State Report: Colorado




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
The last time Colorado had back-to-back years with top 100 picks was in 1996 and 1997, with Shawn Chacon (Rockies) and Darnell McDonald (Orioles). With righthander Tyler Sample getting picked 80th overall last year (Royals), the Centennial State repeat the feat with a toolsy high school outfielder from Fort Collins. After that, the talent thins out and most of the other high school players are expected to go to college to prove they're not high-altitude flukes.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Jacob Stewart, of, Rocky Mountain HS, Fort Collins (National Rank: 74)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

2. Pierce Johnson, rhp, Faith Christian HS, Arvada
3. Geoff Baldwin, 1b, Grand Junction, HS
4. Alex Blackford, rhp, Cherry Creek HS
5. Bryan Peters, 3b/rhp, Rocky Mountain HS, Fort Collins
6. Micah Green, of, Cherokee Trail HS, Aurora
7. Mike Provencher, of, Mesa State College
8. Matt Bodenchuk, ss, Mesa State College
9. Luke Bublitz, rhp, Legacy HS, Broomfield

SCOUTING REPORTS

JACOB STEWART, OF, ROCKY MOUNTAIN HS, FORT COLLINS

Stewart is a phenomenal athlete—some say the best high school athlete ever to come from Colorado. He excelled on the football field, where he was a two-time all-state wide receiver. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder had 60 receptions for 945 yards last fall and had Division I scholarship offers not only in that sport, but basketball as well, where he was a standout forward. But baseball is his first love and will be his sole focus from now on. Described as an all-American kid with great makeup and work ethic, he shows potential in all five tools. He has exceptional speed and gets from home to first in four seconds flat from the right side. His throwing is passable and he has some work to do in the outfield, but scouts believe in the tools. The biggest question is his bat. While he's strong and shows good bat speed, he's raw at the plate, has inconsistent hand positioning and hasn't had much exposure to quality pitching. Stewart won't be easy to sign away from Stanford and will require patience in his development, but if he puts it all together he has a chance to be a special player.

(Mile) High Schoolers Are A Tough Read

The other Colorado prep player who made some noise this spring was first baseman Geoff Baldwin. He shows light-tower power from the left side of the plate in batting practice, but scouts view him as a four o'clock hitter. He doesn't have a load to his swing and it's all off his front foot, and scouts don't believe he's ready to hit professional pitching with a wood bat. Baldwin is committed to Nebraska next season.

Righthander Pierce Johnson missed two months of the season after a comebacker broke his hand. Before that, he was pitching at 92-93 mph and locating his fastball to both sides of the plate while mixing in a good breaking ball and changeup. The 6-foot-2, 165-pounder still has room to fill out and has beautiful mechanics that he repeats well. One scout compared him to Bret Saberhagen. If the limited looks this spring scare teams away, Johnson will head to Missouri State.

Righthander Alex Blackford is a small guy, listed at just 5-foot-10. He pitches in the upper-80s and has touched 90 mph in the past. He has a feel for a changeup, but it's his knee-buckling curveball that is his best pitch. Because of his size, he'll likely be picked in the teens and will be tough to sign away from Arizona State.

Stewart's teammate, Bryan Peters, plays third base and pitches righthanded, helping the team win their third-consecutive 5A state championship this year. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder is a great athlete that was the Gatorade Player of the Year in both football and baseball this year. Peters is committed to Nebraska for baseball and finished his high school career on the mound with a 21-0 record.

Outfielder Micah Green is a good athlete and a plus runner with a strong arm and above-average raw power, but like everyone else in Colorado, he hasn't faced consistently strong competition. He has the raws tools to be picked in the top 15 rounds, but will probably try to prove himself at Wichita State.

Righthander Derrick Bleeker has played shortstop and pitched for his school, but pro teams prefer the 6-foot-5, 200-pounder on the mound, where he's been 88-90 mph with his fastball. His breaking ball is currently below-average; he's committed to Arkansas. Luke Bublitz has shown arm strength in the past—up to 95 mph last summer—but he had problems this year, his velocity was down to 86-88 and he will likely end up at Nebraska.

Rocky Mountain Low

The state's flagship university, Colorado, doesn't have a baseball program, so most of the best talent in the state heads elsewhere to play in college. For the talent at smaller Colorado colleges, it was a down year, and one coach noted that a junior-college game that might draw 10-12 scouts in a normal year drew none this year.

Two players who might get a late-round chance played for Mesa State, which reached the Division II College World Series. Outfielder Mike Provencher hit .377/.453/.700 with 16 home runs over 207 at-bats this season. He hurt his ankle and was hobbled for about a month, yet still stole 17 bases. He has average tools, but is young for a junior, as his parents started him in school early.

Teammate Matt Bodenchuk also put up outstanding numbers for the Mavs, hitting .429/.524/.830 with 29 doubles and 16 home runs of his own. He plays shortstop now, but at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds he'll move to third at the next level. Bodenchuk used to pitch and missed last year after having Tommy John surgery, so he's already 24.