Scouting Reports: Arizona

2007 MLB Draft Arizona had two of the nation's elite high school teams this season in Horizon High and Brophy Prep, both in the Phoenix area. The two 5-A schools matched up for the state championship, with the state's top prospect, Horizon righthander Tim Alderson, striking out 13 in a gutty, complete-game 9-6 victory, and Horizon was ranked fourth (with Brophy seventh) in the last BA High School Top 50.

*****One for the books
****Banner year
***Solid, not spectacular
**Not up to par
*Nothing to see here
Arizona State and rival Arizona also had done well in the national Division I college rankings, and the Sun Devils won the Pacific-10 Conference title for the first time since 2000. Both teams should have an impact on the 2007 draft but will make a bigger impact in 2008, with exceptionally strong sophomore classes.

National Top 200 Prospects

1. Tim Alderson, rhp, Horizon HS, Scottsdale, Ariz.
2. Kevin Rhoderick, rhp, Horizon HS, Scottsdale, Ariz.
3. Daniel Schlereth, lhp, Arizona
4. Tim Smith, of, Arizona State
5. Brad Mills, lhp, Arizona
6. Eric Sogard, 2b, Arizona State
7. Andrew Romine, ss, Arizona State
8. Matt Spencer, of/lhp, Arizona State

Other Prospects Of Note

9. Devin Fuller, rhp, Gilbert HS, Chandler, Ariz.
10. Eric Berger, lhp, Arizona
11. Kyle Brule, rhp, Marcos De Niza HS, Chandler, Ariz.
12. Brian Flores, lhp, Arizona State
13. Justin Harper, rhp, Yavapai (Ariz.) JC
14. Tim Dennehy, lhp, Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) CC (CONTROL: Yankees)
15. Rudy Owens, lhp, Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) CC (CONTROL: Pirates)
16. Ryan Cisterna, c, Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) CC (CONTROL: Royals)
17. Jake Schlander, ss/2b, Chaparral HS, Scottsdale, Ariz.
18. Josh Spence, lhp, Central Arizona JC
19. Sammy Solis, lhp, Agua Fria HS, Litchfield Park, Ariz.
20. Joey Rosas, lhp, Yavapai (Ariz.) JC
21. Ronnie Welty, of, Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) CC
22. Mickey McConnell, ss, Dobson HS, Mesa, Ariz.
23. Patrick McCoy, lhp, Sahuaro HS, Tucson
24. C.J. Ziegler, 1b, Arizona
25. Mike Jones, of, Arizona State
26. Gary Gattis, rhp, Yavapai (Ariz.) JC
27. David Coulon, lhp, Arizona
28. Neil Medchill, 1b, Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) JC
29. Tony Strazzara, ss, Brophy Prep, Phoenix
30. Dillon Baird, ss, Yavapai (Ariz.) JC
31. Steven Salas, rhp, Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) CC
32. Manuel Barreda, rhp, Sahuarita (Ariz.) HS
33. Matt Newman, of, Brophy Prep, Phoenix
34. Bill Rhinehart, of, Arizona
35. Josh Satow, lhp, Arizona State

Scouting Reports

1. Tim Alderson, rhp (National rank: 33)
School: Horizon HS, Scottsdale, Ariz. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-7. Wt.: 208. Birthdate: 11/3/88.
Scouting Report: Alderson has had a high profile for awhile, and he has handled pressure well throughout his career. He was on the mound when USA Baseball's junior national team lost to Korea in the gold-medal game of the World Junior Championship last September, but he thrived with the team, striking out 12 in eight innings without allowing an earned run. In mid-May, he threw a complete game to help Horizon High win the Arizona 5-A championship, as he allowed 13 hits in a 9-6 victory but still struck out 13. (It was the second state-title victory of his career, as he also went five innings for a victory as a sophomore.) Pitching exclusively out of the stretch, Alderson repeats his mechanics, and they allow him to fill up the strike zone, to the tune of a 34-inning streak without a walk this season. It's unheard-of command for a 6-foot-7 prep pitcher. In one May start, he threw 61 strikes out of 72 pitches. However, Alderson goes full tilt on pretty much every pitch, lands hard on his front leg and gets little extension in his delivery. Scouts are split on his future role, but most consider him a reliever even though he already has two plus pitches and throws both for strikes in routine fashion. Most contend he would not hold up physically or mechanically as a starter over 200 innings, yet his stuff is so good at present--90-92 mph fastball that touches 94, 78-80 mph curveball and the makings of an average changeup--that they hesitate to recommend changing what makes him so attractive now. His stuff and track record say "first-round pick" but the projected future role--Like college closers? Try drafting a high school closer--likely knocks him out of the first round.

