State Report: New Mexico




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
The last time New Mexico had two players drafted within the top 200 picks was way back in 1996, when players in this year's class were just starting tee-ball. It could happen again this year, with a polished high school hitter and a live-armed reliever as the state's top two talents. The crop thins out pretty quickly after that, but the quality at the top warrants a relatively strong ranking for the state.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Max Walla, of, Albuquerque Academy (National Rank: 146)
2. Cole White, rhp, New Mexico (National Rank: 157)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

3. Brian Cavazos-Galvez, of, New Mexico
4. Jeff Farnham, c, New Mexico State
5. John Hesketh, lhp, New Mexico
6. Jacob Wilson, rhp, New Mexico State
7. Kenneth Giles, rhp, Rio Grande HS, Albuquerque
8. Austin House, rhp, La Cueva HS, Albuquerque
9. Mike Brownstein, 2b, New Mexico
10. Abraham Tarin, rhp, La Cueva HS, Albuquerque
11. Dane Hamilton, 3b, New Mexico
12. Bryan Marquez, 2b, New Mexico State
13. Cameron Monger, of New Mexico
14. Kevin Atkinson, 1b, New Mexico
15. Joseph Koerper, 3b, Onate HS, Las Cruces
16. Steven Florez, rhp, Las Cruces HS
17. Chris Velario, ss/cf, New Mexico JC
18. Sebastien Vendette, rhp, New Mexico State
19. Ryan Escarcega, rhp, New Mexico
20. Tyler Sturdevant, rhp, New Mexico State

SCOUTING REPORTS

MAX WALLA, OF, ALBUQUERQUE (N.M.) ACADEMY

Walla doesn't have the size, speed or arm that make him stand out on a baseball field. Then he steps into the batter's box and people stop what they're doing to watch. Walla can flat-out hit. Drawing comparisons to Jaff Decker, a supplemental first-round pick last year, Walla is similar in that he's 5-foot-11 and 195 pounds. Walla doesn't have the arm strength that Decker displays, but he has a better body. He's swam competitively since he was six years old and was part of his school's relay team that broke two state records this year. He has a compact swing and consistently hits balls on the sweet spot. Swinging from the left side, Walla generates considerable power for his size. Between his junior year in Albuquerque and the summer showcase circuit, Walla hit 51 home runs. His coach said that at a workout for some scouts this spring, they wanted to see him take 25 swings with a metal bat and then 25 with wood. He hit 18 home runs with the metal, switched to wood and hit 18 more over the fence. He was also a standout pitcher for his team this year, leading them to a state championship, but his future is as a hitter. A favorite of area scouts for his play and his makeup, Walla has been tough to crosscheck as a high school player in Albuquerque. If he grew up in the Phoenix area, like Decker, he would likely go a lot higher in the draft, but it's assumed he'll fall to around the fifth round, which could increase his chances of ending up at Oklahoma State.

COLE WHITE, RHP, NEW MEXICO

Like Washington's Brian Pearl, White is another third baseman that found success in short stints after moving to the mound. White came to New Mexico via Paris (Texas) JC, where he was a 30th-round selection by the Cubs last year. His fastball was consistently between 92-93 mph this spring, but he touched 95 on multiple occasions. White—who is a Grammy-nominated songwriter—has improved his control throughout the year, but needs to clean up the moving parts in his delivery to continue that refinement. His 83-84 mph slider is a little flat at this point, mostly sweeping across the plate and not getting the two-plane break scouts look for. As a reliever in New Mexico, he's been a tough player to crosscheck, which could affect where he goes in the draft. He'll likely join a minor league starting rotation to get more experience, but profiles as a reliever.

Into Thin Air

With the high altitude throughout the state, it can be difficult for scouts to get an accurate read on players in the Land of Enchantment. New Mexico is second only to the moon as a place for hitters to put up video game numbers, so it's no surprise New Mexico State ranked fourth in NCAA Division I in team batting average (.358) and first in OPS (1.090), while the University of New Mexico led the nation in batting (.369) and ranked sixth in OPS (1.004).

Senior outfielder Brian Cavazos-Galvez has been with coach Ray Birmingham since was a freshman, starting at New Mexico JC and then following his coach to New Mexico last year. At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, Cavazos-Galvez is strong and can muscle pitches down and away out of the yard to center field. His .392/.437/.737 line is distorted by his home park, as Albuquerque has a higher elevation than Denver. Cavazos-Galvez has an aggressive approach at the plate. He doesn't walk much, but makes good contact, so he doesn't strike out much either. He has average speed, good instincts on the bases and plays hard. He also has a hose in right field, firing 94 mph missiles to third base. His father, Balvino Galvez, pitched 10 games for the Dodgers in 1986. Cavazos-Galvez needs to work on the mental aspect of the game. He's hard on himself and often presses.

