State Report: Washington




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Even though Washington will likely produce two top-five-round picks, it still isn't a great year in the Evergreen State. It was especially down on the high school side, as many of the top prospects coming into the year had disappointing showings in the spring. The few that did play well are considered tough signs, with strong college commitments. "It's a down year for top high school players in the Northwest," said Jeff McKay, a former national crosschecker for the Royals who now runs Baseball Northwest. "It's just one of those years. Everybody says next year's going to be really good and I would agree with that." Scouts shifted their attention to the junior college circuit, and it's a strong year on that front, especially for pitching.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Brian Pearl, rhp, Washington (National Rank: 173)
2. Kyrell Hudson, of, Evergreen HS, Vancouver (National Rank: 200)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

3. Kyle Conley, of, Washington
4. Matt Way, lhp, Washington State
5. Braden Tullis, rhp, Skagit Valley CC
6. Tyson Van Winkle, c, Gonzaga
7. Keith Campbell, rhp, Everett CC
8. James Robbins, lhp/of, Shorecrest HS, Shoreline
9. Cody Fassold, rhp, Lower Columbia CC
10. Tony Bryant, rhp, Kennewick HS
11. Darrell Ceciliani, of, Columbia Basin CC
12. Matt Boyd, lhp, Eastside Catholic HS, Sammamish
13. Kirk Wetmore, lhp, Bellevue CC
14. Steven Ames, rhp, Gonzaga
15. Jacob Lamb, 3b, Bishop Blanchet HS, Seattle
16. Chase Anselment, c, Meadowdale HS, Lynnwood
17. Jacob Partridge, lhp, Rogers HS, Spokane
18. Jason Erickson, rhp, Washington
19. Chad Arnold, rhp, Washington State
20. Matt Fields, rhp, Gonzaga
21. Alex Besaw, rhp, Skagit Valley CC
22. Drew Heid, of, Gonzaga
23. Ryan Wiegand, 1b, Gonzaga
24. Jake Rife, of, Washington
25. David Benson, rhp, Everett CC
26. Michael Englund, ss, Eastside Catholic HS, Sammamish
27. Jared Prince, of, Washington State
28. Alex Burg, c/inf, Washington State
29. Jeff Ames, rhp, Skyview HS, Vancouver
30. Michael Robertson, of, Bellevue CC
31. Seth Harvey, rhp, Washington State
32. Collin Monagle, rhp, South Kitsap HS, Port Orchard
33. Jorden Merry, rhp, Washington


SCOUTING REPORTS

BRIAN PEARL, RHP, WASHINGTON

A converted third baseman, Pearl has flashed good stuff this year, but has also been wildly inconsistent in his first year of pitching full-time. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder got two starts for the Huskies that didn't go well, so he mostly pitched out of their bullpen. A frustrating puzzle for scouts, sometimes Pearl would be 93-94 mph with his fastball and show a slider with good bite, while at other times he would come out and be in the mid- to upper 80s. He's not a big guy, but Pearl is athletic with a resilient arm. Control will never be his forte, though he can pitch on back-to-back days, has made good adjustments and shown body awareness that scouts like to see.

KYRELL HUDSON, OF, EVERGREEN HS, VANCOUVER, WASH.

It's a down year for Washington's high school players, and teams have split opinions on the state's top prep prospect. On pure athleticism, Hudson rates as one of the best in this year's class. He's a lean but strong 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds. His best tool is his speed, as he runs a 6.4-second 60-yard dash and can get from home to first in 4.3 seconds. If he attends Oregon State, he plans to play both baseball and football. The biggest question with Hudson is if he'll hit. He's raw, sometimes looks overmatched against good pitching and struggles to square balls up even in batting practice. There are more non-believers than believers, and as one scout put it, "I've still never seen a guy steal first base." If the bat doesn't develop, his arm is good enough that putting him on the mound could be a fallback option. On top of the questions about Hudson's bat, scouts aren't sure how much he likes baseball. At times he has shown up late to games, or he sits in the dugout while his teammates shag flyballs and doesn't show any fire. One scout witnessed Hudson lollygagging a five-second time to first base on a groundball to the shortstop, with a team's general manager in the stands. Hudson is a definite project, and some scouts wonder if he'll be overwhelmed by the grind of a minor league season.

The One That Got Away

The story in Washington is that the best player in the state—and one of the most gifted athletes in the draft—isn't even playing baseball. Jake Locker played outfield and pitched in high school, where he was a top-round talent, but fell to the 40th round because of signability. He ended up at Washington, where he stepped in as the Huskies' quarterback. Locker teased scouts by playing in the West Coast Collegiate League last summer, ranking as the league's top talent. Scouts believe that if he concentrated on baseball, he could be like a speedier Matt Holliday. He's not playing mind games with scouts; they know he has his heart set on playing in the NFL.