2. Kevin Rhoderick, rhp (National rank: 125)
School: Horizon HS, Scottsdale, Ariz. Class: Sr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 8/19/88.
Scouting Report: Short righthanders' struggles in the draft have been well documented, but the ones who can get scouts' attention have athleticism, quick arms and big velocity. Rhoderick fits those descriptions and has had success, helping his taller teammate, 6-foot-7 righty Tim Alderson, lead Horizon High to its second Arizona state 5-A title in three seasons. He also was Alderson's teammate for USA Baseball's junior national team last fall. In an early-season intersquad scrimmage, Rhoderick and Alderson were the pitchers on the mound, and Rhoderick had better present stuff. He has arm speed you can't teach and throws harder more consistently than Alderson. He throws a fastball that at times sits in the 92-94 mph range and rarely dips below 90, and generates good downward plane on the pitch despite his lack of height. His slider and changeup have potential, but he succeeds more off his aggressiveness and fastball than by fooling hitters. He's confident and durable, which could suit him well down the line in a relief role. A Georgia signee, Rhoderick could replace preseason All-America closer Josh Fields in the Bulldogs bullpen if he doesn't sign.

3. Daniel Schlereth, lhp (National rank: 149)
School: Arizona. Class: Jr.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 210. Birthdate: 3/5/85.
Scouting Report: The son of former NFL lineman Mark Schlereth--now an ESPN football and, at times, college baseball analyst--bears little physical resemblance to his behemoth father. While Daniel was a good prep quarterback who broke his school's rushing record and was Colorado's offensive player of the year in 2003, he chose baseball as his primary sport, perhaps in reaction to the 20 surgeries his father had. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, the younger Schlereth is an athletic, shorter lefty with a quick arm, good velocity and a football demeanor that helps him excel as a college reliever. Schlereth began his college career at Nevada-Las Vegas and sat out his freshman season after having Tommy John surgery. His velocity has come back since his surgery, as he hits 94 mph regularly and has touched higher with his heater, which also has some life. Schlereth's breaking ball is short, but he's shown feel for a changeup, which should help him get righties out when he becomes a pro closer. His biggest issues are fastball command (he had 24 walks in 29 innings this spring) and health (he'd missed some time with biceps tendinitis).

4. Tim Smith, of (National rank: 161)
School: Arizona State. Class: Jr.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 220. Birthdate: 6/14/86.
Scouting Report: A Toronto native, Smith has been drafted twice before (21st round in 2004, 17th round in 2005) but figures to make the third time a charm. He entered his first Division I season to some acclaim after he hit .450 at Midland (Texas) Junior College last spring during a record-setting career there (he owns six significant hitting records). Smith then dominated in the Northwoods League last summer, ranking as the league's top hitting prospect. However, he had trouble cracking the lineup in a crowded Arizona State outfield. His above-average bat eventually got him at-bats, and he showed a patient approach suited for the top of the lineup. His power doesn't project to be more than average. He's an average runner who can handle center field but profiles better in left, making him more of a 'tweener along the lines of ex-big leaguer Todd Dunwoody. His arm is fringe-average, if not below.

