State Report: Nevada




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Most of the interest in Nevada this year comes from the high school ranks, where perennial powerhouse Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas is loaded with talent. After finishing the season with a 40-4 record and winning their fourth consecutive state championship, the Gaels should have several players selected to play professionally. Leading the way is first baseman Jeff Malm, who tied the national career hits record for a high schooler with 277.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Jeff Malm, 1b, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas (National Rank: 59)
2. Danny Reynolds, rhp, Durango HS, Las Vegas (National Rank: 183)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

3. Egan Smith, lhp, JC of Southern Nevada
4. Joey Rickard, of, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas
5. Chad Nading, rhp, Nevada-Las Vegas
6. Logan Odom, rhp, Western Nevada CC
7. Tyler Wagner, rhp, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas
8. Gabe Weidenaar, rhp, JC of Southern Nevada
9. Stephen Manthie, rhp, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas
10. R.J. Santigate, ss, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas
11. Lance Ray, of, Western Nevada CC
12. Jordan Van Hoosier, ss, Green Valley HS, Henderson
13. Brian Barnett, of, Western Nevada CC
14. Kris Kaplan, of, Cimarron-Memorial HS, Las Vegas
15. Tyler Hanks, rhp, JC of Southern Nevada
16. Josh Moody, lhp, Western Nevada CC
17. Corey Hales, rhp, Nevada-Las Vegas
18. Miguel Ortiz, rhp, Las Vegas HS
19. Dyllon Nuernberg, rhp, Cimarron-Memorial HS, Las Vegas
20. Marvin Campbell, of, JC of Southern Nevada
21. J.J. Sferra, of, Nevada-Las Vegas
22. Travis Simas, c, Nevada
23. Westley Moss, of, Nevada
24. Jerome Pena, c, Western Nevada CC
25. Matt Bowman, 2b, Nevada

SCOUTING REPORTS

JEFF MALM, 1B, BISHOP GORMAN HS, LAS VEGAS

The first thing out of everyone's mouth when talking about Malm is some variation of: "That guy can hit." Few high school players in the draft have a better track record of performance than Malm, who does it from the left side. Everywhere he goes, he hits, whether it's as the youngest player on the USA Baseball junior national team—where he saw more time at first base than Eric Hosmer—or as the only underclassman at the 2007 Cape Cod High School Classic. Playing for one of the nation's top high school teams, Malm was leading the state of Nevada with 15 home runs heading into the playoffs. The question is whether he will be able to hit for the same power with a wood bat. At a soft-bodied 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, he's limited to first base and will need to produce power. He has a good arm—sitting at 87-89 mph as a pitcher—but can't play the outfield. As a lifelong Southern California fan with a long personal relationship with head coach Chad Kreuter, Malm's commitment to the Trojans is strong.

DANNY REYNOLDS, RHP, DURANGO HS, LAS VEGAS

One of the biggest pop-ups in the southwest this year was Danny Reynolds, a righthander at Durango High in Las Vegas. Reynolds has the stigma of being an undersized righty—5-foot-11 and 160 pounds—which will scare some teams away. Durango head coach Sam Knapp has been a Reynolds believer for years, always telling scouts that he had the hand speed to show bigger velocity numbers. This year, Reynolds proved him right. His fastball was 86-88 mph in the fall, but something clicked for him this spring and he was consistently sitting 93-95. He also has a slider that is 77-81 with some late bite and will mix in a slower curveball. There's some effort to his mechanics—he has an extremely fast tempo, turns his back to the hitters and has some spinoff, ala Francisco Rodriguez. Reynolds has also run on his school's cross-country team and has an intense work ethic—even after the lights have been turned off at his stadium after games, Reynolds can still be found on the field, running poles. Committed to Dixie State College, he's considered signable and will likely be selected in the top five rounds.

Bishop Gorman Loaded With Talent

Malm isn't the only pro prospect on the Bishop Gorman squad. Committed to Arizona, outfielder Joey Rickard has drawn comparisons to the Phillies' Shane Victorino as a gritty player who doesn't shine in any one area but can do a little bit of everything. Rickard isn't a switch-hitter like Victorino, but he is a leadoff type with a patient approach. One scout recalled watching Rickard work opposing pitchers for 47 pitches over four at-bats. He doesn't profile for a lot of power, but makes contact and shows above-average aggressiveness. His speed allows him to stretch base hits and cover ground in center field. His brother John was a 38th-round pick by the Angels last year, and Joey is expected to go in the sixth-10th round.

Righthander Tyler Wagner was used sparingly this spring but has good stuff. The 6-foot-5, 175-pounder was 90-93 mph in the fall with a good feel for a breaking ball. He's committed to Utah but wants to play professionally. Righthander Stephen Manthie is an Arizona commit and was inconsistent this spring. He has a bad body and performs inconsistently, but when he's good he's really good—sitting at 92 mph with his fastball and pounding the zone with three other pitches: slider, curveball and changeup. His father is a doctor and education is important to the family, so he'll likely end up at school.

Shortstop R.J. Santigate has always tantalized scouts with his frame. At 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, the lefthanded hitter has always been more projection than production, but this year he turned it on and hit like scouts always believed he could. He has grown up around the game, and his father coached Rockies pitcher Jason Marquis and Tottenville High to two consecutive New York City Public Schools Athletic League titles in 1995 and 1996. Santigate is expected to end up at Long Beach State.

