Arizona Scouting Reports
|THIS YEAR'S CROP|
|*****||One for the books|
|***||Solid, not spectacular|
|**||Not up to par|
|*||Nothing to see here|
The best talent in Arizona was concentrated at Yavapai Junior College, alma mater of Curt Schilling and home of 10 players under control as 2005 draft-and-follows. How many of those players sign before the closed period begins and their 2005 teams lose their negotiating rights--particularly high-end talents such as Milton Loo and Shane Keough--will determine how much of an impact Arizona makes on the 2006 draft. Health also will be a key factor, as the top prospect in the state, righthander Mark Melancon, will not have thrown for nearly two months when the draft finally rolls around due to an elbow injury.
|National Top 200 Prospects|
1. Mark Melancon, rhp, Arizona
2. Milton Loo, 3b, Yavapai JC (CONTROL: Reds)
3. Jason Jarvis, rhp, Chaparral HS, Scottsdale
4. Brad Mills, lhp, Arizona
5. Zech Zinicola, rhp, Arizona State
6. Charles Brewer, rhp, Chaparral HS, Scottsdale
7. Jason Donald, ss, Arizona
8. Colin Curtis, of, Arizona State
9. Bryan Casey, rhp/3b, Arizona Western CC (CONTROL: Royals)
10. Shane Keough, of, Yavapai JC (CONTROL: Athletics)
11. Tony Barnette, rhp, Arizona State
12. Khris Davis, of, Deer Valley HS, Glendale
13. Brett Bordes, lhp, Arizona State
14. Pat Bresnehan, rhp, Arizona State
15. Ronnie Welty, of, Mesquite HS, Gilbert
16. Scott Mueller, rhp, South Mountain JC (CONTROL: Diamondbacks)
17. Jonathan Del Campo, ss, Cibola HS, Yuma
18. Andrew Conklin, rhp, South Mountain CC
19. Chris Vinyard, 1b, Chandler-Gilbert CC (CONTROL: Orioles)
20. Dustin Kaats, of/if, Yavapai JC (CONTROL: Marlins)
21. Dillon Baird, ss, Prescott HS
22. Brad Boyer, util, Arizona
23. Robbie Nickols, lhp, Pima CC (CONTROL: Reds)
24. Bill Rhinehart, of, Arizona
25. Garrett Johnson, lhp, Orme School, Mayer
26. J.R. Murphy, rhp, Yavapai JC (CONTROL: Angels)
27. Joey Rosas, lhp, Yavapai JC
28. Jason Stacy, rhp, Central Arizona CC (CONTROL: Phillies)
29. Reid Kelly, rhp, Chandler-Gilbert CC (CONTROL: Astros)
30. Tayler Lewis, rhp, Canyon del Oro HS, Oro Valley
31. Dustin Brader, rhp, South Mountain CC
32. C.J. Ziegler, 1b, Pima CC
33. Michael Roskopf, 1b, Yavapai JC (CONTROL: Yankees)
34. Rudy Owens, lhp/of, Mesa HS
35. Tim Dennehy, lhp, Chandler-Gilbert CC (CONTROL: Indians)
36. Troy Hanzawah, ss, Yavapai JC
37. Cory Bannister, rhp, Chaparral HS, Scottsdale1. Mark Melancon, rhp
(National rank: 35)School:
A heavy college workload, particularly on a struggling 2006 team, finally caught up to Melancon, clouding an otherwise rosy draft picture for one of the best arms available. He set an Arizona freshman record in 2004, pitching in 29 games as he helped the Wildcats to the College World Series, and set a single-season record with 11 saves in 2005. His team struggled this season, though, with Melancon working longer stints to try to stretch a thin pitching staff. He had not pitched since feeling elbow pain April 7, and an MRI exam revealed a strained elbow ligament. He doesn't need surgery but he was not expected to pitch again before the draft. Melancon showed scouts plenty before getting hurt, sitting in the 92-95 mph range with good life on his fastball. He can pitch up in the zone with his heater to set up a 12-to-6 downer curve, a power pitch that at times sits in the 84-85 mph range. The delivery that helps create the quality power stuff also put stress on his elbow, though, and limits him to a future in the bullpen. If he can show he's healthy, Melancon could be the first college closer drafted, as early as late in the first round.2. Milton Loo, 3b/ss
(National rank: 64)School:
Yavapai (Ariz.) JC. Class:
