State Reports: New Mexico




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
The move of Ray Birmingham from coach at New Mexico Junior College to the University of New Mexico could eventually shift the draft focus in the state away from the juco program to the four-year college, which had one of its best seasons in years under Birmingham and advanced to the Mountain West Conference championship. Birmingham's replacement at NMJC, Cory Hall, continued the winning tradition, though his team was eliminated in the NJCAA playoffs when a brawl with Weatherford (Texas) JC resulted in a double forfeit.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

None

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

1. Trevor Harden, rhp, New Mexico JC
2. Scott Gracey, rhp/ss, New Mexico
3. Anthony Haase, rhp, Rio Rancho HS
4. Bobby LaFromboise, lhp, New Mexico
5. J.R. Robinson, lhp, New Mexico JC
6. Joe Scaperotta, of, New Mexico State
7. Tyler Sturdevant, rhp, New Mexico State
8. Brian Cavazos-Galvez, of, New Mexico
9. Zach Osborne, rhp, New Mexico JC
10. Drew Kendrick, rhp, New Mexico

SCOUTING REPORTS

Single-Pick Prep Ranks?

Prep righty Anthony Haase stands out in the state's prep class, which is unlikely to match last year's five players drafted. Haase has a chance to go high because of his present velocity and projectable 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame. He touched 92 regularly this spring and sits at 89-90 mph, with the arm strength and body to throw harder in the future. He jumps toward the plate in his delivery and needs help smoothing his mechanics, which should help his velocity and his secondary pitches. His curveball is ahead of his changeup. He's been Rio Rancho High's ace the last two years on teams making deep playoff runs (including last year's state championship), leading to heavy workloads, but generally has maintained his stuff. He's a New Mexico recruit and is considered signable.

The top two players at New Mexico JC this year, righty Trevor Harden and Canadian lefty J.R. Robinson, were on different tracks this season. Robinson was regularly hitting 92 mph and prompting scouts to go all the way to Hobbs (in far eastern New Mexico) to see him before an late arm injury, which could push him to college at Oklahoma. Harden, a Miami recruit, battled hamstring problems early and missed six weeks, but he was finishing strong and had interest from some teams in the fifth- to eighth-round range. He's shown a power arm with a low-90s fastball, touching 94, complemented at times by a plus slider in the low 80s. He's the safest bet in the state to get drafted with a single-digit pick.

No New Mexico player was a lock to be selected in the first 10 rounds, but two Lobos could sneak in to the single-digit range. Scott Gracey was the state's most intriguing talent and earned comparisons to Blue Jays righthander Jeremy Accardo due to a similar story. Like Accardo, Gracey primarily is a shortstop in college and hit .332 this spring, though with no homers even at New Mexico's altitude. While he's an excellent defender at short, he's a much better prospect on the mound, but he had not pitched enough to be crosschecked by many teams as a pitcher, making it hard to draft him high. Gracey pitched some in the MINK League last summer with the Beatrice Bruins (one-time summer league address of Joba Chamberlain), and shows a clean arm with 90-93 mph velocity on his fastball. His best pitch might just be a mid-80s hard slider/cutter that shows above-average potential. A redshirt sophomore, Gracey has leverage but also needs to get on a mound if he wants to be a professional pitcher.

Teammate Bobby LaFromboise was drafted in the 14th round last season, returned to school and went backward until Birmingham challenged him to get tougher. LaFromboise responded, pitched well in front of crosscheckers in an April matchup with Utah righty Stephen Fife, and finished the season by beating Fife in front of plenty of scouts at the Mountain West Conference tournament. He's at his best when he works down in the strike zone with his 88 mph fastball, which has good life, and gets groundballs with his slider. He lacks a strikeout pitch but keeps the ball in the ballpark, having yielded just six home runs in 170 innings the last two seasons.

Outfielder Brian Cavazos-Galvez has done nothing but hit the last three years under Birmingham, first at New Mexico JC and now as a Lobo. Scouts don't like his swing, but he continues to pile up results. With fringy tools other than his bat, he's likely just a senior sign.

New Mexico State outfielder Joe Scaperotta should be a solid senior pick after leading the Western Athletic Conference in home runs (23) and RBIs (82, second in the nation). Some scouts question Scaperotta's effort, particularly defensively, but he has shown a solid bat as he's become more selective. A California prep product, he began his college career at San Diego State. He's athletic enough to play center for the Aggies but as a fringe-average runner, he's a better fit on the outfield corners, where his arm is playable.

Scaperotta's teammate, righthander Tyler Sturdivant, was throwing 94 mph in fall practice back in 2005, before having Tommy John surgery. He's never quite come back to full strength, merely touching 90 from time to time now, and his slider has lost its former power and bite.