State Reports: Missouri




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Missouri doesn't have its usual depth, but it still sticks out because it has pitchers who can make a case for being the best in the college and high school classes. Missouri's Aaron Crow will go in the top 10-15 picks and as high as No. 5 overall, while Holt High's Tim Melville will be a first-rounder unless signability interferes. There are more pitchers of interest in the Show Me State, but prep second baseman/outfielder Conner Mach is the lone hitter who truly intrigues scouts.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Aaron Crow, rhp, Missouri (National Rank: 5)
2. Tim Melville, rhp, Holt HS, Wentzville (National Rank: 15)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

3. Conner Mach, 2b/of, Parkway West HS, Ballwin
4. Rick Zagone, lhp, Missouri
5. Matt Frevert, rhp, Missouri State
6. Dave Sever, rhp, Saint Louis
7. Charlie Lowell, lhp, Winfield HS
8. Tim Clubb, rhp, Missouri State
9. Jacob Priday, of, Missouri
10. Chance Sossamon, rhp/ss, Webb City HS
11. Ryan Lollis, of, Missouri
12. Ryan Mantle, of, Missouri State
13. Johnny Coy, of, Benton HS, Saint Joseph
14. Joe Kassanavoid, rhp, Lawson HS
15. Jordan Coons, rhp/ss, Jefferson City HS
16. Matt Sample, rhp, Crowder JC
17. William Piwnica-Worms, of, Watkins HS, Ladue
18. Ben Woodbury, of, Missouri State
19. C.J. Rose, rhp/ss, Fort Zumwalt South HS, St. Peters
20. Ian Berger, rhp, Missouri
21. Nolan Keane, of, Missouri State
22. Cody Asche, 2b/of, Fort Zumwalt West HS, O'Fallon
23. Dustin Renfrow, rhp, Southeast Missouri State
24. James Leigh, lhp, Southeast Missouri State
25. Chris Booth, of, Truman HS, Independence

SCOUTING REPORTS

1. Aaron Crow, rhp, Missouri (National Rank: 5)

In three years, Crow has gone from an undrafted high school senior to the best righthander in the 2008 draft, thanks largely to the best fastball package available. Other pitchers may throw harder, but no one can match the combination of Crow's velocity (92-96 mph with a peak of 98), hard sink, command and ability to maintain his fastball. He also has a plus slider, though he tends to rely on it too much. His changeup can become a solid third pitch, but he has had little use for it in college. He has control and command, keeping the ball down and throwing strikes to both sides of the plate. If there's a quibble, it's Crow's delivery, which has some effort but is cleaner than it was coming out of high school. Some teams wonder if his mechanics and size (generously listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds) might make him more of a closer than a frontline starter. Crow led the Cape Cod League with a 0.67 ERA last summer and was the No. 1 prospect in the league. He threw 43 consecutive scoreless innings early this spring, and was tied for the D-I lead with 11 wins. He wasn't as sharp after the streak and was pulled from a start with back spasms, but he solidified his place at the top of the first round.

2. Tim Melville, rhp, Holt HS, Wentzville (National Rank: 15)

A number of teams don't like to take high school righthanders early in the draft, and that bias may be all that stands in the way of Holt High producing a first-round pitcher for the second straight year. Holt High grad and Missouri State product Ross Detwiler went sixth overall in 2007, and while Melville won't go that high, he's the top high school arm for 2008. Melville hasn't pitched as well as he did last summer, when he tore up the showcase circuit, with his velocity slightly down and his curveball losing some tightness. He struggled in his first two starts but was throwing better as the draft approached, operating from 91-94 mph with his fastball and flashing a plus curve on a more regular basis. Melville is a very athletic 6-foot-5, 210-pounder who could be a star third baseman at the college level. He repeats his stress-free delivery with ease, allowing him to fill the strike zone. As a pro, he'll have to throw more two-seam fastballs and changeups. Melville probably won't follow through on his commitment to North Carolina unless he somehow falls out of the first round, and that would be an upset.

Mach Mashes Baseballs, Receivers

Conner Mach is far and away the best high school hitter in Missouri. He's strong at 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds and has an easy swing that allows him to launch baseballs with a simple flick of his wrists. An all-state defensive back and wide receiver, he's athletic but still has football stiffness and isn't quick out of the box. There's debate about his long-term position. He could be a tremendous offensive second baseman, but he may lack the first-step quickness to stick there. His arm is below-average, ruling out third base, and he could wind up in left field. He's the grandson of former big leaguer Phil Gagliano and will join his brother Kyle on the Missouri baseball team if he doesn't turn pro.

