State Report: Arizona

***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
At all levels, this year's Arizona crop is strong at the top, then drops off precipitously. It's also a draft class very heavy on pitching, with slabbists as seven of the nine Arizona prospects in BA's Top 200 Prospects.

As usual, Arizona State has the best crop of talent, and the Sun Devils head to super regional play in hopes of returning to Omaha. In Arizona's rich junior college ranks, both Yavapai and Central Arizona were loaded with talent but missed the Junior College World Series. Top 200 prospects battled in the state's top high school classification, with Jake Barrett's Desert Ridge High defeating Tommy Joseph's Horizon High for the 5-A-II state championship.


1. Mike Leake, rhp, Arizona State (National Rank: 14)
2. Tommy Joseph, c, Horizon HS, Scottsdale (National Rank: 49)
3. Jason Kipnis, of, Arizona State (National Rank: 61)
4. Jason Stoffel, rhp, Arizona (National Rank: 62)
5. Jake Barrett, rhp, Desert Ridge HS, Mesa (National Rank: 106)
6. Carlos Ramirez, c, Arizona State (National Rank: 156)
7. Devin Fuller, rhp, Chandler-Gilbert CC (National Rank: 190)
8. Randy Henry, rhp, South Mountain CC (National Rank: 195)
9. Trent Stevenson, rhp, Brophy Prep HS, Phoenix (National Rank: 197)


10. Josh Spence, lhp, Arizona State
11. Jimmy Patterson, lhp/of, Central Arizona JC
12. Kevin Gelinas, lhp, Central Arizona JC
13. Thomas Lemke, rhp, Northwest Christian HS, Phoenix
14. Dillon Baird, 1b, Arizona
15. Sergio Burruel, c, Browne HS, Phoenix
16. Matt Helm, 3b, Hamilton HS, Chandler
17. Preston Guilmet, rhp, Arizona
18. Parker Markel, rhp, Mountain Ridge HS, Glendale
19. Aaron Altherr, of, Agua Fria HS, Avondale
20. Josh Dahl, rhp, Deer Valley HS, Glendale
21. Merrill Kelly, rhp, Yavapai JC
22. James Pazos, lhp, Highland HS, Gilbert
23. Michael Petello, of, Scottsdale JC
24. Zach Cleveland, rhp, Central Arizona JC
25. Casey Upperman, rhp, Notre Dame Prep HS, Scottsdale
26. Xorge Carillo, c, Central Arizona JC
27. Anthony Haase, rhp, Cochise JC
28. Brett Sowers, 3b, Yavapai JC
29. Trent Wilson, rhp, Desert Vista HS, Phoenix
30. Jason Franzblau, rhp, Arizona State
31. Breck Ashdown, rhp, Catalina Foothills HS, Tucson
32. Devyn Rivera, rhp, Chandler-Gilbert CC
33. Nico Rosthenhausler, of, South Mountain JC
34. Dwight Childs, c, Arizona
35. Rafael Valenzuela, ss, Arizona
36. Chase Johnson, rhp, South Mountain JC
37. Cory Burns, rhp, Arizona
38. Kirby Yates, rhp, Yavapai JC
39. Cam Schiller, ss, Yavapai JC
40. Kole Calhoun, of, Arizona State
41. Brad Glenn, 3b, Arizona
42. Bobby Rinard, of, Yavapai JC
43. Rick Anton, lhp, Yavapai JC
44. Joey DeMichelle, 2b, Arcadia HS, Phoenix
45. Kevin Lovelace, ss, Central Arizona JC
46. Raoul Torrez, 2b, Arizona State
47. Dean Espy, 3b, South Mountain JC
48. Riley Welch, rhp, Yavapai JC
49. Jordan Luvisi, lhp, Notre Dame Prep HS, Scottsdale
50. Josh Garcia, 1b, South Mountain JC
51. Claudio Bavera, lhp, Cochise JC
52. Trey Ford, 3b, Chaparral HS, Scottsdale
53. Ryan Downs, rhp, Mesa HS



