State Reports: Oregon




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Oregon State's back-to-back national championships in 2006-07 certainly put Oregon on the map in baseball, and partially in response Oregon has resuscitated its long-dormant program. The Ducks have shelled out millions for a new ballpark, hired a premium coaching staff led by former Cal State Fullerton mentor George Horton and have an excellent recruiting class coming in next season as they try to start strong in the competitive Pacific-10 Conference. Both programs already recruit all over the West, so the Oregon prep ranks don't have to be plentiful, but the Beavers' success has given high school baseball a shot in the arm that should be felt in upcoming years.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Ty Morrison, of, Tigard HS (National Rank: 179)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

2. Mike Stutes, rhp
3. Dan Meier, of/3b, Portland
4. Ryan Gorton, of/rhp, Tigard HS
5. Chris Hopkins, of, Oregon State
6. Ari Ronick, lhp, Portland
7. Jason Ogata, 1b/of, Oregon State
8. Mark Grbavac, rhp, Oregon State 
9. Alex Keudell, rhp, Jesuit HS, Beaverton
10. Koa Kahalehoe, of, Oregon State
11. Drew George, 3b, Oregon State
12. Darrell Hunter, ss/of, Thurston HS, Springfield
13. Chris Vitus, rhp, Mount Hood JC
14. Liam Baron, lhp, Linn-Barton JC

SCOUTING REPORTS

1. Ty Morrison, of, Tigard HS (National Rank: 179)

Morrison was in Virginia last spring and played on a Virginia-based travel team last summer, then was in Hawaii in the fall. However, his parents moved to Oregon in the spring, and he surpassed Tigard High teammate Ryan Gorton as the state's top prep prospect. A member of the University of Oregon's first baseball recruiting class for its reborn program, he probably doesn't have enough bat to make a quick impact in pro ball, but a patient team could get one of the draft's better athletes. Long and lean, almost frail, Morrison is a fast-twitch athlete who is a 65 runner on the 20-to-80 scale. Morrison's best present tool is his speed, and he's a raw though potentially above-average defender in center field. He's a long strider who can cover a lot of ground and has enough arm strength for center field. Offensively, Morrison is behind, unable to bring his authoritative batting-practice hacks into games. However, he has raw power, though it might take a couple of thousand minor league at-bats for it to come out.

Poor Year For Beavers

Oregon State missed regionals after a 28-24 season, and while their exclusion was debated, that the team struggled was not up for debate. The Beavers' top pitchers from a year ago, senior righty Mike Stutes and sophomore Jorge Reyes (the 2007 College World Series' Most Outstanding Player), had awful seasons. Most of the Beavers' top pitchers were freshmen, and the team could have two or three first-rounders in 2010 if everyone stays eligible, healthy and in school.

Stutes rallied late to lower his ERA to 5.32, salvaging some of his draft stock. He has shown excellent velocity, hitting 94 mph at times and sitting at 89-92 mph. Even after four years of school, he's still more thrower than pitcher, however, lacking fastball command and a feel for pitching. He threw more sliders this year than in the past and throws a curveball and changeup. At times all four are average pitches. His lack of consistency might push him back to the same range of the '07 draft, when the Cardinals took him in the ninth round. Righty Mark Grbavac has shown arm strength and a decent curveball in limited looks but got buried on Oregon State's deep staff. He's thrown just 65 innings in three seasons.
 
The rest of Oregon State's roster offers much less for this year's draft. Third baseman Drew George hit better than most of his teammates and is a scrappy player with below-average tools and a good feel for the game. Jason Ogata has a big reputation for hitting that he has not backed up in college. His lack of a position troubles scouts, as does his lack of improvement. He might be best served coming back to school as a senior and learning to play the outfield. His hands are too hard for second or third base, where he fits best. Outfielder Chris Hopkins, a 20-year-old senior, has speed and is a fine defender in center field. His bat is light for pro ball and he doesn't run enough on the bases to be an offensive factor. Fellow outfielder Koa Kahalehoe, a Las Vegas prep product, showed plus tools last summer in the West Coast Collegiate League, then failed to hit enough to earn playing time this spring.

Portland's Dan Meier has more tools than his Oregon State counterparts. He runs well for his size, enough to fill in in center field, and has shown improved power at the plate. He sells out and strikes out too much, but when he connects he can put a charge in the ball, as he tied for the West Coast Conference lead with 15 homers through the regular season. His best tool is his arm, and he's athletic enough for either outfield corner. Teammate Ari Ronick, a 6-foot-5 lefthander who is the nephew of the Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson, has lost velocity and pitches in the mid-80s, sitting at 87 mph at his best this spring. One scout likened him to former big leaguer John Halama for his size and solid ability to spot his changeup and breaking ball for strikes.

Oregon State recruit Ryan Gorton entered last fall as Oregon's top prep talent, then saw new teammate Ty Morrison eclipse him thanks to his premium speed and athletic body. Gorton is a good but not great athlete who might profile better behind the plate at Oregon State. His arm grades as above-average, and he spent most of this spring as a pitcher after splitting time between the mound and shortstop previously. His bat may take time to come around. The other interesting athlete in the prep ranks, Oregon recruit Darrell Hunter, also requires too much projection on the bat for scouts to risk a high draft pick. He's also a prep pitcher but is expected to play shortstop or outfield for Oregon. He was the Ducks' first in-state signee and is expected to go to school.

Two other Oregon prep pitchers drew interest, righthanders Sam Gaviglio and Alex Keudell. Gaviglio, an Oregon State commitment, has touched 91 mph and shows a feel for a good changeup. He's just 6-foot-1 and missed part of his junior season with shoulder problems, but he also threw nearly 40 consecutive scoreless innings this spring and led Ashland High to the state 5-A championship, winning a duel with Hunter. Keudell, signed with Oregon, has a similarly sized frame and has added power to his 12-to-6 curveball, his best pitch. His fastball relies more on movement than velocity. A lower back strain late in the season likely sealed Keudell's ticket to Oregon.

Oregon's junior college ranks were considered weak even though 6-foot-3 righthander Chris Vitus has a fastball that touches 92 mph. Scouts and college coaches didn't have positive reviews of Vitus' makeup out of high school or after a year of junior college. Linn-Barton freshman southpaw Liam Baron, an Australian, was much steadier with three pitches for strikes, throwing an 84-88 mph fastball, straight change and solid breaking ball. He led his conference in innings and could be a durable weekend starter at a Division I school and add velocity if he firms up his 6-foot, 220-pound body.