Loo was the first prep player picked out of Hawaii in 2004, and he's been the best prospect in Arizona's wood-bat junior-college conference the last two seasons. He had led Yavapai to a 49-10 record and No. 2 national ranking into early May, though he wasn't the team's best player statistically. Loo, whose native island of Molokai has no stoplights, entices scouts with a five-tool potential. Though his present power remains below-average, his ability to cover the plate, make consistent, hard contact and repeat his short stroke make makes hitting his best tool, and his raw power could profile him for third base. He moved to that position at Yavapai, but scouts agree he could play short or any other infield position as a pro thanks to above-average arm strength, excellent athleticism, good range and solid infield actions. If Loo's effort and performance were more consistent, he'd rank among the nation's top position players. He's a plus runner and solid baserunner but doesn't run out ground balls as often as scouts want to see. After being bothered by a strained thumb and gimpy ankle in 2005, Loo missed time late this spring when his elbow flared up. It was diagnosed as nerve irritation, and he returned to DH in the postseason. Loo's durability will factor into whether the Reds--who reportedly offered him more than $200,000 last summer--make another run at him.
3. Jason Jarvis, rhp
(National rank: 74)
Chaparral HS. Class:
A year ago--when the rotation included Austin Yount (nephew of Robin) and Ike Davis (son of Ron)--Jarvis was a complimentary part of the rotation at Chaparral High, which won its third consecutive Arizona state 4-A championship. This spring, Jarvis went to the mound as the Firebirds' ace. He won all 12 of his decisions, with No. 12 coming on three days' rest in the state title game. Jarvis' arm strength made the move a natural despite his power and solid defensive ability. His athleticism, projectable frame and present stuff have moved him up the charts. He used a 92-93 mph fastball (which generally sits in the 88-90 range) and improved slider to dominate opponents. He also showed aptitude for a changeup and has gotten bigger and stronger this year, holding his stuff deep into games. Teams don't want a repeat of 2005, when the University of San Diego kept its top recruit out of Arizona, lefthander Brian Matusz, even though he was the Angels' fourth-round pick. But Jarvis has put out the word to scouts that he won't sign cheaply. Scouts also have questions about Jarvis' maturity. In spite of the question marks, though, scouts expect a team to take Jarvis in the first five rounds.4. Brad Mills, lhp
(National rank: 115)School:
After starting his college career as a recruited walk-on, Mills has emerged as the top starting pitcher for Arizona's last-place club in the Pacific-10 Conference and one of the better college lefthanders in the draft. He had made 28 appearances (covering just 23 innings) over his first two seasons but established himself as a prospect to watch last summer, when he dominated the summer collegiate Valley League. While he struck out 75 in just 46 innings for Harrisonburg last summer, he's not a strikeout pitcher. Mills has worked hard to improve his fastball velocity over the years and now has an average (88-90) fastball that can touch 92. His changeup is a legitimate out pitch, an above-average offering. He needs to improve the arm speed on his breaking ball, which gets loopy and vacillates between being a slider or curveball. Mills' work ethic and track record of improvement has scouts believing his can improve the breaking ball and become a No. 4 or No. 5 starter. He's not expected to make it out of the third round.
5. Zech Zinicola, rhp (National rank: 123)
School: Arizona State. Class: Jr.
Hometown: San Bernadino, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 215. Birthdate: 3/2/85.
Scouting Report: Most college players live on campus as freshmen; Zinicola lived in a mobile home his parents brought from California. The oldest of six children, Zinicola is both a free spirit and a bulldog, particularly out of the bullpen, where he's shown closer moxie and led the Sun Devils in saves the last two seasons. Some scouts believe he's eccentric, while others see an immature player who won't play by the rules. He missed one weekend this spring with an academic suspension, and he's considered signable. An unsigned 44th-round pick out of high school (Braves), Zinicola spent his first two seasons both hitting and pitching, but in 2006 he had only one at-bat and settled into the bullpen after two starts. His stuff plays well in a relief role, as he's pumped his low 90s fastball as high as 95 mph while showing an average changeup with split-finger action. His slider remains inconsistent, and to be a big league closer Zinicola will have to hit his spots more consistently.