5. Brad Mills, lhp (National rank: 164)
School: Arizona. Class: Jr.
B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: 3/5/85.
Scouting Report: Last year, Mills got some scouts' hopes up by flashing plus fastball velocity to go with a plus changeup and potentially above-average breaking ball. Some thought he was a third- or fourth-round talent, but the former walk-on at Arizona was honest with clubs and said he didn't want to sign as a junior. Instead, the civil engineering major--who attends Arizona on an academic scholarship--returned for his senior season and has been the Wildcats' No. 2 starter. The Blue Jays drafted him in the 22nd round but he didn't seriously consider signing, and he was having another solid season. His repertoire is much as it was last year, though he has pitched more in the 87-90 mph range without touching 92 as he did last year. His breaking ball has improved, as he throws it with more power than he did before. Mills is still a semester short of graduation and likely will want to finish up, which could cost him instructional league and set his development back. He also needed a cortisone shot late in the spring to help a balky back that caused him to miss a pair of starts down the stretch, further clouding his draft status.

6. Eric Sogard, 2b (National rank: 182)
School: Arizona State. Class: Jr.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 5-9. Wt.: 175. Birthdate: 5/22/86.
Scouting Report: As the Sun Devils steamed toward their first Pacific-10 Conference regular-season title since 2000, scouts and opposing coaches pointed to Sogard as perhaps the most important player on a deep roster. In fact, they gave him the highest praise a modern-day Sun Devil can get, comparing him to Dustin Pedroia, now the Red Sox' second baseman. Sogard's tools grade out better than Pedroia's for some scouts. He's a better runner with a better arm, though he lacks Pedroia's amazing intangibles. Sogard has some thump in his lefthanded bat, having hit .347 with wood last summer in the West Coast Collegiate League and near .400 for the Sun Devils this spring. What endeared him most to scouts is his improvement defensively. While he lacks Pedroia's pure hands and quick transfer, Sogard has made himself a slightly above-average defender, improving by a full grade with his hands, range and arm. He should be an offensive second baseman and average defender and may not last past the fourth round.

7. Andrew Romine, ss (National rank: 192)
School: Arizona State. Class: Jr.
B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-0. Wt.: 170. Birthdate: 12/24/85.
Scouting Report: As much talent as Arizona State could put into this draft--with Smith, Sogard, Spencer and Andrew Romine all possible third- to sixth-round picks--the 2008 team will make more of an impact, both in terms of current sophomores (such as first baseman Brett Wallace and catcher Petey Parramore) and recruits (too many to mention). Romine could be part of that Sun Devils squad unless a team strongly believes in his bat, because if he falls far in the draft he would likely end up coming back as a senior. He's a premium defender in a year short on those in the college crop, with excellent arm strength and accuracy to go with good hands and range. Offensively, he has little power (.382 slugging) and had to rally to get over .300. He runs well (leading the team with 18 stolen bases), controls the strike zone and handles the bat, but at his best he profiles as a No. 8 or No. 9 hitter. The son of ex-Red Sox outfielder Kevin Romine needs to add strength, some of which he lost due to surgery in January 2006 to have a rib removed. Romine had thoracic outlet syndrome, which led to a blood clot in his shoulder.

8. Matt Spencer, of/lhp (National rank: 198)
School: Arizona State. Class: Jr.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Birthdate: 1/27/86.
Scouting Report: In terms of tools, Spencer is the same player who was part of a banner 2004 draft class in his home state of Tennessee. He went to North Carolina for his first two college seasons and helped the Tar Heels reach the College World Series last season, often playing center field despite his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame and finishing second on the team with 15 stolen bases. Spencer returned to UNC for his junior year after a poor performance in the Cape Cod League (.197, one extra-base hit) and lost his job, so he transferred between semesters to Arizona State. He burst back on the prospect scene with a pair of homers at an early-season tournament in Houston with most of the industry's scouting directors in attendance, but his season was plagued by as much inconsistency as his Tar Heels career. Spencer has above-average raw power and profiles as a right fielder if he can make consistent contact. After pitching just five innings for North Carolina, Spencer had worked into a set-up role with Arizona State. Though he lacked command (16 walks in 10 innings), he has hit 94 mph, and some scouts who doubt his hitting savvy like him better on the mound. Either way, he's still far from a finished product, just as was the case out of high school.