Cimarron Memorial outfielder Kris Kaplan grew into his body this year. Now 6-foot-3 and 190-pounds, he's a good athlete for his size, runs a 6.8-second 60-yard dash, shows raw power and has the arm to play right field. He's committed to Nevada-Las Vegas, and coaches there see a little bit of alum Ryan Ludwick in him. His teammate, righthander Dyllon Nuernberg generated buzz on the mound, where he was touching 93 mph, before he broke his wrist. Scouts said he was putting the word out that he wants to sign instead of going to school at Southern Utah.

Green Valley shortstop Jordan Van Hoosier is a tightly wound 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds and was nicked up all season. When healthy, he's a plus runner with plus power, but he'll probably move to second base down the line. He's committed to San Diego State.

Miguel Ortiz is a long and loose righthander who has been up to 93 mph late in the season but is immature.

Interesting College Crop

Nevada has a few players who could be late-round picks. Outfielder Westley Moss has speed, can cover ground as a center fielder and makes highlight-reel catches. He's skinny at 6-foot-2 and 165 pounds and doesn't presently have a lick of power. Senior catcher Travis Simas is a physical, 6-foot-5, 205-pounder. He's a solid defender with a strong arm and puts up consistent 1.9-second pop times with accurate throws. He's a good leader and calls his own game, but his swing is long and his offensive production took a nosedive in the second half of the season. Second baseman Matt Bowman is the runt of the Wolf Pack litter at 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds, but led the team with 10 home runs and could be a senior sign.

Draft-eligible sophomore Chad Nading is spending time in his fourth state in as many years. He grew up in Alaska, redshirted his freshman year at Oregon State, transferred to Skagit Valley (Wash.) CC and spent this year with UNLV. He's a 6-foot-6, 215-pound righthander who has been up to 93 mph, repeats his delivery and has a good breaking ball.

Senior righthander Corey Hales has been inconsistent but has a lot of life in his arm, getting his fastball up to 93 mph with some sink. An offensive lineman in high school, he has lost about 30 pounds since coming to UNLV but still stands an imposing 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds. He mixes in a slider and changeup that both have good depth. He had some shoulder tenderness this spring and has a stiff delivery that needs to be cleaned up.

Arizona State transfer J.J. Sferra is a slender 5-foot-10 and 155 pounds. For a small player with a contact-first approach, he's not a protypical burner and stole just five bases this year. The senior has a short, flat stroke and should get a chance at the next level as a late-round selection. Senior outfielder Ryan Thornton can catch up to a fastball, but that's about it. He struggles with breaking balls and doesn't have any other tools.

The College of Southern Nevada has two interesting arms in Egan Smith and Gabe Weidenaar. As a 6-foot-4, 205-pound lefthander, Smith is the better prospect of the two and pitches at 87-90 mph with his fastball. He scrapped his curveball and moved down to a three-quarters arm slot to focus on a slider instead. Smith, whose brother Jordan pitches in the Reds system, is committed to Arkansas if he doesn't go pro. Weidenaar is also 6-foot-4, but is a righthander and a little trimmer at 190 pounds. Coaches at Southern Nevada tried to get him to use more traditional pitching mechanics, but he lost his stuff and command so they let him go back to what works. His mechanics have been described as Japanese, with a windup that includes a big step back with a pause and his hands way over his head. He pitches at 88-90 mph and has been up to 93 with movement and is working to improve his changeup and slider.

Outfielder Marvin Campbell is a 6-foot-4, 205-pounder who hits from the left side. After playing quarterback and power forward in high school, he's focusing on baseball for the first time, and he's the kind of athlete that can make the game look easy. Though he's still raw, he was the best hitter for Southern Nevada this season. Righthander Tyler Hanks was inconsistent, but touched 93 mph and showed a good slider in just 15 innings of work.

Western Nevada has seven players committed to D-I programs next year, though not all of them profile as pro prospects. The best prospect is outfielder Lance Ray, who is a 6-foot-1, 188-pound lefthanded hitter. A pure hitter with power, Ray hits to all fields with aluminum, but his power will be to the pull side with wood. He sees the ball well and walks more than he strikes out. While not the fastest guy, he's an intelligent baserunner who gets good jumps and knows when to take the extra base. He's committed to Kentucky. Righthander Logan Odom is 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds who battled elbow tendinitis early in the season. His fastball sits at 90-91 mph and has touched 93. He throws from a low three-quarters arm slot and has a plus slider that often causes hitters to jump out of the way before it breaks across the plate. He's committed to Southern California, and a pro team may follow him in the Jayhawk League this summer to decide whether to sign him.

Lefthander Josh Moody missed eight weeks with a broken pinkie finger. He has fringe-average stuff but gets good results. He's expected to head to Arizona State. Outfielder Brian Barnett has explosive bat speed that generates tremendous power to all fields. He can get fooled on a pitch and still muscle it out of the park. A state weightlifting champ in high school, the 5-foot-11, 205-pounder has a rock-solid body and can clean 300 pounds. A shortstop in high school, he may move to second base in pro ball. Jerome Pena also was a high school shortstop, and he played right field and pitched a little last year. This season he went behind the plate for the first time and showed promise. He's athletic back there with a strong arm. A switch-hitter, Pena came on strong late in the season, hitting home runs in both games against Central Arizona in to clinch a berth for Western Nevada in the Junior College World Series. He's committed to Texas Christian but is considered signable.