It was easy for Rick Zagone to get overshadowed on a Missouri staff that includes potential first-round picks in the next three drafts in Aaron Crow, Kyle Gibson and Nick Tepesch. But Zagone is a versatile 6-foot-3, 207-pound lefthander who could serve as a starter or reliever in pro ball. Tigers coaches blame themselves for his poor start this spring, as they encouraged him to try to add velocity and he lost pitchability. Zagone righted himself after a stint in the bullpen and returned to the rotation by the end of the year. As a starter, he's at his best pitching at 85-88 mph with good life and location on his fastball. In shorter outings as a reliever, he can dial his fastball up into the low 90s and flash a hard slider. His slider and changeup are ordinary, so he has to rely on command to succeed.

Righthander Matt Frevert was spectacular as a sophomore, allowing just one earned run all season while averaging 15.6 strikeouts per nine innings. He was bothered by forearm tightness that dogged him in the Cape Cod League as well, but he wasn't as dominant after getting healthy again this spring. Frevert's stuff is still good, as he gets good hop on a 90-91 mph fastball that tops out at 93 and can chew up hitters with his slider. A reliever at Missouri State, he'll continue in that role as a pro.

In three years, righthander Dave Sever has gone from a walk-on at Saint Louis to a possible top-10-rounds pick. A starter for the Billikens, he projects as a reliever in pro ball. He has an athletic 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame and touched 94 mph in a relief outing and again in his final start of the spring. Sever, who works at 88-90 mph, also has a hard curveball with bite, though it's inconsistent. He needs to do a better job of attacking hitters and commanding the strike zone. He's a top student and struggled for most of the spring, so most teams didn't bother to crosscheck him.

After Tim Melville and Mach, the next two high school prospects are both Wichita State recruits: lefthander Charlie Lowell and righthander/shortstop Chance Sossamon. Lowell gave up an earned run in his first inning of the year, then set a state record by not allowing another in his remaining 57 innings. He throws a lot of strikes with his 90-93 mph fastball, but his arm action and breaking ball aren't pretty. He could sign if he goes in the first 10 rounds.

Sossamon isn't as ready as Lowell, so he's more likely to spend three years with the Shockers. He can pitch in the high 80s but has to dial his fastball down in order to find the strike zone. He flashes an interesting slider and his arm works well. He's a good defensive shortstop who could play both ways for Wichita State if he hits enough.

The first pitcher in Missouri State history to go 11-0, righthander Tim Clubb was Missouri Valley Conference pitcher of the year. He's a redshirt sophomore after sitting out 2006 following surgery to repair the ulnar nerve in his elbow, and teams may not want to gamble on his signability. He'll touch 90-91 mph in the first inning, but he usually operates at 86-88 mph later in games. His slider is his best pitch and he also can backdoor his curveball for strikes against lefthanders. He hooks his arm in the back of his delivery, though it doesn't hamper his command.

Missouri's school record-holder for career homers (49) and RBIs (240), Jacob Priday did a lot of damage in both categories when he went deep four times and drove in nine runs against Texas in mid-April. Priday, who played at Sikeston (Mo.) High with Dodgers rookie sensation Blake DeWitt, joined the Tigers as a catcher but tore his labrum in 2007. He has spent most of his time at DH since, but a pro team may put him back behind the plate, where he once showed an average arm and decent receiving skills. If not, he'll be a corner outfielder.

Outfielder Ryan Mantle has the most intriguing bloodlines in the state, as he's a third cousin of Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle. Ryan piques the interest of scouts with his athleticism as well. He's a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder with power, speed and arm strength, but his tools never have translated into performance and he's still susceptible to breaking pitches. A redshirt junior, Mantle was passed over despite being eligible for the last two drafts.

Two of Missouri's more interesting high school prospects have made bigger names in other sports. Outfielder Johnny Coy is an Arizona State basketball recruit. He's athletic and has a lot of projectable power in his 6-foot-7, 190-pound frame, but he's raw in all facets of the game. Coy is considered more signable than Kansas State football recruit Joe Kassanavoid, who may be done with baseball. Kassanvoid is a 6-foot-6, 210-pound righthander who can throw 90 mph with little effort.