State Reports: Kansas




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Wichita State advanced to the NCAA super regionals for the second straight year, with a veteran club that could see as many as a dozen players drafted. The Shockers alone make it a strong year in the state: They offer one of the better pure hitters in the draft in third baseman Conor Gillaspie, and their entire weekend rotation of Rob Musgrave, Aaron Shafer and Anthony Capra should go in the first 10 rounds. All told, six of Kansas' eight best prospects either come from Wichita State or have committed to play there.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Conor Gillaspie, 3b, Wichita State (National Rank: 23)
2. Aaron Shafer, rhp, Wichita State (National Rank: 84)
3. Anthony Capra, lhp, Wichita State (National Rank: 152)
4. Jordan Cooper, rhp, Shawnee Heights HS, Tecumseh (National Rank: 163)
5. Nate Tenbrink, 3b, Kansas State (National Rank: 164)
6. Dusty Coleman, ss, Wichita State (National Rank: 185)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

7. Rob Musgrave, lhp, Wichita State
8. Andy Dirks, of, Wichita State
9. Lee Ridenhour, rhp/of, Shawnee Mission West HS, Overland Park
10. Trevor Hurley, rhp, Kansas State
11. Tyler Ybarra, lhp, Wellington HS
12. Thomas Taylor, rhp, Blue Valley West HS, Overland Park
13. Justin Murray, rhp, Kansas State
14. Kenny Williams, of, Wichita State
15. Byron Wiley, of, Kansas State
16. Daniel Edwards, rhp, Kansas State
17. Stephen Kohlscheen, rhp, Cowley County CC
18. Christian Kowalchuck, lhp, Johnson County CC
19. Cameron Seitzer, 3b/1b, Blue Valley West HS, Overland Park
20. Josh Workman, 2b, Wichita State
21. Ben Hornbeck, lhp, Kansas State
22. Nick Czyz, lhp, Kansas
23. Matt Smith, rhp, Wichita State
24. John Allman, of, Kansas
25. Logan Watkins, ss, Goddard HS, Wichita
26. Erik Morrison, ss, Kansas
27. Andres Esquibel, rhp, Kansas
28. Dylan Petrich, of, Butler CC
29. Hector Acosta-Carrillo, c/of, Junction City HS
30. Sam Freeman, lhp, Kansas

SCOUTING REPORTS

1. Conor Gillaspie, 3b, Wichita State (National Rank: 23)

Though he turned in productive freshman and sophomore seasons at Wichita State, Gillaspie didn't really break out as a prospect until he won the MVP award in the Cape Cod League last summer. He added the batting (.345) and slugging titles (.673) as well. He has posted similar numbers for the Shockers as a junior, consistently squaring up balls on the barrel of his bat and controlling the strike zone. As a pro, he projects to hit for a high average, with much of his power coming in the form of doubles rather than home runs. He gets high marks for his intensity and his work ethic, as he constantly strives to improve his game. He's an underrated athlete and baserunner who used his aggressiveness and instincts to tie for the NCAA Division I lead with eight triples going into the final week of the regular season. Gillaspie has no more than decent range and has been erratic at third base this spring, but he should be able to stick at the hot corner in pro ball. His hands are soft and arm strength is average, and he makes the routine plays. Clubs have varying opinions on Gillaspie, with some viewing him as a late first-round talent and others as more of a second-rounder.

2. Aaron Shafer, rhp, Wichita State (National Rank: 84)

Shafer had established himself as one of the premier pitching prospects for the 2008 draft midway through the 2007 season. Then he strained his elbow, which didn't require surgery but sidelined him for a month. His fastball hasn't been the same since. Shafer used to work from 91-94 mph with his fastball and now ranges from 88-91 mph. The diminished velocity hasn't made him less effective, however. His effortless delivery allows his heater to get on hitters quickly, and it enables him to live in the bottom of the strike zone. He has above-average command of his fastball, 12-to-6 curveball and changeup. Shafer has a solid 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame and his arm has been healthy since tweaking his elbow. He's no longer a candidate for the first round, but he could go in the second or third.

3. Anthony Capra, lhp, Wichita State (National Rank: 152)

In his first season as a full-time starter, the only thing that has been able to slow Capra down was an emergency appendectomy. After missing the first two series of the year, he rolled through the regular season with a 9-0, 2.52 record in 11 starts and led the Missouri Valley Conference record with a .201 opponent average. His 6-foot-1, 210-pound build brings to mind Mickey Lolich, but Capra's arsenal is more impressive than his body. His 88-92 mph fastball has late life down in the zone and his plus changeup is a swing-and-miss pitch. He throws a hard curveball that has its moments but lacks consistency, and his low-three-quarters slot may be more conducive to throwing a slider. Capra stuff plays up, too, because he commands all of his pitches and he's lefthanded. He touched 94 mph when he worked out of the bullpen in the past. Capra lacks projection and will have to watch his body, but he's a polished lefty who could go as high as the third round.

4. Jordan Cooper, rhp, Shawnee Heights HS, Tecumseh (National Rank: 163)

The top prep prospect in Kansas, Cooper stands out most for his polish. He has good feel for his heavy 88-91 mph sinker, and he has maintained its velocity throughout the spring. He throws four pitches, including a curveball, slider and changeup and could be more effective once he settles on one breaking ball. His arm is clean and works well. Though Cooper isn't exceptionally big at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, he's a very good athlete, which allows him to repeat his delivery and throw strikes. An all-city basketball guard, he also doubles as a slugging third baseman in baseball. Committed to Wichita State, Cooper could be difficult to sign in the fourth or fifth round, which is where his talent projects to land him.