6. Charles Brewer, rhp (National rank: 116)
School: Chaparral HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Prescott, Ariz.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 4/7/88.
Scouting Report: Brewer, undefeated in his prep career, joins Jason Jarvis and Cory Bannister (the youngest son of former big leaguer Floyd Bannister) in the Chaparral rotation and has helped the team win four straight Class 4-A Division I championships in Arizona. While Brewer was hitting .450 as a first baseman, he's seen as a pitcher by pro scouts and by UCLA, where he has committed to play in college. He has a lanky frame with wide shoulders and a prototypical pitcher's body, and he's shown the ability to keep his fastball down in the strike zone. Brewer's heater touches 90 mph, though he's not strong enough to maintain his velocity deep into games and pitches more at 87-88. He has good control and could have average or above-average command in the future. Brewer's curveball needs work (he's worked on the pitch under former big leaguer Steve Ontiveros' tutelage), and he's shown flashes of a good changeup, his best secondary pitch. He oozes projection and is considered signable as long as he's drafted early. Money is not expected to be a major consideration for Brewer, whose family lives in the same neighborhood as Yankees lefthander Randy Johnson, with whom he has thrown in the Big Unit's offseasons.
7. Jason Donald, ss (National rank: 150)
School: Arizona. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Clovis, Calif.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: 9/4/85.
Scouting Report: Donald turned down a significant bonus out of high school, though the size of the bonus has grown as the tale has spread through the scouting grapevine. It was south of the $1 million some have speculated about. Whatever the bonus offer was, however, Donald will be hard-pressed to match it after failing to significantly improve his pro profile in college. He helped Arizona to the 2004 College World Series and hit .272 in the Cape Cod League in 2005, and scouts praise Donald's makeup. He's a gamer with one above-average tool, his plus throwing arm. Otherwise, his tools grade out average or below (speed), and his swing can get long and slow. He probably lacks the range to be an everyday shortstop in pro ball, though his smarts and hands could allow him to get by. Overall, Donald has a utilityman's skills and tools with an everyday pricetag and Scott Boras as an adviser. Position scarcity still could result in Donald being drafted in the first five rounds.
8. Colin Curtis, of (National rank: 151)
School: Arizona State. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Issaquah, Wash.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 204. Birthdate: 2/1/85.
Scouting Report: Scouts root for Curtis, who survived a 1999 bout with testicular cancer to become an impact high school football player. He was an instant starter on the baseball team at Arizona State as a freshman and played an important role in the Sun Devils' 2005 College World Series team, going 8-for-11 in Omaha. Yet Curtis' tools have either leveled off or gone backward as his body has grown. Once considered a fast-twitch athlete, he now elicits comments such as "stiff" and "slow" from scouts and Pac-10 coaches. A smart, aggressive baserunner and efficient basestealer, he's now an average runner rather than plus. His bat also has slowed down, so his larger size hasn't resulted in more power. He hasn't driven the ball consistently, and overall his modest juinor year (.332) has reminded scouts of the draft-itis that hampered former teammate Jeff Larish. Like Larish, he was making a late charge with his performance and is a Scott Boras client, both making it tough to tell where he'll be drafted. Curtis hit .323 in the Cape Cod League last summer, and a team that saw him good last summer could still pop him in the first five rounds.
9. Bryan Casey, rhp/3b (National rank: 179)
School: Arizona Western JC. Class: Fr.
Hometown: Yuma, Ariz.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: 6/5/86.
Scouting Report: Coaches and area scouts admired Casey for his strong season at Arizona Western, which he has attended for two years, and many considered him the No. 2 junior college prospect in the state after Yavapai's Milton Loo. The Orioles drafted Casey in the 43rd round in 2004 as a catcher out of Yuma's Kofa High, and Casey both caught and pitched in 2005. The Royals drafted him last year, and his pitching (and bat) came alive this spring when he moved to third base when not pitching. Casey has a strong body that makes several clubs interested in him as a position player; he hit .382 and ranked among league leaders in batting, home runs, total bases and hits this spring. He could be an outstanding two-way college player and had committed to Ed Sprague's program at Pacific. But most scouts, reticent to talk about players under control to other clubs, didn't expect Casey to be an amateur much longer. His 92-93 mph fastball touched 95 at times this season, and he was still in the 90s in the seventh inning of work (he threw 95 pitches) in an 18-inning playoff loss. His slider is a solid secondary pitch, and he controls both pitches due to his excellent athletic ability. Casey's delivery has some effort to it, so he profiles as a reliever, but he could be an impact closer if he continues to show aptitude on the mound.
