State Report: Dakotas

North Dakota, South Dakota

***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
By the Dakotas' standards, it's a strong year for talent. Shortstop Cole Frenzel has a chance to become North Dakota's highest-drafted high school player ever, but as usual, the region's best players will make more of a draft impact three or four years from now after attending top college programs. Frenzel has committed to Arizona, while South Dakota is sending three players to quality programs: righthander/shortstop Sam Wolff to San Diego, righthander Ryan Hander to Nebraska and lefty Aaron LaBrie to Wichita State.




1. Cole Frenzel, ss, Dickinson (N.D.) HS
2. Sam Wolff, rhp/ss, Stevens HS, Rapid City, S.D.
3. Ryan Hander, rhp, Lincoln HS, Sioux Falls, S.D.
4. Aaron LaBrie, lhp, Washington HS, Sioux Falls, S.D.
5. Caleb Thielbar, lhp, South Dakota State
6. Jesse Sawyer, 3b, South Dakota State
7. Jake Magner, 1b, North Dakota


Frenzel Could Make History

First baseman Zac Elgie, who's now at Kansas, surpassed Darin Erstad as North Dakota's highest prep draft pick ever last year, when the Athletics made him a 12th-round pick. Some talent evaluators say Cole Frenzel is a better prospect than Elgie because he hits lefthanded, has more bat speed and a purer swing. Six-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Frenzel offers big power and arm strength. His position is in question, as his below-average speed means he won't be able to play shortstop after high school. If he attends Arizona as expected, he'll probably move to third base, and he could try catching once he turns pro. He also starred in football and basketball and led Dickinson to the last two state Class A baseball championships.

Righthander Sam Wolff is the best of the three South Dakota high school pitchers who have scholarships from major college programs. He's not big at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, but he's athletic and has a quick arm that generates a lively fastball that sits in the high 80s and tops out at 92. Like most pitching stars in the Dakotas, he works mainly with his fastball and will have to develop his secondary pitches. Wolff played shortstop in high school and showed average speed, some pop in his righthanded bat and never-ending hustle. He's also a track and basketball standout. It's unlikely Wolff can be signed away from a commitment to San Diego.

The best college prospect in the region is senior lefthander Caleb Thielbar, who pitched a 10-inning complete game with 12 strikeouts to help South Dakota State beat Centenary in the Summit League tournament. He's a 6-foot, 185-pounder whose curveball is his best pitch. He has an 86-88 mph fastball that tops out at 91, and he projects as a reliever in pro ball. He tied a school record with 100 whiffs in 88 strikeouts this season.