Scouting Reports: Colorado




2007 MLB Draft Scouts have described talent in the state of Colorado as anything from "weak" to "very weak" to "just not a very good year." The state's biggest-name player isn't its best, but Dylan Hochevar gets plenty of attention for being the younger brother of 2006 No. 1 overall pick Luke Hochevar. Like his big brother, Hochevar is likely headed to Tennessee to play college baseball.

THIS YEAR'S CROP
*****One for the books
****Banner year
***Solid, not spectacular
**Not up to par
*Nothing to see here
1. Matt Presley, 3b, Cheyenne Mountain HS, Colorado Springs
2. Keith Nelson, lhp, Mesa State (Colo.) College
3. Cameron Maldonado, rhp, Canon City (Colo.) HS
4. Dylan Hochevar, rhp, Wray (Colo.) HS
5. Cole Leonida, c, Granview HS, Centennial, Colo.
6. Brett Armour, rhp, Mesa State (Colo.) College
7. John Ray, c, Northern Colorado
8. Zach Cleveland, rhp, Golden HS, Blackhawk, Colo.
9. Owen Williams, lhp, Mesa State (Colo.) College
10. Craig Deaver, lhp, Regis
11. Will Latimer, lhp, Trinidad State (Colo.) JC
12. Matt Bodenchuk, ss, Mesa State (Colo.) College

Scouting Reports

Matt Presley is the top draft talent in the state for this year, and some said he was under consideration to be picked in the third or fourth round. However, the consensus held that Presley would be a better value in the eighth to 10th round based on his present ability and how far he has to come. Presley's prep competition has not been good, and most scouts do not consider him athletic enough to play third base. He's a solid athlete but lacks fluidity defensively. In fact, left field or first base may be better bets. He has excellent bat speed that has not been tested regularly by good velocity. He's committed to Arizona and may not be easy to sign away from his college commitment if he goes where the consensus indicates.

Keith Nelson dominated Division II competition as a 25-year-old closer for Mesa State. He flashes average velocity from a low three-quarters arm angle, usually sitting in the 86-88 mph range. He overmatched D-II hitters with a two-plane slider he could throw for strikes or bury out of the zone, and he showed the ability to throw a fringy curveball for strikes. He's got an interesting back story as a Coloradan from a small high school who didn't pitch in high school; he played catcher, even as a lefthanded thrower. It took him two extra years to get through school because he paid his own way through a pair of junior colleges before getting some scholarship money at Mesa State.

Nelson has several Mesa State teammates who could get drafted, including 23-year-old righthander Brett Armour, a former closer who has a fringe-average sinker and decent slider; lefty Owen Williams, who has hit 89 mph and has a decent cutter; and infielder Matt Bodenchuk, the team's best hitter who profiles well as a pitcher. Bodenchuk has hit 90 mph off the mound, and his bat may be too slow for pro ball.

The rest of the high school class behind Presley is likely headed to college, though righthander Cameron Maldonado--a Wichita State signee--could go pro after touching 91 mph. He's got a projectable frame and present strength, but ideally he'd be a draft-and-follow candidate. Dylan Hochevar, like his older brother Luke, is committed to Tennessee, and like Luke he's likely to eschew the draft out of high school. He's not as tall as his older brother, but he's more athletic and repeats his delivery well. He just doesn't have enough present velocity (sitting 84-86 mph) to get signed now. Hochevar starred in three sports at Wray High and got the save in leading Wray to the 2-A state championship.

Georgia Tech assistant coach Josh Holliday has ties to Colorado thanks to his all-star brother and his uncle Dave, a Rockies crosschecker, and he signed catcher Cole Leonida out of the state for the Yellow Jackets. No one will confuse Leonida for departing Tech catcher Matt Wieters, as he lacks the fast-twitch athleticism that makes Wieters special. Leonida has some strength and can hit for power, and should be a solid college hitter.