State Report: Oregon
|THIS YEAR'S CROP
||One for the books
||Solid, not spectacular
||Not up to par
||Nothing to see here
With the return of baseball at the University of Oregon, 2009 marked the first year since 1981 that the Pacific-10 Conference actually had 10 teams in its baseball standings. While it was a disappointing year for coach George Horton and Co., as the Ducks finished with a record of 14-42, the team still featured a couple of pitchers who will be drafted. Rival Oregon State made its 10th trip to an NCAA regional and boasts a few pitchers of its own, including righthander Jorge Reyes, the top prospect in the state.
The strength of this year's draft class in the state comes from college arms, and that also should be next year's theme, as hard-throwing Oregon State lefthanders Josh Osich and Tanner Robles will be eligible and could be premium picks.
|NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS
1. Jorge Reyes, rhp, Oregon State (National Rank: 167)
2. Erik Stavert, rhp, Oregon (National Rank: 174)
3. Kraig Sitton, lhp, Oregon State
4. Ryan Ortiz, c, Oregon State
5. Drew Gagnier, rhp, Oregon
6. Jordan Poyer, of, Astoria HS
7. Tym Pearson, of, Thurston HS
8. Greg Peavey, rhp, Oregon State
9. Joey Wong, ss, Oregon State
10. Jason Braun, rhp, Corban College
11. Bennett Whitmore, lhp, Oregon
12. Mark Grbavac, rhp, Oregon State
13. Taylor Ard, 1b, Mt. Hood CC
14. Chris Vitus, rhp, Lane CC
15. A.J. Christensen, 1b, Clackamas CC
JORGE REYES, RHP, OREGON STATE
Reyes has been a bit of an enigma for scouts. He burst onto the scene as a freshman and was the Most Outstanding Player in the College World Series in 2007, the second of Oregon State's back to back national championships. He hasn't matched that success since. While his 3.80 ERA this year looks a lot better than the 7.08 he posted last year, he was inconsistent and scouts aren't sure what to make of him. On top of that, he's represented by Scott Boras Corp., which adds questions about how expensive he might be. Reyes has been sitting 90-91 mph with his fastball this year, touching 93. He has an average slider and lacks a third pitch, meaning some scouts have him projected to end up in the bullpen. He spent 11 days in jail last year for his involvement in some backyard, rifle-related mischief, but scouts like Reyes' makeup. He's regarded as a good kid from a good family. Scouts see a lot of pitchers like Reyes out there and might go for someone they think will be cheaper, so Reyes could end up back at school next year.
ERIK STAVERT, RHP, OREGON
While teammate Drew Gagnier may be a sexier pick from a physical standpoint, Oregon's first player off the board is likely to be Stavert. He gets heavy sink on a 89-92 mph two-seam fastball that's been up to 94. He commands the pitch well and has a plus changeup that he'll throw to righthanded or lefthanded hitters. Like his fastball, the changeup gets good downward action, giving him two pitches hitters pound into the ground. Stavert's breaking ball is a work in progress. Right now it's a slurvy pitch in the 77 mph range, and pitching coach Andrew Checketts has been working with him to refine it as either a true curveball or a true slider.
Oregonians Embrace Return Of Civil War Rivalry
There's a common theme among Oregon's pitching staff: size. The Ducks are loaded with physical, pro-bodied hurlers, and righthander Drew Gagnier
is the biggest at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. Gagnier has the stuff to match his size. While some days his fastball is 89-92 mph, other times it's 92-95. Like many pitchers, his fastball tends to straighten out at higher speeds. He developed an 85 mph cutter/slider that he uses as an out pitch and has a changeup, though he rarely throws it. Gagnier has some head tilt during his delivery, which contributes to spotty control (he walked 25 batters over 30 innings this year). Because of his size and big arm, Gagnier projects to go in the top 10 rounds—his brother Lauren was a 10th-round pick by the Tigers out of Cal State Fullerton in 2006. As a draft-eligible sophomore, though, he could return to Eugene to work on his control with the hope of improving his stock.
Ducks lefthander Bennett Whitmore
also has a pro body at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, but hasn't shown consistent velocity or command. He lost confidence in his stuff and tried to overthrow, though could still get popped in the latter rounds, as he was by the Red Sox last year coming out of Fresno (Calif.) CC.
Oregon State righthander Greg Peavey
has been even more inconsistent. Ranked as the top prep arm in the Northwest in 2007, signability and a down senior high school season dropped him to the 24th round (Yankees). Now a draft-eligible sophomore, his numbers haven't matched his reputation. He spent his freshman year mostly pitching out of the bullpen, going 2-3, 4.96. He has been exclusively a starter this year, but the results have been about the same: 3-3, 5.30 with 37 strikeouts and 27 walks over 56 innings. Peavey's fastball was 92-94 mph in high school, with a lot of effort, a big head whack and crossed legs. He has cleaned up his mechanics, though his fastball now sits 89-91. So some scouts think he's be best off in the bullpen, where he could go all-out for an inning or two at a time. Because Peavey could significantly improve his stock with a good junior season, it's easy to see him returning to Corvallis.