Moving Left To Right

As hinted earlier, the best talent on Arizona and Arizona State's rosters are in the sophomore classes with players such as Diallo Fon and Preston Guilmet (Arizona), and Ike Davis, Kiel Roling and Brett Wallace (ASU). The biggest 2007 contribution the teams will make is in lefthanded pitchers.

Arizona's Eric Berger and David Coulon could have been significant rotation factors this year, but Berger had Tommy John surgery days after last year's draft, and Coulon wasn't consistent enough to earn a spot. Berger has been up to 92-93 mph from a high arm slot that costs him movement but allows him to throw a good, hard curveball and a deceptive changeup. While 12 months out from surgery on draft day, Berger was expected to take his rehab slowly. He would be an ideal candidate for the "new" draft-and-follow process—following a player through a summer college league. Berger was not scheduled to pitch this summer, however.

Coulon has a live arm, with an 89-91 mph fastball and was positioned to be a big-time prospect after a strong Area Code Games showing in 2003. Then he tore an ACL while playing high school basketball, didn't play as a high school senior and ended up at Arizona, where it hasn't come together for him. He doesn't throw consistent strikes with his fastball, and his secondary stuff remains solid with a slider and changeup, though he also struggles to command those pitches. At 6-foot, 170 pounds, he has a small frame and quick arm.

Arizona State also had two lefties in its rotation who could get drafted in smallish Brian Flores and smaller Josh Satow, who have reversed roles as the No. 1 and No. 3 starters. Satow, just 5-foot-9, 155 pounds, ranked second in the Pacific-10 Conference in ERA (2.23) throwing in the mid-80s with his fastball and baffling hitters with a plus-plus changeup with fade and sink. He keeps everything down, having allowed just three homers in 117 innings, yet scouts still see him as a senior sign. Flores has worn on some area scouts who've seen him since high school and junior college in New Mexico. He's a winner (72-7 overall in college and high school) with a fastball that touches 91 but sits in the 87-90 range. His curve and changeup are fringe-average as well. Flores sets up hitters but can't put them away and is prone to the longball. He's a decent value around the 10th round.

Southpaws also made news in the junior-college and prep classes. Chandler-Gilbert's Rudy Owens (a Pirates draft-and-follow) was the big story early in the spring, when he was flashing low-90s velocity, but he was back in the mid- to upper 80s later after missing time with elbow soreness. In Owens' stead, Yankees draft-and-follow Tim Dennehy, an Illinois native, continued to improve with a fastball that sat in the 86-91 mph range last year and was more 89-91 this year. His breaking ball also was better, and while his changeup is below-average, it plays up when he's spotting his fastball to both sides of the plate. He needs more deception in his delivery to get more swings and misses. The Yankees were expected to sign him.

The state's top juco performer stayed steady all spring. Australian Josh Spence takes the mound at Central Arizona with an Aussie flag raised on the flagpole beyond the center-field wall and an arsenal of breaking balls and offspeed stuff that overmatched wood-bat hitters in the state. Through 100 innings, the freshman was 11-2, 0.72 with 119 strikeouts, using a fastball that usually tops out around 85 mph; in some games, he sat 79-82. He has an average slider and curveball and two variations of an excellent changeup, drawing comparisons to big leaguers such as Mark Buerhle and Jeremy Sowers. Because he has the arm speed to spin breaking balls, some scouts believe has more velocity to come, and at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, he could fill out and push his fastball into the fringe-average range. No one in the state knows how to pitch better. If nothing else, Spence should be a fixture on future Australian rosters in international competition.