Locker's Huskies finished 0-12 last season. His baseball counterparts fared a little better, ending the season at 25-30, but the record is a disappointing considering the Diamond Dawgs will likely produce two single-digit picks for the first time since 2003. A physical 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, right fielder Kyle Conley can do some damage at the plate. He puts on a show in batting practice and the power carries over into games. Conley hit 19 home runs for the Huskies this year, tying for the all-time lead at Washington with a career total of 42. Scouts describe his swing as mechanical and he has holes, but he's strong enough to muscle balls out of the yard and he's done it with wood—leading the New England Collegiate League with eight home runs last summer. The power, though, is all to the pull side, as Conley struggles to catch up with velocity on the outer half of the plate or sliders from righthanders. They love his makeup and work ethic. He hustles and is a good runner for his size, but his arm is below-average and he's a little clumsy in the field, meaning he's probably destined for a move to left field or even first base in pro ball. A 16th-round pick by the Dodgers last year as a redshirt sophomore, he has hit his way into the top 10 rounds this year.

Aside from Pearl and Conley, Washington has a few other players who should get picked. Senior righthander Jason Erickson was a 45th-round pick out of high school. He has fringy stuff but throws strikes and competes. With his signature purple do-rag and eye black, senior outfielder Jake Rife is a bulldog. A 5-foot-11, 200-pound lefthanded hitter, Rife led the Huskies in batting this year. Senior righthander Jorden Merry was a 14th-round pick by the White Sox last year, but opted to return to school. It looked like a bad move when he lost his spot in the weekend rotation and ended up with a 6.08 ERA.

Cougs and Zags Roar Into Regionals

Washington State lefthander Matt Way doesn't wow you when he pounds the outer half with straight 88-90 mph fastballs. He does, however, have an above-average changeup that ranked as the best in the Pac-10 this season. He grips the change with his pointer finger curled in like a spike curve, causing the pitch to appear as though it's fluttering up to the plate, eventually taking a sharp drop down and in to lefthanded hitters. He throws it with good deception and confidence. Hailing from Sitka, Alaska, Way had a little further to go than most college players. He mostly throws his fastball and changeup, and his slider is a work in progress. He steps across his body and throws from a lower three-quarters arm slot, so he doesn't get a lot of tilt on the pitch, making it sweepy and flat. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder is a good athlete who swam and wrestled in high school, and a great teammate who prepares hard for his starts all week. He projects to be the first Northwest senior off the board, likely around the seventh round—much higher than when the Giants selected him last year with their 36th-round pick.

The Cougars, who reached regional play for the first time since 1990, have some good college players but thin out pretty quickly in terms of pro potential. Senior catcher Alex Burg shared time behind the plate and also played in the infield. A knee injury in late April didn't help his draft stock, but he returned in time for Washington State's regional trip. Senior outfielder Jared Prince battled injuries throughout his career and never matched the success he had as a freshman. Chad Arnold is a draft-eligible sophomore after having Tommy John surgery in 2006. The 6-foot-3 righthander has fringy stuff and struggles with his control. Junior righthander Seth Harvey looked good in Alaska last summer, touching 93 mph with his fastball, but has been inconsistent this year and doesn't have much in the way of offspeed stuff.

The top catcher taken out of the Northwest will likely be Oregon State's Ryan Ortiz, but some scouts see Gonzaga's Tyson Van Winkle as a better value and a better bet to hit as a professional. Van Winkle was drafted as a sophomore last year in the 39th round by the Astros and is a skilled defender. The 6-foot, 185-pounder is athletic, with quick feet. He's a skilled blocker, and his pitchers trust they can bury any pitch and Van Winkle will block it. His arm lagged behind his footwork in the past, but they're more in sync this year and his pop times were in the 1.8- to 1.9-second range. Van Winkle isn't just a catch-and-throw guy. He hit .361/.424/.542 for the Zags this year and has power potential.

Undersized at 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, junior outfielder Drew Heid has a knack for hitting. He's not a burner, but has baseball instincts and finds ways to get on base and score runs. He can cover ground in the outfield and has a good arm. He'll be a late-round pick, but could be this year's Dan Robertson. More of a doubles machine, senior first baseman Ryan Wiegand is Gonzaga's all-time leader in hits, doubles and RBIs. He carried the team in the West Coast Conference title-clinching game that earned the school its first regional trip since 1981, hitting three home runs and driving in eight. After hitting 11 homers last year, he had just six this year but a nice overall line of .330/.407/.517 thanks to 21 doubles. He's limited to first base and doesn't show much loft for a guy who is 6-foot-4 and 240 pounds.