Few pitchers were as consistently good this season as Arizona State righthander Mike Leake. That shouldn't come as a surprise—he's been carving up the Pac-10 for three years. A seventh-round draft pick by the Athletics out of Fallbrook (Calif.) High in 2006, Leake instead headed for Tempe and has pitched his way into first-round consideration. Listed at 6 feet, 180 pounds, what he lacks in pure physicality, he makes up for in athleticism and results. In addition to baseball, Leake played soccer, football and basketball in high school and could be a position player at Arizona State if he wasn't so valuable on the mound. Leake pounds the strike zone with a fastball that sits 88-92 mph. He can dial it up to 94, but prefers to work at lower speeds to get more movement. Throwing from a lower three-quarters arm slot, he gets a lot of armside run and sink on his fastball that results in a lot of groundballs. He also throws a changeup, slider and cutter that grade out as above-average offerings. Leake is a smart pitcher with a bulldog mentality on the mound.


Hailing from the same Horizon High program that has produced Giants righthander Tim Alderson and Angels shortstop Brandon Wood, Joseph likely won't be a first-rounder like those two. But he shouldn't lag far behind. Having split time between catching and first base in the past, Joseph is behind the plate full time this year. At 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, the Arizona recruit is a big kid with tree trunks for thighs. He has worked on his defensive fundamentals to stay behind the plate as a pro and is above-average in both arm strength and accuracy. He's been sitting lower and working on the mechanics for blocking. With comparisons to both Mike Napoli and Kelly Shoppach, Joseph's calling card is his bat. In the 2009 Power Showcase, an offseason home run derby, Joseph showed off his well-above-average power by putting a few balls in the upper deck at Tropicana Field, and hit a 465-foot bomb that fluttered the American flag hanging from the catwalk in the left-center field power alley.


Kipnis turned down fourth-round money from the Padres last year as a draft-eligible sophomore, and it's looking like a good decision, as he'll likely be a higher selection this time around. Kipnis redshirted at Kentucky as a freshman and was suspended from the team as a sophomore, but he has impressed the Sun Devils with his work ethic and was Pac-10 newcomer of the year in 2008. He has been even better this season, leading the team in batting, on-base percentage and slugging, as well as stolen bases. Kipnis doesn't have one standout tool, but can do a little bit of everything. He has a patient approach and a line-drive swing. He has shown he can hit quality pitching, though he doesn't profile for big power with a wood bat, making him a potential tweener. While his defense in center field has improved, he doesn't have the range to stay there long-term—yet he might not hit enough to man a corner spot. He may also get a chance to try second base.


The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Stoffel looked like a no-doubt first-rounder entering the season, and while he still flashes a fastball that sits 93-95 mph and a slider that can be unhittable, he has been inconsistent. His fastball and slider have straightened out and lost a few ticks at times this season, and his numbers this season aren't those of a dominant reliever. But Stoffel became Arizona's career saves leader this season with 26 and counting, passing Mark Melancon. Scouts who have seen him good put Stoffel in the same class as Arizona's first-round pitchers from last season, Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth. He's a fierce competitor but falls into the trap of many relievers in pitching to the situation. He pitches better in close games, and can lose focus when he comes in with a cushion. Some question Stoffel's decision to pass on pitching in the Cape Cod League or for Team USA the past two summers.


A horse at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, Barrett made the showcase rounds last summer and fall, first with Team USA, then to the Area Code Games and then down to Jupiter, Fla. for the World Wood Bat Tournament with the Rays scout team. Despite pitching nearly year-round, he hasn't showed signs of slowing up this spring. The Arizona State recruit has pitched at 90-92 mph with his fastball and can dial it up to 94, leading his team to a 5-A-II state championship. It's a heavy fastball and Barrett is aggressive on the mound. He has tightened up his curveball that he throws in the upper 70s, and he can throw it for strikes. He hasn't needed a changeup much as an amateur, but it has the potential to be an average pitch as it continues to develop. Barrett is a hard worker who has gotten into better shape this spring.


