State Reports: Washington




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Washington didn't place anyone in BA's Top 200 prospects, yet it was a solid year for the state's prep ranks and both college teams. Washington and Washington State were more competitive than they had been in the last three years and both should produce single-digit draft picks. The eastern portion of the state once again produced more intriguing prep talent, and the junior college ranks were down considerably.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

None

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

1. Trevor May, rhp, Kelso HS
2. Nick Haughian, lhp, Washington
3. Paul Gran, 3b, Washington State
4. Jordan Merry, rhp, Washington
5. Matt Way, lhp, Washington State
6. Bryan Peterson, of, West Valley HS, Spokane
7. Steven Foster, lhp, Bellevue CC
8. Kyle Conley, of, Washington
9. Kyle Wiegand, 1b, Gonzaga
10. Brett Reid, rhp, Bellevue CC
11. Christian Scholl, rhp, Green River CC
12. Steven Ames, rhp, Columbia Basin JC
13. Beau Brett, 1b, Ferris HS, Spokane
14. Jett Hart, 3b/ss, Lower Columbia JC
15. Ryan Voelkel, 1b, Green River CC
16. Will Campbell, 1b, Bellevue CC
17. Andrew Kittredge, rhp, Ferris HS, Spokane
18. Beau Didier, ss/of, Bellarmine Prep, Federal Way
19. Kevin Komstadius, 1b, East Valley HS, Yakima
20. Jared Prince, of/rhp, Washington State
21. Jimmy Murphy, 1b, Washington State
22. Danny Oh, of, Jackson HS, Everett
23. Rusty Shellhorn, lhp, Central Valley HS, Spokane
24. Chad Nading, rhp, Skagit Valley CC
25. Greg Lagreid, c, Washington State

SCOUTING REPORTS

Wazzu, Huskies Fall Short Of Regionals

Washington was third in the Pacific-10 Conference for much of the season, and Washington State had a strong non-conference season, winning three of four games at Oklahoma. However both teams fell short of regionals despite showing improvement this season. A key to making a regional run last year for both teams will be holding onto some of their juniors through the draft and getting them back as seniors.

The top draft from the two Pac-10 schools figures to be senior infielder Paul Gran, who slid from shortstop to third base for the Cougars. His best present tool is his defense at third base; he made only one error there this spring and has excellent range to go with an average arm. If he cleans up his footwork, he could be an above-average utility player with the ability to move to second base or his old spot at shortstop. His lefthanded bat and 55 speed (fringe above-average on the 20-to-80 scouting scale) further his future utility profile. He's a cerebral hitter who sometimes overthinks at the plate and swings and misses more than he should. He has raw pull power and should be one of the first college seniors drafted.

Washington pitchers Nick Haughian and Jorden Merry might pass Gran as the top college draftee from the state. Haughian, a lefthander, is the latest Husky pitcher to develop velocity under coach Ken Knudson's tutelage. Scouts have seen his velocity fluctuate, in part because at times he both started and relieved in a Pac-10 weekend series, but he developed a slider in the low 80s that was a plus, strikeout pitch in the season's second half. At his best, Haughian's fastball reached 91-92 mph after sitting in the upper 80s much of the spring, but when he threw it for strikes and worked off his slider, he was filthy. He wound up tying UCLA's Tim Murphy for the Pac-10 strikeouts lead with 107 in the regular season. Throwing strikes consistently is the biggest key for Haughian, who could move quickly as a lefty reliever thanks to his slider.

Merry was more effective and turned into the Huskies' ace, which gave scouts time to warm up to him. He touched the low 90s with his fastball when he reached back for more, but worked better in the upper 80s, throwing his fastball with sink to the inner and outer halves of the plate. His curve and changeup are fringe-average, with the curveball lacking power. He added a slider he throws for strikes and would be a valuable senior ace for the Huskies, but could fit for some teams in the eighth to 12th round.
 