10. Shane Keough, of (National rank: 198)Young Teams Leave Colleges Low On Premium Picks
School: Yavapai (Ariz.) JC. Class: Fr.
Hometown: Cota de Caza, Calif.
B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: 9/11/86.
Scouting Report: Keough's father Matt, a major league all-star in 1978, won 58 big league games during a nine-year career spent primarily with the Athletics. Uncle Joe played parts of six big league seasons, while grandfather Marty played more than 800 big league games in the 1950s and '60s. Matt Keough is a special assistant to A's general manager Billy Beane, and the A's drafted his son in 2005. Yet Shane's mother Jeana has gained higher notoriety. Currently starring in Bravo TV's reality show, "The Real Housewives of Orange County," the former Jeana Tomasina made her name as a Playboy Playmate in the 1980s and for her role as one of ZZ Top's "Muses" who appeared in the rock band's iconic music videos. Shane Keough has appeared in the reality show, and in reality he's not quite as good a prospect as the show has portrayed him to be. He does have exciting tools that have invited comparisons to Steve Finley thanks to his lithe, athletic frame. The state's top draft-eligible athlete, Keough is an above-average runner, covering 60 yards in 6.5 seconds, and a switch-hitter with solid-average power, particularly from the right side. His long legs and gliding stride make him a potential plus defender with enough arm for center field. His arm has improved nearly two grades since the fall as he adjusts to a longer arm stroke, making it a fringe-average tool. Keough has far less polish than his baseball background would suggest. He missed two years of high school ball due to academics and a broken collarbone, and his approach at the plate remains raw as a result. Keough made adjustments as the year went on, cutting down on his strikeouts, but he still swings and misses too much. Nevertheless, his tools stand out in a year short on position player and could land him in the first five rounds if he doesn't sign with his dad's organization.
Arizona has improved its talent level and success under coach Andy Lopez, who arrived in 2003 and got the Wildcats to Omaha in 2004. The program took a step back in 2006 in terms of its win-loss record as Lopez worked with 17 freshmen on the roster. While three players mentioned above should be significant draft picks--Jason Donald, Mark Melancon and Brad Mills--three other Wildcats figure to be selected, and all three had their best college seasons as freshmen. Infielder Brad Boyer's
best attributes are his speed and versatility, as he's played the outfield, second and third base in college. His best bet is to be a utility player. Junior outfielder Bill Rhinehart
has a solid bat and hits lefthanded. He has no standout tool, isn't selective and has performed modestly since his freshman year as well, hitting nine home runs since then after hitting seven in 2004. Many scouts would like him better as a senior sign and aren't sure they want to buy him out of his last year of college. Senior outfielder Derek Decater
has tools as good or better than both Boyer and Rhinehart and is another lefthanded hitter, but he has had even less success offensively.
Arizona State also has a young lineup and endured a tumultuous season, with recruiting coordinator and top assistant Jay Sferra leaving his job in the middle of the Pacific-10 Conference slate, while closer Zech Zinicola was suspended for a series for academics. Nevetheless, coach Pat Murphy continued to keep the Sun Devils in the Pac-10 and regional mix, and one reason was his bullpen depth. Righthander Tony Barnette
and lefthander Brett Bordes
had the best arms among college pitchers in the state after Melancon, Mills and Zinicola. Barnette's college career includes an incongruous 9-2 record and 6.20 ERA, but he has power stuff. He has improved his control of an 89-92 mph fastball that tops out at 93 (though it gets straight when he throws it harder) and a solid-average slider. He still lacks a consistent offspeed pitch, leading him to spend most of his two years at Arizona State pitching in relief. Barnette's 6-foot-2, 177-pound frame and loose arm have scouts hoping he has more projection than the average senior. Bordes also pitched better as a reliever and figures to go much higher than he did in 2005, when the Tigers popped him in the 24th round. He has lowered his arm slot since arriving at ASU and gained good sinking movement on his fastball, which at times sits at 91 mph. He has improved his ability to throw quality strikes with the pitch and is durable. If Bordes had a consistent breaking pitch, he'd move quickly into a lefty relief role. His breaking ball has tightened up since last year, but it remains a below-average slurve, and Bordes attacks righthanded hitters better than he does lefthanded hitters.