Junior righthander Steven Ames pitched well for the Bulldogs this year, sitting anywhere from 89-92 mph with his fastball with an aggressive approach. Senior righthander Matt Fields is 89-91 and shows good pitchability, though he's already 23.

Banner Year For The NWAACC

When scouts realized it was a down year for Washington high schools, they turned  more attention to the junior colleges, which turned out to be a welcome surprise. (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.)
 
Lefthander Kirk Wetmore came to Bellevue CC as a relative unknown. Undrafted out of high school, the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder spent his freshman year at Washington, pitching just three innings. He transferred to BCC to get a chance to pitch more, and it paid off, as he's now one of the top pitchers in the state. He came in last fall and was throwing in the mid-80s with a loopy curveball, but saw a bump in velocity this spring and tightened up his breaking ball. He's now pitching at 87-91 mph. Wetmore can throw across his body at times, but for the most part his mechanics are clean and he throws from a low three-quarters arm slot. He commands his fastball and complements it with two above-average breaking balls: an 80-82 mph slider and a 74-75 mph curveball. Wetmore is committed to Hawaii next season if he doesn't head to pro ball.

Outfielder Michael Robertson has also blossomed at Bellevue and could be a late-round pick. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder has above-average speed, a good arm and goes all out at every practice and on every play. He missed a year with a broken wrist and does not project to hit for power, but makes consistent contact.

Skagit Valley righthander Braden Tullis flew way under the radar at Timberline High in Boise as a first baseman and closer. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Tullis is a great athlete who also played linebacker on his high school football team and ran the fastest 60-yard dash for Skagit Valley this year. His future is on the mound. On the season, Tullis went 4-0, 0.33 with 27 strikeouts and 11 walks, good enough to earn him NWAACC MVP honors. Tullis has a fastball that sits 88-91 mph with armside run and sink. He has a good feel for a changeup that could be a plus pitch down the line and is working on his breaking ball. He keeps everything down in the zone and throws all three pitches for strikes. The stuff isn't exceptional, but he has good command and you know what you're getting—which is a rarity in the Northwest this year.

Tullis' rotation-mates are both Oregon State transfers—righthanders Alex Besaw and Tyrell Poggemeyer. Besaw is the better prospect, though he was a little rusty after facing just two hitters for the Beavers last year. Then, right before the season started, he needed an emergency appendectomy and missed the first three weeks. He played for Bellingham in the West Coast Collegiate League, where Skagit Valley head coach Kevin Matthews spends his summers as the pitching coach. Besaw has a good frame at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds, with big legs. He has a live arm and pitches in the 88-91 mph range, and was up to 93 last summer. He works both sides of the plate and has a good feel for a changeup. He needs to tighten up his slider for it to be an effective pitch at the next level.

Madras, Ore., has a population of about 5,000, so when a player from there gets compared to Madras' most famous resident—Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury—it attracts attention. Columbia Basin CC outfielder Darrell Ceciliani has drawn such comparisons, though he's not quite on Ellsbury's level athletically and some scouts have questions about his bat. Ceciliani didn't play for travel teams growing up, instead spending his summers working on his family's cattle farm. A broken hand his junior year of high school moved him even further off the radar, but he developed a relationship with Columbua Basin associate coach Jeremy Beard. Like Ellsbury, Ceciliani is 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, but he looks a little bulkier. He bats and throws lefthanded and is up at the plate looking to put the ball in play and use his above-average speed (6.58 seconds over 60 yards) to get on base. Ceciliani hasn't faced good pitching, yet can get jammed even against below-average velocity in the NWAACC and has just warning-track power with wood during batting practice.

Lower Columbia CC righthander Cody Fassold looks the part on the mound, standing 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. He comes from the one-stoplight town of Gaston, Ore. and had a good year for the Red Devils in 2008, but it was in the West Coast Collegiate League that he really blossomed, touching 94 mph with his fastball. This year he's been more 88-91, touching 93 with sound, easy mechanics. A fastball-only guy last year, Fassold has added a short slider that he can locate and a changeup he throws a few times a game. His body's a little soft and he could also improve his mound presence.

