Oregon Scouting Reports
|THIS YEAR'S CROP|
|*****||One for the books|
|***||Solid, not spectacular|
|**||Not up to par|
|*||Nothing to see here|
Oregon State was on its way to its second straight Pacific-10 Conference championship, and the Beavers were doing it despite a down year by their top prospect, righthander Dallas Buck. The Beavers are a veteran-dominated team and should have at least six players drafted. Those numbers help make up for a down year in the state's high schools, whose top prospect, outfielder Drew Rundle, also had a rough spring.
|National Top 200 Prospects|
1. Dallas Buck, rhp, Oregon State
2. Drew Rundle, of, Bend HS
3. Cole Gillespie, of, Oregon State
4. Kevin Gunderson, lhp, Oregon State
5. Mitch Canham, c/3b, Oregon State
6. Jonah Nickerson, rhp, Oregon State
7. Nick Waechter, rhp, Western Oregon State
8. Tyrell Poggemeyer, rhp, Pleasant Hill HS
9. Tyler Graham, of, Oregon State
10. Jerad Thompson, rhp, Churchill HS, Eugene
11. Austin Dirkx, rhp, Portland
12. Joey Wong, ss/2b, Sprague HS, Salem
13. Blake Keitzman, lhp, Roseburg HS
14. Derrick Jones, rhp, George Fox
1. Dallas Buck, rhp (National rank: 48)
School: Oregon State. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Newberg, Ore.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Birthdate: 11/11/84.
Scouting Report: No pitcher elicits more head-scratches in the West than Buck, who has gone from hard-throwing bad boy to soft-tossing, innings-eating warrior. A former special-teams player for Oregon State's football team, Buck is one of the draft's better athletes, and his athletic ability and competitiveness have helped him pitch through a dead-arm period that has sapped his velocity. While Buck won his first nine decisions for the Pacific-10 Conference-leading Beavers, his fastball registered in the 82-87 mph range after sitting around 89-91 mph last season and touching 94. A mid-April MRI showed a sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament, with no tear. He had three solid starts with improved velocity thereafter, but slid back in mid-May to the mid-80s. Without his velocity, Buck has relied on adding sink to his fastball, spotting it better and outwitting hitters with his slider and changeup, both average pitches. While his mound demeanor has turned off scouts in the past, his willingness to compete without his best stuff has offset many makeup concerns. If his velocity returns, Buck should be better than ever, having learned to pitch in its absence.
2. Drew Rundle, of(National rank: 106)
School: Bend HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Bend, Ore.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 160. Birthdate: 11/5/87.
Scouting Report: Two Oregon-bred outfielders went in the first round in 2005, but both Portland's Trevor Crowe and Madras' Jacoby Ellsbury were drafted out of college, not high school. Rundle entered the spring with a chance to join them as first-rounders after a strong summer on the showcase circuit, where he showed the ability to hit off top-flight pitchers in his draft class with good velocity. That momentum didn't carry over to the spring, though, and his hopes for being drafted highly rest primarily on his athletic ability and his performance last summer. Rundle has changed his approach this spring, spreading out at the plate (with a stance similar to Jim Edmonds') to gain better plate coverage. He's not strong enough to generate power from the stance and had only one homer all spring as the draft approached. Unlike Edmonds (or burners Crowe and Ellsbury), Rundle doesn't profile as a center fielder even though he's a present average runner, so scouts are seeing a corner outfielder who isn't showing present power. He has average arm strength, and scouts who like him point out he hasn't seen much to hit all spring. An Arizona recruit as was Crowe before him, he's expected to go off the board in the first five rounds.
3. Cole Gillespie, of(National rank: 122)Down Year For Oregon Preps
School: Oregon State. Class: Jr.
Hometown: West Linn, Ore.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: .