At 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds, Ramirez turns off scouts with his soft body. But he has hit with authority everywhere he's played, and his defense gets solid reviews. Ramirez was a 34th-round draft pick by the Angels last year after hitting .386/.471/.660 with a wood bat for Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) CC. He turned them down and spent the summer in the Northwoods League, leading the league with 10 home runs and earning league MVP honors. While coach Pat Murphy used two catchers last season, Ramirez came in and made a seamless transition, quickly learning the new staff and starting every game this season. He calls his own games and worked with two of the best college pitchers in the country this year. While he's a good receiver, his arm is average at best. The wear and tear of catching didn't slow him down at the plate, as Ramirez hit .344/.449/.693 with 17 home runs during the regular season. He also has the swagger and leadership you look for in a catcher, getting respect from opposing coaches who say he's the kind of player you hate on another team but would love to have on your own team.


Fuller redshirted his freshman year at Arizona State because he was academically ineligible. Transferring to Chandler-Gilbert this season, Fuller has shown flashes of the talent that made him a 14th-round selection by the Devil Rays out of Gilbert (Ariz.) High in 2007. His fastball has been anywhere from 88-94 mph this spring and he gets a lot of run and sink on it. His secondary stuff is a bit behind and he's been going back and forth between throwing a curveball and a slider, although the rotation on his breaking pitches is getting tighter and he shows some deception with his changeup. The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder went 3-2, 2.36 with 72 strikeouts and 21 walks over 53 innings for the Coyotes this season.


Hailing from Arnett, Okla., Henry was slated to attend Texas Tech after high school. But he blew out his elbow, missed his senior season after having Tommy John surgery and ended up at South Mountain CC. He's played second base for the Cougars this year, but his future is likely on the mound. At 6-foot-3, Henry has clean mechanics from a three-quarter arm slot. Just 18 months removed from surgery, head coach Todd Eastin gave Henry a very soft landing this year, allowing him to pitch out of the bullpen. Over nine games, Henry pitched just 11 innings this season. Because of his limited time on the mound this year, Henry has been tough to see, but those that have seen him walked away impressed. His fastball has shown good life, sitting at 90 mph every time out and even touching 94-96 late in the year. While Henry threw mostly fastballs and changeups this year, when he regained the confidence to throw a breaking ball, scouts said it was an above-average pitch with great tilt and snap.


Stevenson has the kind of body scouts dream on. In 2005, Stevenson was a 5-foot-10, 125-pound shortstop. He's sprouted up considerably since his freshman year and now stands 6-foot-6. Still rail thin at 165 pounds, he's been pitching at 88-91 mph, but was up to 93 in the fall. He also showed great command in the fall, but has been inconsistent this year. His slider has looked sharp at times, but has also been inconsistent and he has a tendency to drop his arm slot when throwing the pitch. He's a bit of a wild card in the draft. As a player who is still growing into his body and is relatively new to pitching, teams are baking on the projection with Stevenson. Scouts and college recruiters reported that he seemed to be a bit overwhelmed with the attention he received this spring and think he may end up at college.

College Crop Thins Quickly

Arizona State lefthander Josh Spence is hard for hitters—and scouts—to figure out. The Australian won 27 games in two years for Central Arizona JC and was a 25th-round draft pick of the Diamondbacks last year. He came to ASU instead, and few pitchers put up better numbers, as he was 8-1, 2.37, with 99 strikeouts against 24 walks in 80 innings. His fastball peaks at 87 mph, and he uses it well to set up his four offspeed pitches: a changeup, curveball, slider and cutter. He'll throw any of the pitches in any count and any sequence. He throws from a lower three-quarters arm slot and will even throw some of his breaking balls sidearm. Hitters never have comfortable at-bats against him, often walking back to the dugout shaking their heads. But it's not just smoke and mirrors with Spence. His changeup and slider are legitimate plus pitches, and scouts say he shows the hand speed with his slider to indicate that his fastball velocity could improve. Spence pitches with a lot of confidence and never gives in to hitters. Scouts love his makeup; they're just not certain how his repertoire will play in pro ball. He missed a couple of weeks late in the season with a strained ligament in the middle finger of his left hand, but returned by the postseason. He'll likely be drafted by a more statistically inclined team or one with extra picks.

Senior righthander Jason Franzblau has pitched in a variety of roles for the Sun Devils. He's undersized and his fastball's a tick below average at 87-90 mph, but he has a plus slider and had the third-lowest ERA on the team behind Leake and Spence. Junior outfielder Kole Calhoun hit 18 home runs for Yavapai last year and was decent for the Sun Devils this season, but will probably end up as a senior sign next year. Infielder Raoul Torrez didn't hit as well as expected this spring.