Perhaps Oregon State's most intriguing prospect is lefthander Kraig Sitton
. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds, the draft-eligible sophomore is rail thin. He started last summer in the West Coast Collegiate League but has
been used sparingly by the Beavers. He pitched 25 innings last year and
just 19 this spring. Believers see a late bloomer who could end up as a starter with a couple of winters in a professional weight room. Others aren't sure he'll ever fill out and see him as a bullpen specialist at best. He spent time on the junior-varsity team as a junior in high school and his fastball was 83-85 mph. He has mostly sat at 85-87 mph in college, though his velocity has improved this season and he now sits at 88-91. With a lot of deception and movement on his fastball, he gets a lot of swings and misses, even if his pitches often end up out of the strike zone. He also throws an average slider. The team that drafts Sitton will be dreaming on projection, banking that he can learn a changeup and pitch as a starter. Scouts expect him to return to Oregon State next season.
Teams are split on Oregon State shortstop Joey Wong
, a three-year starter and son of a former Beavers assistant coach. Those who like him call him "a ballplayer" and admit he's an acquired taste. "You can't appreciate Joey Wong from just one game," an American League scout said. "You have to see him for several games to fully appreciate what kind of player he is." Wong's detractors see him as a small singles hitter with no plus tools and no projection who will have to move to second base. He'd be a better prospect if he had more speed. His results also aren't overwhelming: Wong hit just .262/.366/.342 over 202 at-bats this season, and .342 is also his career slugging percentage.
Catcher Ryan Ortiz
has hit well, both in the Cape Cod League and during his time at Oregon State. Still, scouts see a long swing and ultimately view him as more of a backup if he makes it to the major leagues. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, a preseason third-team All-American, has solid athleticism and a quick release from behind the plate. He's just adequate defensively with an average arm, though he has consistent 1.95-2.0 second pop times and nabbed 32 percent of opposing basestealers this year. He's also handled velocity on the Beavers' talented staff.
Righty Mark Grbavac
has been used sparingly in relief only. He has thrown fewer than 100 innings during his four years in Corvallis and has been basically the same guy since he came in. He shows arm strength and a good curveball, but the undersized righty is limited to relief duties and will likely go about where he was drafted last year by the Mets—the 32nd round.
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The Northwest is full of athletic outfielders who also play football. Jake Locker aside, there's Kyrell Hudson in Vancouver, Wash., and then two more in Oregon. Astoria High outfielder Jordan Poyer
, like Hudson, plans to play both baseball and football at Oregon State. He was a high school quarterback and is listed at cornerback on the Beavers' football roster. His father played college football, and his mother played college softball. At 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, he's a little taller than Hudson but isn't wound as tight. Poyer doesn't quite have Hudson's speed, strength or arm, but has more natural actions as a baseball player—he's a little leaner and looser. He has a buggy-whip swing, with some power. If he has good predraft workouts, he could end up as a single-digit pick.
Thurston High outfielder Tym Pearson
is a little thicker than Hudson or Poyer at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds. He too was a quarterback and led his team to an undefeated record in the regular season, losing in the 5-A state championship game. He threw for 3,760 yards and 44 touchdowns and ran for another 877 with 19 touchdowns. He could step right in as the quarterback at Portland State, which uses a run-and-shoot offense just like his high school. Pearson is behind the curve on the diamond because he hadn't played baseball in four years until picking it back up as a junior. He has some stiffness and a football approach to the game. He also has the tools and is willing to give up his football scholarship for a chance to play baseball if the price is right. He's strong, is an average runner and has a strong arm—reaching up to 90 mph off the mound.
Senior righthander Jason Braun
at Corban College in Salem has interested scouts for his athleticism—he also played basketball at Corban his first three years there—and size at 6-foot-5 and 190 pounds. Braun has been up to 93 mph with his fastball from a low three-quarters arm slot. He also throws a slider and a split-finger fastball. Braun has not played summer ball and scouts aren't sure how much he loves the game. He didn't face high-quality competition this year and lost all three games he started against NAIA power Lewis-Clark State (Idaho), but could be an interesting project as a pick in the late teens or early 20s.
Coming into the year, Mount Hood CC first baseman Taylor Ard
was a relative unknown. He put himself on the map when he went out and hit .496/.581/.848 with 11 home runs over 125 at-bats with wood, earning NWAACC MVP honors. He's a 6-foot-2, 225-pound first baseman who lacks any other plus tools, though he does have soft hands and can pick throws out of the dirt well.
Righthander Chris Vitus
is 6-foot-3 with a fastball that touches 92 mph, but he had makeup issues in high school, didn't get good reviews last year at Mount Hood CC and transferred to Lane CC this year, where it was more of the same. Clackamas CC first baseman A.J. Christensen
is a big 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds. He hit well for the Cougars this year as a freshman with a wood bat and could be a late-round pick.