Both senior Sun Devils should go better than touted junior Pat Bresnehan
, whose performance has not matched the potential forecast for him out of a Massachusetts high school. Bresnahan has a power body and a fastball that reaches 93 mph (particularly when he pitches in relief), but his stuff flattens out too often, and he has lost his feel for the strike zone as a junior.
The only other four-year college player in the state expected to go on the first day of the draft is lefthander Matt Michael
of Division II independent Grand Canyon. A two-way player for the Antelopes, Michael was one of the team's leading hitters as a first baseman but has potential as a reliever thanks to his arm strength. He has an unconventional, over-the-top delivery that pumps fastballs up to 90-91 mph, though he's more consistently 86-87. Michael's delivery gives him deception but makes his other stuff fringy.Juco Talent Runs Deep
While Yavapai hadn't reached the Junior College World Series since 1993, Curt Schilling's alma mater had one of its best teams since then in 2006 and finally ended the drought. The Riders won 54 of their first 64 games with a team that had 10 players under control to major league organizations. Because they will play in the Juco World Series, those players will have a shorter window to sign with the clubs that drafted them but will still be eligible to sign even during the closed period.
While Milton Loo was the best prospect among them, he wasn't the Riders' best player statistically, nor was he the only Rider with potential impact tools. Outfielders Dustin Kaats
, Shane Keough and Evan LeBlanc
vied with Loo in those regards. LeBlanc, a freshman, was the best hitter on the team statistically, batting .454 in the regular season to lead the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference by a wide margin. Scouts consider him better suited to honor his commitment to Santa Clara than to enter pro ball. Kaats, a Marlins draft-and-follow, has impressive strength (a team-best eight homers) for a former second baseman and profiles as a solid utility player. His older brother played at Grand Canyon, and Dustin is seen as a baseball rat.
Riders first baseman Mike Roskopf
(a Yankees draft-and-follow) and shortstop Tommy Hanzawah
, who has drawn comparisons to former U of A star Keoni DeRenne, are considered solid college options who could be drafted late. Roskopf has lefthanded power without the bat speed for pro ball; Hanzawah is a plus defender who needs to get stronger offensively. Rangers draft-and-follow Kevin Gossage
, son of former all-star Goose, was a third baseman and pitcher in high school and has had trouble adjusting to being a catcher. He appears headed back to Yavapai for a second year.
Yavapai also had solid options on the mound, led by lefthander Joey Rosas
, who was not under control, and righthander J.R. Murphy
(Rangers). While Murphy, a solid competitor with average to fringe-average stuff, should join Hanzawah at San Diego State next season, Rosas has a chance to be a first-day draft. Slight at 6-feet, 160 pounds, he has a loose arm with pitchability and a mid-80s fastball that touches 90 mph at times. He controls his breaking ball and changeup and throws quality strikes. How much projection is left for his slight frame is up for debate.
Closer Derek Tarapacki
(Blue Jays) had been effective with an 88-91 mph fastball out of a low three-quarters arm slot, has good size (6-foot-3, 190) and might get enough from the Jays to keep him from fulfilling his Nevada-Las Vegas commitment. Righty Tyler Backus
(Royals), whose profile is similar to Murphy's but with less polish and velocity, is the other Rider under control who could get drafted if he doesn't sign.