A 22nd-round pick by the Athletics last season, righthander Preston Guilmet returned to Arizona for his senior year and pitched better than his 6-5 record would indicate. He struck out 93 and walked 34 over 91 innings while maintaining a 3.74 ERA. His stuff is essentially the same as last year, with a fastball in the 87-90 mph range. He mixes his pitches well, spots his fastball and changeup and knows how to pitch. For breaking balls, he throws a slider and a split-finger fastball, and while they can be difficult to tell apart they are both out pitches at times.

Catcher Dwight Childs has handled good pitchers during his three-year stint at Arizona. He was also a member of the 2005 USA Baseball junior team that included Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson, Lars Anderson and Grant Green, among others. After batting .193 last season, he hit the weight room in the offseason to get stronger and batted .331/.385/.529 this season. Still, scouts aren't sure he'll hit enough to be a big league regular. His calling card is his defense. A catcher his whole life, he's comfortable behind the plate and blocks balls well. With a plus arm and pop times in the 1.8- to 2.0-second range, some scouts have even been tempted to try him out on the mound.

Playing first base for the Wildcats is 6-foot-2, 215-pound Dillon Baird, a high school shortstop who is nimble around the bag and adept at picking balls out of the dirt. He's a good runner and has one of the strongest arms on the team, but it's his bat that's been the most impressive this season. Baird led the Pac-10 in batting as part of a .433/.504/.716 line, giving him the sixth-best single-season batting average in school history. Scouts aren't sure he'll be able to duplicate those numbers in pro ball, however.

Senior righthander Cory Burns pitched over the top last year, then dropped down to sidearm this year and is 88-90 mph with Wiffle Ball movement that makes him really hard to square up. He also has a decent slider and changeup and should be a late-round pick. Shortstop Rafael Valenzuela  was drafted out of high school in 2006 (25th round, Royals), then was an all-conference player at Cochise JC before transferring to Arizona. He's average defensively but can play anywhere you put him, and scouts like his lefthanded swing. Third baseman Brad Glenn is lucky to be alive after he severed an artery in his right wrist when he fell through a glass coffee table playing video games in the offseason. He recovered and hit .256 with 12 doubles and nine home runs this year, so he could be a senior sign.

Best Juco Talent In The Country

Central Arizona JC has three quality prospects in a state noted for strong juco play. Jimmy Patterson played both ways for Central Arizona. He's a righthanded hitter and a lefthanded pitcher, and most scouts like him better as a position player. He has a good swing with some pop that allowed him to hit 21 doubles and seven home runs with wood over 193 at-bats this year. He has above-average bat speed and plays the game hard. Patterson will be relegated to a corner outfield spot as a pro and could hit .270 with 15-20 home runs a year. He should contribute immediately at Arizona State if he doesn't sign.

Lefthander Kevin Gelinas passes the eye test on the mound with a 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame. Head coach Jon Wente has been taking it easy with Gelinas because he only threw nine innings last season and came down with the flu for two weeks in early April. Gelinas has a firm fastball at 90-93 mph, and a slider that has shown flashes of being a plus pitch but is inconsistent. He also has a developing changeup and can be overpowering when he's commanding his pitches.

Catcher Xorge Carillo has a soft body that earns comparisons to Bengie Molina. While he's a bigger guy, he's a good receiver with an average arm. He makes consistent contact and has some gap power but doesn't run well. He's committed to Arizona State, where he would be a lighter hitter, but a better defender than Carlos Ramirez.

Cochise brings in players from all over the globe, and one of its prospects is from Venezuela.Keep an eye on lefthander Claudio Bavera as a potential late-round pick. He's a little undersized at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, but that's less of an issue for lefthanders. Bavera generally pitches around 86 mph, but he can reach back and dial it up to 90-91 for short stints. He has a hard breaking ball that he aims at the back foot of righthanded batters, and an average changeup. Bavera has a rubber arm and very good work ethic.

