State Reports: Nevada




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Nevada's impact on the draft continues to grow, as the state has developed several powerhouse programs in recent years. Western Nevada Community College and the Community College of Southern Nevada have emerged as regional junior-college powerhouses, while Las Vegas' Bishop Gorman High has become the preeminent prep program in the state, winning three state titles in a row and producing a bevy of Division I and draft prospects.

The buzz in the state, even in a solid or above-average year, is about Nevada's underclassmen: 2009 prospects Jeff Malm, 2010 righthander Kris Bryant, and even 2011 Bryce Harper, a Las Vegas prep catcher who hit 11 home runs and stole 33 bases in as many attempts this spring.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Niko Vasquez, ss, Durango HS, Las Vegas (National Rank: 65)
2. Joe Wieland, rhp, Bishop Manogue HS, Reno (National Rank: 93)
3. Donnie Roach, rhp, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas (National Rank: 94)
4. Taylor Cole, rhp, CC of Southern Nevada (National Rank: 122)
5. Xavier Scruggs, 1b, Nevada-Las Vegas (National Rank: 197)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

6. Kyle Farrell, rhp, Western Nevada CC
7. Braden Schlehuber, c, CC of Southern Nevada
8. Colby Shreve, rhp, CC of Southern Nevada
9. Devin Shepherd, of, CC of Southern Nevada
10. Bryan Harper, lhp, Las Vegas HS
11. Paul Sewald, of/rhp, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas
12. Tyler Lavigne, rhp, CC of Southern Nevada
13. Brandon Garcia, lhp, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas
14. Kyle Howe, rhp, Nevada
15. Jose Barajas, rhp, Western Nevada CC
16. Brandon Trodick, of, CC of Southern Nevada
17. Johnny Rickard, c, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas
18. Rod Scurry, rhp, Nevada
19. Matt Harrison, ss, Green Valley HS, Henderson
20. Drew Leary, rhp, CC of Southern Nevada
21. Easton Gust, ss/3b, CC of Southern Nevada
22. Jason Rodriguez, 3b, Nevada
23. Jacob Anderson, lhp, Galena HS, Reno
24. Adam Moser, rhp, Nevada-Las Vegas
25. Egan Smith, lhp, CC of Southern Nevada

SCOUTING REPORTS

1. Niko Vasquez, ss, Durango HS, Las Vegas (National Rank: 65)

Vasquez emerged as a potential high draft pick at last summer's Area Code Games as he started turning his raw tools into performance, using his strong hands and good bat speed to blister good velocity. He also showed good defensive tools during a January Under Armour event, with a strong, accurate arm and better hands and actions. However, his season has been wildly inconsistent, starting with an academic suspension in February that cost him a month's worth of games. When he returned, Vasquez was inconsistent defensively, and most scouts see him moving either to third base or second due to his below-average speed and lack of range at shortstop. However, his bat and perceived signability should get him drafted in the first three rounds. A skilled hitter, he has excellent hands and a good swing path, helping him lash line drives from gap to gap. He was at his best when the scouting heat was on this spring. Some scouts want to try him behind the plate, while others think he'll hit enough and has enough arm (it's average at best) to handle third base. His academic issues didn't hinder his Oregon State commitment, but he's considered signable.

2. Joe Wieland, rhp, Bishop Manogue HS, Reno (National Rank: 93)

The Reno area is gaining a reputation for developing pitchers, but Wieland stands out as the top righthander to come out of the area that in the last few years has produced Rays minor leaguer Jake McGee (out of high school) and Cole Rohrbough (Braves, out of Western Nevada CC). Wieland has impressed scouts with his combination of now stuff, clean arm and projectable frame. He was outstanding in all, sitting at 88-91 mph with his fastball and reminding scouts of Mark Prior with his command and has more deception in his delivery. He's maintained that velocity this spring and reportedly has flashed better velocity, with most reports having him bumping 92 regularly. He's shown the ability to spin a breaking ball despite Reno's thin air and flashed a changeup. He's signed as a two-way player to San Diego State but figures to sign if taken in the second-to-fourth round range.