Yavapai does not have a monopoly on the juco talent in the state, as evidenced by Bryan Casey. The next-best choices include pitchers Scott Mueller
and Andrew Conklin
and first baseman Chris Vinyard
. If Vinyard were athletic enough to play a position other than first base, the Orioles would have themselves a find. Vinyard has plus power to all fields and can hit as well, making consistent contact and keeping his strikeouts reasonable. One scout rated his raw power and hitting ability as above-average. The problem is where he profiles. He's a righthanded-hitting and throwing first baseman, and has a heavy body and below-average speed that prevent the outfield from being a reasonable option. He's committed to UNC Greensboro.
Mueller has solid arm strength and throws 89-91 mph with his fastball, but his secondary stuff remains fringy. South Mountain teammate Dustin Brader
, who trimmed up his body considerably this season, has a lesser fastball (85-89 mph) but a better feel for pitching. Brader isn't under control and may get a look after posting a 91-18 strikeout-walk ratio in 82 innings. Their teammate Conklin has shown a fastball up to 93 mph from a low three-quarters arm slot but is much more hittable because he doesn't have a second pitch. His frisbee slider lacks depth and consistency.
Mueller and Conklin are at the front of a group of solid pitching prospects that also includes Reed Kelly
, Vinyard's Chandler-Gilbert teammate who has solid command of a four-pitch arsenal and a loose, projectable arm. His smallish frame and fringy velocity make his package modest by pro standards.Prep Crop Lacks Depth
Arizona's high school talent has been down more often than up of late, a puzzling development considering the state's burgeoning population. Scouts estimated just five to seven Arizona high school players would be drafted as more than just draft-and-follows.
Four-time state champion Chaparral High sets the pace with righthanders Jason Jarvis and Charles Brewer, the two top pitchers in the state. The club's No. 3 starter, righthander Cory Bannister
, is the third son of former big leaguer and Arizona State star Floyd Bannister. His older brothers went to Southern California, and oldest brother Brian is a big leaguer with the Mets. Cory has committed to Stanford, and that's common of most of the top Arizona prep players--he has committed to a school out of state.
Outfielder Khris Davis
, a Cal State Fullerton signee, is the best high school hitter in Arizona from a pro standpoint, but opinion is mixed on how ready he is for pro ball. His father Rodney has a long background in baseball, having played at Fresno State and in the Dodgers organization. He also scouted and is now a coach in the Angels system. His son is a good athlete and covers 60 yards in 6.8 seconds, and has shown hitting ability as well. He helped lead Deer Valley High to a state championship, scoring the game-winning run and knocking in the other run with a sacrifice fly. Davis has said he is willing to sign if drafted in the first three rounds, and might find the right fit if he finds a club that believes in his power. His below-average arm and below-average power make him a tweener for many scouts, and a club will have to believe in his power to keep him from playing for the Titans. One scout said the best comparison for Davis is Jay Payton, and Davis was gaining momentum after hitting a long home run in a game played at the Brewers' spring-training complex in Maryvale.
Three other hitters had attracted scouts' attention this spring, including outfielder Ronnie Welty
of Mesquite High. A Kansas State signee, Welty is a late bloomer with a skinny 6-foot-4, 180-pound body and leverage in his swing, which gives him above-average power potential. Welty also has a plus arm and is fairly athletic, and his 13 home runs ranked fifth in the state. He's a better all-around player than shortstops Jonathan Del Campo
and Dillon Baird
, both of whom showed enough hitting ability to attract scouts' attention.
Del Campo, considered one of the surest bets to sign in the state, doesn't have much power but switch-hits and has the arm strength to play the left side of the diamond. If his power doesn't develop, he may fit better at second. Baird has more offensive potential than Del Campo, but his athleticism comes up short. Some scouts project him as a left fielder or first baseman due to his bat (he slammed 12 homers this spring) and lack of speed. He has a polished approach at the plate and a sound lefthanded swing as well as arm strength that is at least average. At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Baird should get bigger and stronger and could be an intriguing draft-and-follow, as he'd signed with Yavapai.
Lefthander Garrett Johnson
moved to Arizona this year when his stepfather became the head of the private Orme School. Johnson led Orme to the state finals in basketball but has more upside in baseball because he packs just 205 pounds on his 6-foot-10 frame. Johnson's fastball sits in the 82-85 mph range, but his size creates plenty of deception for hitters and plenty of interest for scouts. He's fairly athletic but is still figuring baseball out. He's likely a draft-and-follow candidate.