Washington's best position player draftee will be outfielder Kyle Conley, who could go as high as the eighth round. He's got legitimate power, hitting 19 home runs to rank second in the Pac-10 in the regular season, and reminds some scouts of past Huskies sluggers such as Tyler Davidson and Jay Garthwaite at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds. His other tools are fringy. He's an eligible sophomore.

Washington State outfielder/righthander Jared Prince was the Pac-10 freshman of the year in 2006, hitting .401 with more walks than strikeouts, but he's had shoulder issues since then and hit just .306 this spring. He doesn't have a plus tool and just played DH this spring as he tried to get going on the mound (he posted a 7.78 ERA). Two years ago he looked like he could be a high draft pick and was eligible as a sophomore last year as well, but now looks like he might be best as a senior sign. Teammate Jim Murphy has had a mercurial career, bouncing back as a senior to slug 16 homers. He's an organizational player for most as he strikes out too much and lacks athleticism.
 
Gonzaga's top draft talent, first baseman Kyle Wiegand, has size and a much better feel for hitting than Murphy. He's the latest pupil of Bulldogs coach Mark Machtolf, noted for his ability to coach hitting. Wiegand lacks athleticism but has a feel for the bat and excellent plate discipline, waiting for his pitch before swinging, and using the whole field. Some scouts would like to try to see him sell out for power more early in the count, as he's an excellent two-strike hitter and could use a little more pop. He's a well-below-average runner and a modest defender at first.

After Gran, Washington State's top draft pick was expected to be lefthander Matt Way, who moved from the bullpen into the rotation late. He was excellent last summer in the West Coast Collegiate League and continued to be a strike thrower with solid-average stuff. He works off a sinking fastball that sits in the upper 80s and a plus changeup that has screwball action. He's got decent size and a clean delivery and might throw harder down the line. His delivery gives him a little deception. His slider is a bit short to stay as a starter, but he's shown a durable arm as a college reliever.

Apple State Bats Add Intrigue

While righthander Trevor May is the top prospect in the state, the bulk of the top players in Washington were position players. May stood out from the crowd for showing a three-pitch mix and solid velocity. He got scouts excited by flashing 92 mph early (with some reports of 94), then settled into the 87-90 range more consistently, and in general was better early in the season. His curveball was his best pitch and could be above-average in the future as he adds power. He has a feel for throwing it for strikes or burying it as a chase pitch. May's arm works well, though he has some maintenance in his delivery, making it difficult for him to repeat. He's rangy and has decent athletic ability. He was asking for first-five-rounds money to keep him from going to Washington, and a team that got him crosschecked on a good day could take him as high as the third round.
 
The other prep pitcher drawing interest in the state was Andrew Kittredge, likened to Yankees righthander Ian Kennedy for his pitchability and smallish frame. He got on radar screens by throwing 88-90 mph last summer and touching 91 in the fall. He complements it with a sweepy breaking ball. A Washington recruit, Kittredge was expected to go to college.

The biggest prep name in the state belonged to first baseman Beau Brett, a Southern California recruit and nephew of ex-big leaguers Ken and George Brett. His father Bobby Brett owns the Northwest League's Spokane Indians, so Brett has been around the game all his life. He has a long lefthanded swing that generates good loft power, and most scouts consider his raw power well ahead of his hitting ability. Most expect him to go to USC.

Brett wasn't the top player in the Spokane area, as outfielder Bryan Peterson wrested away that distinction. An outstanding quarterback, Peterson broke former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien's city record for all-purpose yards. His throwing arm for baseball is just average and might fit best in left field. His bat is his calling card, as he squares balls up and has above-average power potential from the left side. He also has solid instincts defensively and is a fringe-average runner. He's a Washington State signee and likely will be the first prep position player from the state to be drafted.