3. Donnie Roach, rhp, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas (National Rank: 94)

Bishop Gorman has become the premier program in Las Vegas, and Roach was the team's top player and prospect this spring, helping lead it to a third consecutive state championship. He's slightly more physical than last year's ace, righthander Taylor Cole (now at CC of Southern Nevada), and throws a bit harder than Cole did in high school, sitting 90-93 mph with his fastball. He's touched a bit higher also throws a curveball, changeup and split-finger fastball, and while none of his secondary pitches grades out as above-average consistently, all are playable and he commands them well. Most scouts rate the curve as his best secondary pitch, with future above-average potential. At 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, he resembles Cole in that he's on the small side for a prep righthander, but his arm works, he's loose and athletic, and his mechanics are cleaner than those of Cole. He's an Arizona signee who might need third-round money to sign and keep him from going to college.

4. Taylor Cole, rhp, CC of Southern Nevada (National Rank: 122)

Cole has shown big stuff in a small body the last two years, first as a high school senior at Las Vegas' Bishop Gorman High, then this year as a freshman at CC of Southern Nevada. He's emerged as CCSN's top prospect after outfielder Devin Shepherd bombed and ace righty Colby Shreve needed Tommy John surgery. Some scouts aren't sold on Cole, who probably isn't as big as his listed 6-foot-1, 175 pounds, but he has several factors in his favor. His fastball sat 90-91 mph early and he got better as the season went along, touching 96 and sitting 92-94 at times. Blessed with a quick arm, the athletic Cole does it easy and repeats his delivery, pumping his fastball into the bottom of the strike zone. He long tosses and has natural arm strength to boot. His slider can be an average pitch, and he's still learning how to add and subtract velocity from his stuff. Still, most scouts peg Cole as a reliever as a pro. His fastball can flatten out, and he's more Jesse Crain than Roy Oswalt. His draft stock fell last year when his bonus demands went up, and despite his big-time arm he seemed to be falling again this spring, into the third- to fifth-round range.

5. Xavier Scruggs, 1b, Nevada-Las Vegas (National Rank: 197)

Scouts and opposing coaches were impressed by Scruggs' improvement this season over last, reflected in his outstanding performance. Scruggs ranked among the national leaders in the triple-crown categories (.389-20-65) as well as slugging percentage (.778) and on-base percentage (.489), and he and was named the Mountain West Conference player of the year. He's strong and fairly short to the ball, and has greatly improved his plate discipline, allowing him to get into hitter's counts and sit on a particular pitch. He has good plate coverage and loft power and realizes he's strong enough that he doesn't have to pull everything to hit the ball hard. Scruggs didn't help his draft value by moving off third base and playing mostly first this season, though he's a better fit at first defensively. At 6-foot-1 he's a shade short for the position.

Jucos Outstrip D-I Schools

The Nevada junior college ranks have two standout programs, with CC of Southern Nevada winning the district title this year by beating Western Nevada, which went to the NJCAA World Series in 2007. Western Nevada's top draft prospect, righthander Kyle Farrell, has one potential plus pitch with his spike curveball that he throws with some power and improved command. He throws strikes with a clean arm action and repeats his delivery. His fastball sits in the 87-91 mph range, and he has a physical, projectable frame that should allow him to add velocity. Farrell didn't dominate the wood-bat Scenic West Athletic Conference as someone with his stuff should have. He's just a freshman and could be back for his sophomore season if he's not a high pick.

CCSN's Colby Shreve, an unsigned eighth-round pick last year of the Braves, was in the running to be the top juco prospect in the country this spring, reaching 94 mph consistently and showing a solid-average slider. Shreve's mechanics left something to be desired for some scouts, so they weren't surprised when he went down at midseason with an elbow injury. He wound up having Tommy John surgery, and while he has an Arkansas commitment, many expect Shreve to sign and still get a six-figure signing bonus despite the surgery—much as Nick Adenhart did with the Angels in 2004.

Teammate Devin Shepherd entered the season as the nation's top juco prospect, having been an unsigned fifth-round pick of the Twins out of a California high school in 2006. After spending one season at Oklahoma, Shepherd shined last summer in the California Collegiate League, then backtracked using wood bats for CCSN. He was awful early, then rallied to finish at .343 but showing power (one home run). Scouts knock Shepherd for his lack of energy, inability to bring his raw power to bear in games and spotty ability to make contact. He remains athletic, a big man who can run and an impressive 5 o'clock hitter. While he was earlier committed to Oregon State, he's now believed to have switched to UC Santa Barbara.

