Scouting Reports: Upper Rockies
Idaho, Montana, Wyoming
Idaho small-college power Lewis-Clark State has produced plenty of big leaguers, but it hasn't had a first-round pick before. Fresno State transfer Beau Mills is virtually guaranteed to end that drought for the Warriors this year and had led the team to a 53-5 record entering the NAIA World Series.
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Mills, the son of former big leaguer Brad, isn't the only Idaho player with bloodlines who could get drafted this year, as Boise infielder Bobby Buckner--son of Bill--enters the fray for the first time. He's a Texas signee as a switch-hitting middle infielder and is expected to go to college rather than sign as a pro.
While Wyoming had a player drafted last year in Dusty Harvard, a 28th-round pick of the Giants who went to Oklahoma State, that's not expected to happen this year. The best player in the draft with Montana ties is Stanford righthander Nolan Gallagher (see California report), but otherwise it looks like another barren year in Big Sky Country. Neither state has spring high school baseball, and there's no Division I program in either state.
Beau Mills, 3b/1b, Lewis-Clark State
2. Chris Kissock, rhp, Lewis-Clark State
3. Josh Osich, lhp, Bishop Kelly HS, Boise
4. Matt Fitts, rhp, Lewis-Clark State
5. Jordan Latham, rhp, JC of Southern Idaho (SIGNED: Cubs)
6. Nik Gumeson, 3b, JC of Southern Idaho
7. Brian Parker, rhp, Lewis-Clark State
8. Mike Thompson, ss/of, Lewis-Clark State
9. Bobby Buckner, ss/3b, Boise (Idaho) HS
10. Matt Duryea, lhp, Lewis-Clark State
11. Nik Gumeson, 3b, JC of Southern Idaho
12. Jason Roach, lhp, Albertson (Idaho) College
13. Jesse Mier, c, Lewis-Clark State
14. Mike Cease, rhp, Montana State-Billings
15. Kirk Dehler, rhp, Billings (Mont.) West HS
Bumper Crop In Idaho
|1. Beau Mills, 3b/1b
Lewis-Clark State (Idaho). Class:
Report: Scouts are trained to focus on the process--the
how--rather than the results. In Mills' case, though, the results must
be mentioned. After two years at Fresno State when he hit 36 home runs,
Mills transferred to NAIA Lewis-Clark State. Fresno State suspended him
due to academic shortcomings in 2006, and Mills decided to join LCSC
after playing for coach Ed Cheff in the summer in the Alaska League. He
led the league in home runs (seven) and RBIs (33). The son of ex-big
leaguer Brad Mills--now the Red Sox' bench coach--has proceeded to
dominate inferior competition. He hit his school-record 31st home run
in LCSC's 54th game, and his on-base plus slugging percentage was
approaching 1.600. Mills generates well-above-average power thanks to a
leveraged, balanced swing and excellent strength; the ball jumps off
his bat to all fields. Defense is another matter. A shoulder injury
limited him to DH last summer, and Mills' arm is still a bit tight
(leading to more DH appearances) and grades as below-average. He works
hard at his defense, and his hands and footwork could make him a
fringe-average third baseman eventually, though most scouts believe
he'll be below-average. His bat should play at first base, but it would
play even better at third. In a year with few impact college bats,
Mills stands out and figures to go high, no matter which infield corner
Lewis-Clark State again will be the biggest factor in the draft from the upper Rockies, even beyond Mills. Righthander Chris Kissock
has been the Warriors' ace for two seasons and has added weight the last two years, creeping from 160 pounds up to close to 200 on his 6-foot-4 frame. The added size helps him maintain his fastball velocity in the 90-92 mph range with action down in the zone. He doesn't have a plus pitch--his slider and split-finger are fringy--but he has a feel for his craft and competes.
Eligible sophomore Matt Fitts
has a compact delivery and throws three pitches for strikes, with a fastball that touches the low 90s, a solid swing-and-miss slider and good changeup. The Long Beach State transfer, who played for Lewis-Clark coach Ed Cheff in the Alaska League in 2004, is a solid athlete who throws plenty of low strikes. Warriors closer Brian Parker
is a lanky 6-foot-5 righty with a high-80s sinker and hard slider who dominated this spring (76 Ks in 56 IP) by keeping the ball down; he allowed only one home run. Warriors catcher Jesse Mier
also could go out, thanks to solid catch-and-throw skills and his fluency in Spanish. Scrappy outfielder Mike Thompson
is a solid runner who can play center field as a pro, though he has moved to the infield as a senior. His lack of power shouldn't preclude him from becoming a useful utility player and good senior sign.
Known to BA readers as the Junior College of Southern Idaho (we add the "Junior" so you'll know it's a two-year school), it's known locally as CSI, and the team's top prospect already had signed as a draft-and-follow with the Cubs. Righthander Jordan Latham
has a live fastball that reaches 91 mph and a good hard slider. Third baseman Nik Gumeson
was the top prospect on the team who could be drafted, thanks to surprising power in his short swing. His five home runs with wood ranked second in the Scenic West Athletic Conference. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound sophomore lacks defensive polish but has the tools to stay at third and can run.
The top prep name in the area is Bobby Buckner
, son of Bill and a Texas recruit, but he's considered more of a solid college player. The hottest draft prospects is lefthander Josh Osich
. An Oregon State signee, Osich has touched 92 mph and pitches at 89-91 mph, with a big, athletic body and at times a power curveball. The Beavers see him as a future reliever, considering they've had success with lefthanded closers such as Kevin Gunderson. He needs to polish his delivery, which he doesn't repeat consistently.
Late word out of Montana had two players who could be drafted, though perhaps not this year. Righty Mike Cease
injured his knee late in the season for Montana State's second-year program, but prior to his injury the 5-foot-11 shortstop-turned-closer had generated interest with a fastball that reportedly hit 96 mph. The draft-eligible sophomore was going to miss scheduled draft workouts with teams due to the knee injury. The state's top arm in the high school ranks, righty Kirk Dehler
, was headed to Yavapai (Ariz.) JC and has flashed upper-80s fastball velocity, touching the low 90s, to go with a good split-finger fastball.