Prep lefties Patrick McCoy and Sammy Solis went in opposite directions during the spring. Solis entered the year as the state's No. 3 prep talent and touched 91 mph right out of the gate, sitting at 89-90 mph. His fastball velocity never got back over 86 the rest of the year. Combined with his San Diego commitment, most scouts wrote him off as a college guy. McCoy came on despite his lack of athleticism and soft lower half, which needs to be addressed. He showed a lot of 90s on radar guns all spring, topping out at 91 while spinning a solid if slurvy breaking ball. He was commited to New Mexico Junior College.

The best prep pitchers not on Horizon's hard-throwing staff were Chandler's Kyle Brule and physical Gilbert High righty Devin Fuller, a former football linebacker. Fuller was the state's pop-up prep, the player few expected to be a factor who became one midway through the spring. His fastball sat at 88-91 mph during a 10-inning playoff start, cementing his status as a first-10-rounds pick, and topped out at 94. His breaking ball, a power slurve, needs work yet shows plus potential in the 78-80 mph range. His delivery isn't clean, as it has lots of effort, but it gives his fastball boring action in on lefthanded hitters, and scouts project him to add velocity as his 6-foot-3, 230-pound frame loosens up and gets further away from football conditioning. He's an outstanding competitor and may not make it to Arizona State, which has a huge, national recruiting class.

Brule flashed 90-91 mph velocity last summer and in the fall before struggling to reach that level during much of the spring. However, with both his bat and pitching, he led Marcos de Niza High to a state championship, and his fastball suddenly was touching 94 mph and sitting back in the 90-92 mph range. Brule is athletic enough to have played every position as a four-year starter and swings the bat with some authority. He also throws a solid slider and slow, show-me curve. He's an Arizona State signee who at 6-foot-1 has a small frame but suddenly had draft helium.

The state's group of hitters drops off quickly after ASU's Smith and Spencer. Arizona slugger C.J. Ziegler was a prep slugger in Tucson and hasn't been drafted or signed through two junior-college years at nearby Pima or out of Canyon Del Oro High. While scouts don’t consider Ziegler athletic, he was a high school quarterback and holds several football records in addition to his single-season and career home run records. He's a righthanded-hitting first baseman whose value is tied 100 percent to his bat. He was leading Arizona in home runs and RBIs entering the postseason, after setting a Coastal Plain League record for homers last summer with 13. In other words, his track record says he can hit. Scouts remain skeptical, as they do for Arizona's leading hitter, lefthanded-hitting outfielder Bill Rhinehart.

Other noteworthy players include:

• Yavapai righthander Justin Harper, who was not under control, struggled to throw strikes despite having one of the juco ranks' liveliest arms, at times sitting at 92-93 mph with a sinking fastball.

• Royals draft-and-follow catcher Ryan Cisterna showed superior catch-and-throw skills, especially with his quick release and above-average arm. His hitting will determine if he makes it past Double-A as a pro because he's slow, even for a catcher. Teammate Neil Medchill made waves by hitting .361 with 36 stolen bases in the spring and has scouts interested with his line-drive swing and good speed. Scouts question his power, and it will require work for him to move from first base to center field, where he would profile better with his speed and average arm.

• Lefty Joey Rosas was a shocking ninth-round choice last year, and even though he is essentially the same pitcher this year, he won't go nearly that high and wasn't expected to sign with the Nationals. Rosas lived off pitchability and an 88-90 mph fastball in 2006, but on a younger, less-talented Yavapai team this spring, he sat around 87-88 and had less command of the strike zone.

• Yavapai's top player was righthanded-hitting outfielder Gary Gattis, who went to Cal Poly out of high school before transferring to Orange Coast (Calif.) Community College and then redshirting a year before coming to Yavapai. At 22, he needs to go play if he wants to play pro ball; he's committed to Oklahoma State otherwise. Gattis is a 6.7-second runner over 60 yards and has gap power, having legged out 23 doubles to lead the conference this spring.