Catcher Braeden Schlehuber outperformed Shepherd this season, slamming five home runs, and showing the athleticism to steal 16 bases as well as solid catch-and-throw skills. He has an average to plus arm but wore down and needs to gain strength to catch every day as a pro. Offensively, Schlehuber gets his barrel on the ball consistently when he hits his pitch, and his hand-eye coordination can actually make him too aggressive. He often expands his strike zone and swings at pitches he can hit, rather than waiting for pitches he can drive. He's an Arkansas recruit, and one coach compared him to A.J. Pierzynski for his ability to get under opponents' skin.

CCSN has eight Division I recruits overall, with three committed to San Diego State. Righthander Tyler Lavigne, who's had two dominating seasons thanks to his ability to spot his average fastball, which reaches 90 mph, and finish hitters off with his slurvy breaking ball. Infielder Easton Gust has a feel for hitting, but righty Drew Leary is a better prospect with an average fastball with sinking life and a big, solid frame.

CCSN's Brandon Trodick has raw power, tying Schlehuber with five home runs for the team lead, and has enough arm and athletic ability to play an outfield corner. He's signed with Nevada.

Xavier Scruggs figures to be the only D-I player drafted in a single-digit round. Nevada, alma mater of big leaguers such as Kevin Kouzmanoff, Lyle Overbay, Chad Qualls and Darrell Rasner, doesn't have that kind of talent right now, and righty Rod Scurry Jr., son of the former big leaguer, didn't capitalize on a prime opportunity when he pitched in front of crosscheckers while facing Fresno State's Tanner Scheppers. Scurry is 6-foot-7 but lacks a present pitch.

Teammate Kyle Howe, more physical at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, has a slow arm and a fringy fastball (86-88 mph) and changeup, but he throws strikes and works primarily off a plus slider. He could have a future in middle relief. Third baseman Jason Rodriguez hit .390 this spring and should be an organizational player. He lacks power and doesn't run well, making it difficult to profile him as a pro. He should hit enough to earn a job.

Scruggs was UNLV's only significant draft prospect, though there was some interest in Canadian closer Adam Moser, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound righthander who pitches downhill and touches the low 90s while sitting in the upper 80s with his fastball.

Boom Times For Bishop

Bishop Gorman won its third straight state championship, and has the state's top talents heading into 2009 in first baseman/lefthander Jeff Malm and center fielder/lefthander Joey Rickard. Gorman's top players for the 2008 draft start with righty Donnie Roach but don't stop there. Paul Sewald, a two-way talent who has signed with San Diego, improved offensively this spring and throws strikes off the mound with three pitches, including an 87-89 mph fastball. He has touched 90 and has enough athleticism that some teams such as the Yankees were considering buying him out of his academic scholarship to San Diego, a pricey proposition.

Lefthander Brandon Garcia, who has bumped 90 mph as the team's sixth pitcher, has accepted a scholarship offer from Southern California, which likes him as a hitter as well. Catcher Johnny Rickard, whose younger brother Joey plays outfield for Gorman, committed to Division II Dixie State (Utah) and has above-average receiving ability, handling premium velocity from the deep Gorman staff, as well as an average arm.

Cal State Northridge signee Bryan Harper at times showed three average to plus pitches. His fastball sat at 87-89 mph and bumped some 90s while showing plus potential with his slider. He also has feel for a changeup, and at 6-foot-5, 185 pounds, there's room for him to add strength and velocity. He may eventually be known as Bryce Harper's brother, as his freshman sibling may have been the state's top player this year, at age 14.

Two Division I recruits went backward as pro prospects this spring: North Carolina recruit Matt Harrison has the arm and high-energy approach to be a solid college shortstop. His bat and overall athleticism leave him short as a pro for now. Nevada recruit Jacob Anderson lost velocity this year, sitting at 85-86 mph with his fastball, though his 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame has scouts thinking he could be a solid pick in three years.