year, he fanned 59 times.
Cimarron Memorial High RHP Mark Willinsky ranked alongside Rasner as Nevada’s best high school prospect at the start of the year, but the 92-93 mph fastball he had as a sophomore and junior leveled off to the high 80s. With Willinsky’s fall, 6-foot-4 OF Chris Carter (12) moved to the head of the Las Vegas high school class. He has athletic ability and raw power, but lacks baseball instincts.