Righthander Anthony Haase is a slender, athletic, 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds. His fastball sits at 90-93 mph, but he has trouble locating it and he drops his elbow when he throws his secondary pitches—a curveball and a changeup. He was a 38th rounder by the Rays last year out of high school in New Mexico, but could improve his draft stock by returning to school for another year.

Short righthander Zach Cleveland has a fastball that tops out at 93 mph and sits 90-92, setting up a devastating slider. He had trouble throwing strikes last year for the Vaqueros, but cut down his free passes this season. Shortstop Kevin Lovelace rarely strikes out, peppers the gaps and is a solid defender.

Scottsdale CC center fielder Michael Petello is an instinctive defender who can cover ground in the outfield and has a plus arm. The 6-foot, 185 pounder runs a 6.8-second 60-yard dash and shows good raw power. He's also regarded as a great teammate. He's committed to play for New Orleans next season.

South Mountain righthander Chase Johnson is 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds. There's some effort to his delivery and he struggles to repeat his mechanics, but he can dial it up to 93 mph. The Cougars also have three hitters who could get selected. Outfielder Nico Rosthenhausler's father Ray was a first-round pick of the Mariners in 1984. Nico is a stocky 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, yet has trimmed down significantly after busting his tail over the summer to lose the 50 pounds he ate on as a freshman. He's a lefthanded hitter who uses the entire field and is committed to Arizona.

Third baseman Dean Espy is a raw player with an unorthodox batting stance, which is surprising considering his father Duane is a hitting coach in the Rockies system. Espy starts with his hands down near his hip, and sometimes his swings look like he's never played the game before. His swing does stay in the zone and he hits line drives to all fields. First baseman Josh Garcia started the season slowly, but committing to Arizona seemed to lift a weight off his shoulders and he started to rake. He played last year with a broken foot, which sapped his power. This year his swing was back and he was driving the ball.

Opposing coaches gushed about righthander Merrill Kelly—likely because he shut down their teams and put up fantastic numbers this season. Scouts' reviews weren't quite as glowing. His fastball is 87-91 mph and his arm action is rigid. He has good command and mixes in a little breaking ball, but it's his changeups that are his out pitches. One is a traditional circle change with some sink, and he freezes hitters when he lops 20 mph off and floats a borderline eephus up to the plate. His brother Reid pitches in the Astros organization; Merrill is committed to Arizona State.

Yavapai third baseman Brett Sowers has tremendous raw power. Head coach Sky Smeltzer said Sowers hit a ball over Central Arizona's batter's eye this year, a feat he's seen done with aluminum twice—and Sowers did it with wood. He profiles as an offensive second baseman at the pro level and committed to Oral Roberts. Shortstop Cam Schiller hit .363/.438/.451 without a home run, but his numbers could get significantly better if he gives up switch-hitting. He was exposed as a righthanded hitter this year and may need stick to the left side. He has the range and arm strength to stick at shortstop and some teams like the package, but maybe not enough to buy him away from Utah. Right fielder Bobby Rinard has a good arm and can run, but he's raw offensively. He has the athleticism and tools to be a late-round pick, though he'll more likely end up at Southern California.

Lefthander Rick Anton put up great numbers, but he's undersized with below-average stuff and will need to prove himself at the next level to get a chance. He's also commited to Utah, where former Yavapai pitching coach Mike Crawford is now an assistant. Righthander Kirby Yates is in his second year back from Tommy John surgery, and his velocity was back in the 90-93 mph range. At 5-foot-11, he's five inches shorter than his brother Tyler, who pitches for the Pirates. He's committed to Mesa State, but is already 22 and wants to go out and play everyday. Righthander Riley Welch also has big league connections, as his father Bob pitched in the majors for 17 years. The freshman has a projectable body but needs to get stronger and would benefit from another year in college.

Pitching-Heavy High School Crop Disappointed

Righthander Thomas Lemke stares down at hitters from atop the mound. He has a great pitcher's frame at 6-foot-7 and 205 pounds, but has gone backward this season. Sitting at 89-92 mph in the fall, his fastball was down to 85-88 this spring. He doesn't use his height well, and his fastball comes in flat. Scouts also question his passion and say he looks lethargic on the field. He's reportedly asking for $500,000, so teams will likely let him head to Nebraska and check back in three years.