Everett CC has produced some high draft picks over the past few years, from Mason Tobin to Zach Simons to Aaron Cunningham. This year's first pick for the Trojans will be righthander Keith Campbell. While most of Everett's players come from western Washington, Campbell came all the way from Taylorsville, S.C. After having Tommy John surgery and missing his senior year of high school, he rehabbed at a facility in sleepy Monroe, Wash., and got to know Everett head coach Levi Lacey. Campbell has shown he is healthy now by flashing an 89-93 mph fastball, along with a power slider and plus curveball. At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Campbell is a good athlete who runs a 6.9-second 60 and can dunk a basketball. He's also a fierce competitor who wants the ball in big-game situations. Coming from an over-the-top arm slot, Campbell's fastball shows good life. He repeats his arm slot when he throws his slider, and at 80 mph it looks like a fastball for the first 50 feet before taking a hard, sharp turn. He's working on his fastball command and developing a better changeup. Campbell has just six college starts under his belt, but he has already shown good velocity with tight breaking pitches and has room to improve.

Righthander David Benson doesn't have the same stuff, but has a great feel for pitching because he didn't always have good velocity in high school. At 6-foot-3, 175 pounds, Benson is working on the strength of his lower half. His fastball is currently in the 87-90 mph range, and he has a feel for a changeup and a developing breaking ball. He's committed to Centenary next year, but could be a late-round pick.

Tough Signs And Disappointments

In a disappointing high school crop, another player teams are split on is James Robbins—though the division is whether he profiles better on the mound or in the batter's box. Robbins is 6 feet and a stocky 220 pounds, and if he ends up at Washington State he'll be a two-way player. He bats and throws lefthanded, which makes him intriguing on the mound even though he throws 86-90 mph. He has a heavy fastball and shows a breaking ball that has a chance to be average. Scouts who like him better as a hitter see above-average power potential. Robbins has good bat speed and swings with authority. Despite his wrecking-ball frame, Robbins is a good athlete who played some center field for his high school team. One scout noted that Robbins' father and older brother are very athletic and said Robbins will get himself into better shape after seeing what players look like at the next level—whether that's in college or pro ball.

Lefthander Matt Boyd is distantly related to both Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller and former first lady Dolly Madison. He had a good season on the mound and at the plate, but profiles best as a pitcher. He pitched at 86-89 mph this spring and has touched 92. He also has a plus changeup, above-average command and is a good competitor with a feel for pitching. He is a good athlete who played 11 years of ice hockey before focusing on baseball. Boyd has a long relationship with Oregon State assistant coach Pat Bailey after attending baseball camps at George Fox University, where Bailey used to coach, and scouts think his commitment to OSU is solid.

Boyd's teammate Michael Englund has some name recognition, as his brother Stephen was a second-round draft pick by the Nationals in 2006. A few inches smaller than his brother at 6 feet and 190 pounds, Englund has strong wrists and a quick bat that produces above-average raw power. He's had an underwhelming season, and scouts think he'd be best served by heading to Arizona State. He needs to find a position and show better repetition with his swing mechanics.

After flashing 94 mph over the summer, 6-foot-7 righthander Tony Bryant was viewed as the top high school pitcher in the Northwest coming into the year. But Bryant entered the spring a little soft, looking like he hadn't worked out all winter, and his velocity was down to 85 mph this spring. His arm action is a little rigid, though he still can command his fastball down in the zone. He has a feel for a changeup but doesn't consistently get good spin on his breaking ball. Scouts know there's more there than they've seen this spring and like his frame, but after a disappointing spring he could end up at Oregon State.

Seattle's Jacob Lamb has played shortstop this year for Bishop Blanchet, a private powerhouse that also includes one of Washington's top 2010 players, outfielder Josh Sale. Lamb profiles as a third baseman, though some would like to try him out behind the plate because of his arm strength. He hit well this year and has a chance to hit as a pro, but because he's grown up in the shadow of UW he's expected to end up at Washington.

Another player considered a tough sign away from the Huskies is catcher Chase Anselment. Scouts say he's set on school, which will drive him down in the draft, but he's intriguing as a strong catcher who hits from the left side. He's raw behind the plate, but has a strong arm will hit and hit for power.

Spokane's Jacob Partridge is a 6-foot-2 lefthander who typically gets off to a slow start because he also plays basketball. He throws a fastball that sits 88-91 mph, has a slider that can be inconsistent but has good spin, and is working on developing a changeup. Because he usually peaks later in the year, he'll play in the West Coast Collegiate League this summer and could be an intriguing summer follow.

South Kitsap righthander Collin Monagle has a great pitcher's body at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds. He was up to 93 mph with a tight breaking ball last summer, but had tenderness in his elbow this spring and didn't pitch much. He's expected to end up at Washington. Likewise, righthander Jeff Ames entered the season with high expectations but hasn't improved much during his high school career and has battled injuries. He's expected to honor his commitment to Oregon State.