The other famous name in the state was Beau Didier, grandson of longtime scout Mel and son of Bob Didier, who spent parts of six seasons in the majors and finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting in the National League in 1969. The third generation Didier has arm strength, athletic ability and a feel for hitting but lacks strength or present power and isn't considered ready to sign yet. He's expected to attend Louisiana State.

California recruit Danny Oh played with Jackson High's Travis Snider, a first-round pick two years ago by the Blue Jays, and entered the year considered the state's top hitter. He's likely to go to school despite solid hitting ability, good speed and a strong arm. He's academically inclined and hasn't played as much as other top prep players, and he lacks size and strength at just 5-foot-11, 180 pounds.

Two other Washington State recruits to note were Kevin Komstadius, a slugging first baseman who may be athletic enough to play outfield, and Rusty Shellhorn, who is just 5-foot-10, 165 pounds but had a record-setting spring. He has an outstanding curveball and mid-80s fastball that helped make him the state's player of the year. He struck out 21 in one game and had 125 strikeouts in fewer than 60 innings on the season.

Down Year In NWAACC

Members of the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges use wood bats and, like their California counterparts, are not members of the National Junior College Athletic Association. League coaches said the talent in the state was modest this year, with raw pitchers and an overall lack of athleticism.

The top pitchers in the league from a draft standpoint were righthanders Steven Ames, Brad Reid and Christian Scholl and lefthander Stephen Foster. All have solid-average fastballs, with Reid, an Oregon State transfer, the most consistently firm of the trio. Reid had been in the 90-92 mph range this spring and touched 93 after being in the 85-87 mph range last fall, and his changeup is an average pitch. He's being re-recruited by several four-year schools.

Scholl dominated hitters early with an 89-92 mph fastball, but when the weather (finally) cleared up a bit, his lack of secondary stuff was exposed. His velocity also jumped, with some reports of 93s and 94s. He's athletic and maintains his stuff with a squat, strong body.

Ames had a bit less velocity, sitting more in the 89-90 mph range, but has the best three-pitch mix of the trio with an average curveball and changeup.

A righthander with less polish but similar arm strength, 6-foot-6, 215-pound Chad Nading also was an Oregon State kickback who has visited the low 90s in the past. The Alaska native sat in the upper 80s much of the spring but could be a summer follow thanks to his arm strength and nascent but intriguing changeup.

Foster may have the most upside of the group because he's lefthanded with similar arm strength. He's behind in his development and has room for projection with a clean, loose arm. He's also not expected to play Division I baseball, and he sat out last season due to academic issues. His fastball velocity fluctuated all spring, and at his best he sat in the 88-90 mph range. His fastball has natural life and was a swing-and-miss pitch this spring, and his breaking ball showed sharp break at times. Command was a significant issue for him all spring, as he walked 46 in 58 innings yet also gave up just 24 hits while striking out 62.

The top position player in the NWACC, infielder Jett Hart moved from shortstop to third base this season and hit .367 for Lower Columbia. Athleticism is Hart's calling card, and he's a plus runner, getting to first base from the right side in less than 4.1 seconds. He still hasn't shown enough strength with the bat or power, which was an issue when the Padres made him a draft-and-follow. Scouts are vexed by his lack of power because he's a physical specimen with a strong, pro-ready body. He may not have the hands to stay in the infield but has the arm and range to try center field.

The other hitters who garnered any interest in the state's JCs were sluggers such as Will Campbell and massive 6-foot-6, 240-pounder Ryan Voelkel. Campbell, a Kentucky recruit, could fit right in for the Wildcats, as former All-American Ryan Streiby did when he transferred in. He's a decent athlete for his size and has plus raw power. A back injury this spring robbed him of some at-bats and makes college even more likely than it was before. Voelkel tied for the NWACC home run lead with 10 and has significant leverage in his swing. He has arm strength and got into much better shape in junior college, as he was around 300 pounds when he started. He was expected to want to sign, and he showed some ability to hit with wood last summer, batting .275 with 11 doubles in the WCCBL.