Righthander Parker Markel had arm problems in the fall and was recovering from them this spring, so his stuff was down a little bit. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder still had enough stuff get results. He was throwing just 82 mph in a fall bullpen session, but his stuff came back as the spring progressed—he touched 91 mph—and he gets a lot of sink on his fastball from his three-quarters arm slot. He could add velocity as he matures. He has clean mechanics, the ball jumps out of his hand and he competes well. He'll head to Yavapai if he doesn't sign. 

Outfielder Aaron Altherr has a tall and lean 6-foot-3 frame. He hasn't played a lot of baseball, and the game doesn't come easy to him. He's a project, but has athleticism you can't teach. He's committed to Arizona.

Righthander Josh Dahl has a small frame and a big fastball. The 6-foot, 180-pounder consistently throws 93-94 mph, and he has a reputation for wanting to see how hard he can throw, not how well he can pitch. There's some effort to his mechanics, and he has trouble consistently finding the strike zone, but he's young for his grade, has arm strength and can spin a breaking ball. He's committed to Central Arizona.

Another pitcher who went backward this spring—and it was a disappointing theme in Arizona—was James Pazos, though he's still the best prep lefthander and one of the few power lefties in the state. Committed to Arizona State, the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder is aggressive and inconsistent, in part because he has never focused on baseball. He is a strong athlete who also played football and wrestled. Pazos was a big name coming into the spring and drew about 30 scouts to his first game, but many left after the first inning unimpressed. He used to have a Dontrelle Willis-esque delivery, with arms and legs flying everywhere. It was unconventional, but it created deception. He toned it down this spring and lost some effectiveness, though he was up to 91 mph by the end of the season. His secondary pitches need work, and teams may want him to do that with the Sun Devils.

Third baseman Matt Helm entered the season as the best high school position player in the state, then dropped back after he spent most of the year injured. He hurt his knee when he stepped in a hole running a 60-yard dash at a workout. He got back into games late in the year, then injured his ankle in a collision at the plate and ended up in a boot. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder is a good hitter with some power. He comes from a good family and school is important. Combine that with the lost year and it's tough to see a team signing him away from Arizona.

Righthander Casey Upperman is another Arizona commitment, and he's most noted for the violence of his mechanics. While some pitchers have a head whack, one scout said the 6-foot, 175-pound Upperman has an entire upper-body whack. He finishes his delivery essentially looking under his armpit into center field, sort of like a righthanded Hideki Okajima. Upperman pitches at 90-94 and maintains his velocity throughout games. His offspeed stuff is all right, but not quite ready for pro ball. Unlike a lot of the pitchers in Arizona, his signability is in sync with his talent. His teammate, lefthander Jordan Luvisi doesn't have the arm strength of fellow southpaw James Pazos, but is a better pure pitcher with three pitches he throws for strikes. He is committed to UC Santa Barbara.

Catcher Sergio Burruel wasn't a big name coming into the season, but got noticed when he hit 15 home runs in 27 games. His body is soft, similar to Yadier Molina, so he's not athletic behind the plate and will never be a threat on the bases. He has arm strength and can drive balls out of the yard. His receiving needs work, but he's bilingual, has soft hands and shows good leadership ability. He's thrown around some bonus figures that scouts think are too high, but has been crosschecked and could go in the top 10 rounds.

Righthander Trent Wilson has a projectable frame at 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds. He pitches at 88-90 mph with good sinking action in to righthanded batters. The Chandler-Gilbert recruit has easy mechanics and mixes in a change, a curveball and a slider.

Breck Ashdown is an imposing 6-foot-4, 210-pound righthander committed to Oregon State. While his fastball velocity is currently below-average, his frame suggests there's more there and he has shown the makings of a good curveball.

Joey DeMichelle has always been a good lefthanded hitter. He led the state in batting last year as a junior and hit well with wood in the summer and fall showcase circuit. The question for DeMichelle is where he ends up defensively. At 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, he played all over the infield in high school, but he may try catching as a pro or at Arizona State.

Third baseman Trey Ford has a short, line-drive stroke but profiles better at second base. He is committed to Chandler-Gilbert next year, as is 6-foot righthander Ryan Downs, who gets good sink on his 86-89 mph fastballs.