Senior second baseman Mike Brownstein was the Mountain West Conference player of the year after leading the country with 101 hits  and putting up a line of  .414/.486/.611. His performance warrants a chance, but he's undersized and limited to second base because of his arm strength and throwing angle. Junior outfielder Cameron Monger is 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and draws physical comparisons to Eric Byrnes. He spent his first two years at Howard JC in Texas before transferring to New Mexico this year. He wasn't even a starter but was a key player off the bench, putting his well-above-average speed to use late in games, stealing nine bases in as many attempts. Monger runs a 6.4-second 60-yard dash and stole 58 bases at Howard last year. John Hesketh is an undersized lefthander with fringy stuff and should be a later-round senior sign. The Canadian has been drafted twice before—in the 42nd round by the Blue Jays out of high school in 2004 and in the 38th round by the Rockies out of Vernon (Texas) JC in 2006. Hesketh helped himself out in his final start by going toe-to-toe with San Diego State's Stephen Strasburg in the Mountain West tournament. Third baseman Dane Hamilton and first baseman Kevin Atkinson are seniors who have both shown an ability to hit and could be late picks.

New Mexico State scored 10 or more runs in 34 of the team's 61 games. Leading the way offensively was senior shortstop Bryan Marquez, who hit .414/.534/.795. The Aggies played 60 percent of their games in the best hitter's park in the country, however, and Marquez hit just three of his 22 home runs on the road. The 6-foot, 190-pounder is a step slow, has a below-average arm and profiles as a second baseman. He does have strong hands and above-average bat speed.

Senior teammate Jeff Farnham also put up big numbers, hitting .371/.478/.612 with 13 home runs. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder mainly plays behind the plate, but has some athleticism and is versatile defensively. He also spent time in the outfield and at second base and was second on the team with 18 stolen bases. He's a good catch-and-throw guy with 90 mph throws down to second and consistent 1.8-second pop times. At the plate, he has a patient approach and can catch up to fastballs over the plate, but an arm bar exposes him to velocity inside and has scouts questioning whether he'll hit as a pro.

Senior righthander Jacob Wilson isn't physically imposing at 6 feet and 170 pounds and he didn't have much success as a traditional pitcher at Laredo (Texas) CC, so when he followed coach Chase Tidwell to New Mexico State he knew he had to try something different. Tidwell dropped him down to a true sidearm delivery and Wilson ran with it, touching 93 from that slot with major tilt. His breaking ball is just good enough at this point, but the fastball has a lot of movement and Tidwell believes it will destroy wood bats.

Sebastien Vendette is a senior righthander originally from Canada. He can dial his fastball up to 92 mph but toys with hitters by adding and subtracting from it, while also mixing in a changeup and slider that he can throw for strikes. Drafted twice already—in the 36th round by the Marlins in 2004 out of high school, then in the 35th round the following year by the Brewers out of junior college—Vendette is likely to be again be a late-round selection.

Center fielder Chris Velario is a native New Yorker relocated to New Mexico JC. He's a good athlete who saw a little time at shortstop in the fall, which intrigued scouts. He runs well and has a plus arm, but his overall game is still raw.

New Mexico rarely has high school players selected in the draft. Aside from Walla, there are a few interesting players, but most will likely end up in college. Righthander Kenneth Giles is the younger brother of Josh, who played in the Rangers system. Giles showed good velocity this spring, sitting 91-92 mph, and has touched 94 in the past. He throws only a fastball and changeup now and has dealt with tendinitis this spring. Righthander Steven Florez throws in the low 90s with a loose arm, but his mechanics and secondary pitches need refinement.

Righthander Austin House is tall and lanky with loads of room for projection at 6-foot-4 and 165 pounds. He's getting bigger and his velocity has been going up. Right now he's in the upper 80s, but the arm works well and there's room for more. He hasn't gotten a lot of innings on his high school team and will pitch at New Mexico. Another Lobos recruit is House's teammate, righthander Abraham Tarin. Long and lean at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, Tarin throws strikes and sits 88-91 mph with his fastball, but his secondary stuff needs work.

The Aggies' most intriguing in-state recruit is third baseman Joseph Koerper. A manchild at 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Koerper will eventually move across the diamond and has the bat to do so. He's a good athlete for his size. Having never played football before, he decided to go out for his high school team last fall and then led the state in receiving. He missed time with mononucleosis this year, and the coaches at New Mexico State can't wait to see what kind of power he produces in their park.