5. Nate Tenbrink, 3b, Kansas State (National Rank: 164)

Tenbrink is fodder for the classic tools-vs.-performance argument. Scouts who like him project him as a possible third-rounder and rave about his physical gifts. He's a 6-foot-2, 204-pounder who has a loose lefthanded swing with loft in batting practice, not to mention a plus arm and solid-average speed. He's also an intense competitor and hard worker. Yet for everything Tenbrink has going for him, he hit just .251/.372/.459 and fielded .890 at the hot corner during the regular season. It's not a case of draftitis, as he posted similar numbers as a sophomore. Rather than letting his plus power come naturally, Tenbrink overswings and chases pitches too often during games. He needs to tone down his approach and force pitchers to challenge him. He also must harness his arm, as many of his errors come on throws. Tenbrink's two-run homer provided the difference in Kansas State's Big 12 Conference tournament-opening upset of Oklahoma State, and a hot postseason could push him up draft boards.

6. Dusty Coleman, ss, Wichita State (National Rank: 185)

Coleman offers more all-around potential than most shortstops in the 2008 draft. He's a versatile 6-foot-2, 185-pound athlete who also starred as a quarterback and point guard in high school and has taken the mound on occasion for Wichita State. He has good strength and power potential for a shortstop, and he drew a lot of attention when he homered twice in three games at Long Beach State's unforgiving Blair Field early in the season. Coleman homered just four times in his next 50 games, however, as teams were more reluctant to challenge him. He'll need to cut down on his swing, do a better job of recognizing breaking pitches and tighten his strike zone to do damage on a more consistent basis. He's a solid-average runner with good instincts on the bases. Defensively, Coleman has smooth actions and a strong arm. He has been clocked as high as 92 mph and flashed an intriguing slider in his infrequent outings on the mound. Coleman's talent warrants a fourth- to sixth-round selection, but his extra leverage as a draft-eligible sophomore could scare teams off. If he returned to Wichita State and improved offensively, he could factor into the first three rounds of the 2009 draft.

Musgrave Excels With Guile

Rob Musgrave can't match the pure stuff of Wichita State teammates Aaron Shafer and Anthony Capra, but he's the Shockers' Friday starter and has the best numbers on the pitching staff (11-1, 2.21). Musgrave's greatest assets are being lefthanded and commanding three pitches in the strike zone. His changeup is his lone plus offering, and his curveball rates better than his 86-87 mph fastball, though he did touch some 90s in the Jayhawk League last summer.

Andy Dirks has a knack for getting on base. He entered NCAA super-regional play with a 28-game hitting streak and a 73-game on-base streak, and he set a Northwoods League record last summer by reaching base in 52 straight contests. He's an athletic 6-foot, 195-pound center fielder, yet Dirks never has been drafted. He'll make a nice senior sign this June. He has a short swing, patient approach and gap power, and the plus speed to steal bases. His hard-nosed attitude also endears him to scouts.

Lee Ridenhour had his share of spectacular outings this spring. In a head-to-head matchup with the state's top pitching prospect, Jordan Cooper, Ridenhour threw a three-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts. He also fanned 17 in a no-hitter earlier in the year. Using an over-the-top delivery, he throws a high-80s fastball and a slider with good bite. Six-foot-3 and 190 pounds, he's one of several projectable righthanders committed to Kansas, a group that also includes Thomas Taylor and Eudora High's Kelson Boyer. Ridenhour also could see time as an outfielder with the Wildcats.

Despite posting a team 5.12 ERA, Kansas State could have as many as six pitchers drafted, starting with righthander Trevor Hurley. Hurley never has posted an ERA below 5.03 in three seasons with the Wildcats, and had a career-worst 6.90 mark in 2008, but he has an 88-93 mph fastball and a hard slider. He also has a strong 6-foot-2, 209-pound frame and he's younger than most juniors at age 20, so he could add velocity. His mission in pro ball will be to improve his control. He walks too many batters and gets hit harder than he should.

A club that values velocity and believes it can smooth his rough edges will be attracted to lefthander Tyler Ybarra. Wiry strong at 6-foot-1, he reached 93 mph with his fastball at a workout in Oklahoma City with plenty of scouts in town for the Big 12 Conference tournament. His hard curveball and his command have a long way to go, however. He's expected to turn pro despite signing with Oklahoma.

Outfielder Kenny Williams Jr., the son of the former big leaguer and current White Sox general manager, has barely played since being diagnosed with mononucleosis in early May. He also didn't see much action in his first three seasons in college, sitting on the bench for two years at Arizona and redshirting in 2007 after being academically ineligible following his transfer to Wichita State. An athletic 6-foot-2, 198-pounder who has been drafted twice—including by the Rockies in the 32nd round last year—Williams did shake off the rust in 2008. He's a switch-hitter with a quick bat, though he has yet to develop much power or plate discipline. His best tool is his speed, which he uses well on the bases and in the outfield.

Two more sons of baseball fathers rank among the state's best prospects, though they're more attractive as long-term projects than as 2008 draftees. Righthander Stephen Kohlscheen, the son of Phillies crosschecker Brian, is a 6-foot-6, 200-pounder who touched 90 mph and peaked at 93 mph this spring. He has good command and a promising slider. Corner infielder Cameron Seitzer's game is reminiscent of that of his father Kevin, a two-time all-star. Cameron is a gifted hitter with a line-drive, opposite-field approach. Likely to attend Oklahoma, he's not athletic and could wind up at first base rather than third down the road.

Outfielder Byron Wiley hit .366 as a sophomore, setting the stage for him to go in the first five rounds of the 2008 draft. Then he hit .217 in the Cape Cod League and .227 while losing his starting job this spring. He appears to be a victim of draftitis, trying to do too much to impress scouts. Instead, Wiley has chased too many pitches and stopped making hard contact. He looks better in batting practice and still displays speed and some raw strength, so someone may take a flier on him.