Scouting Report: The best hitter on Oregon State's first-place team in the Pacific-10 Conference, Gillespie has improved his draft stock considerably this season. Scouts regularly describe him as a hard-nosed player who doesn't have a glaring weakness and has solid tools across the board. He impressed scouts last year by playing both infield corner spots and has spent a lot of time in center field in 2006, filling in for the injured Tyler Graham. His versatility and solid bat may lead him to become a valuable utility player in the future. Gillespie's arm is fringe-average, and he's a solid athlete and runner. His bat is his best tool, as scouts consider his hit tool average or slightly above-average. While he has considered switch-hitting in the past, he has a sound righthanded swing that generates average power and allows him to catch up to good fastballs, as he did when he hit a homer off Tim Lincecum in May. Gillespie has had left shoulder problems in the past and doesn't do anything pretty, but his performance in a draft shy on college hitters was expected to earn him a spot in the first five rounds.
Oregon high schools would get one star if rated on their own, and if not for Rundle, who had a disappointing season but was still expected to be drafted high after a strong summer. The next-best bets to get drafted are righthanders Tyrell Poggemeyer
, a raw, projectable athlete who also catches for his high school team, and Jerad Thompson
, who has a loose arm that came up sore late in the season after he had improved his velocity into the upper 80s. Poggemeyer, an Oregon State signee, should go higher because of his athletic ability (he's a solid basketball player as well) and arm strength. He was still throwing in the 87-88 mph range despite catching much of the season. Thompson hadn't pitched since mid-April due to elbow soreness. No other prep players were expected to hear their names on the first day of the draft.
Buck and Gillespie top the state's college contingent, followed by teammates Kevin Gunderson
, Jonah Nickerson
and Tyler Graham
. That group should also include sophomore-eligible Mitch Canham
. In just his second year as a catcher, Canham might be the most intriguing player of the second group because he's athletic, bats lefthanded and has become a serviceable receiver with a strong arm. He consistently posts 1.95-second times to second base on his throws, and he could be an average defender behind the plate with experience. A poorly timed slump dropped Canham's batting numbers in May, but he was rallying late and had virtually identical numbers to his redshirt freshman season. He missed his first year after surgery to shave down a bone in his right arm, which was longer than his left arm. Some scouts didn't think Canham's bat would be worth the money to buy him out of two years of college.
Gunderson is the safest remaining Oregon State pick as a small lefty with three pitches he can throw for strikes. His stuff isn't as firm as it was last year. His fastball has sat in the 86-89 mph range and rarely hits the low 90s, which it touched consistently last season. His slider has gone backward as well, and he has compensated by showing improved control of his fastball and a solid-average changeup. Despite the dip in stuff, he was among NCAA Division I leaders with 15 saves. Gunderson also is a team leader and durable despite his small stature. He profiles as a lefty reliever if his slider comes back.
Graham is the best runner in the state when healthy, putting up times that merit 80 grades (on the 20-80 scouting scale) from scouts. But he has had hamstring problems all season. Even when healthy last season, Graham had just six extra-base hits and profiles as an extra outfielder. Short (6-foot-1) righthander Nickerson has a better chance to go good with four fringe-average pitchess: fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup. He has control of his entire arsenal, though his walk rate was up and he'd been more hittable in 2006 than he was as a sophomore. Like Gunderson a member of USA Baseball's college national team last summer, Nickerson pitches smart and has a plan, which should at least get him through A-ball. His positive exposure with Team USA last summer should get him off the board in the first 10 rounds.
Division III George Fox senior Derrick Jones
merits mention after making all-conference as both a hitter and pitcher. His tools don't inspire pro scouts, who prefer righthander Nick Waechter
of Western Oregon. Waechter has some projection in his body, an average fastball that could gain a tick or two as he matures, and a solid-average slider. The combination made him 12-0 this season, the league's pitching triple crown winner and the winningest pitcher in the history of the Great Northwestern Athletic Conference. Righthander Austin Dirkx
will be the University of Portland's top draftee, a reliever with a solid-average sinker and slider.