State Report: Nebraska




THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Nebraska's two NCAA Division I programs offer little in the way of draft talent this year. Nebraska had a losing record for the first time in 12 years as sophomore-eligible righthander Mike Nesseth's inconsistency symbolized the team's struggles. Creighton nearly won the Missouri Valley Conference tournament, but did so more with solid fundamental play than any standout individual talents. The Cornhuskers have commitments from the top two high school players, shortstops Kurt Farmer and Josh Sheffert, and neither should be drafted high enough to turn pro at this point.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Mike Nesseth, rhp, Nebraska (National Rank: 158)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

2. Kurt Farmer, ss, Columbus HS
3. Josh Scheffert, ss/rhp, Lincoln Southeast HS
4. Justin Long, rhp, Bellevue
5. Adam Bailey, of, Nebraska
6. Ryan Briggs, rhp, Creighton Prep, Omaha
7. Darin Ruf, 1b, Creighton
8. Chris Williams, rhp, Westside HS, Omaha
9. Robbie Knight, of, Creighton
10. Evan Porter, ss, Nebraska-Omaha

SCOUTING REPORTS

MIKE NESSETH, RHP, NEBRASKA

Nesseth and Nebraska both suffered through a disappointing spring, as he failed to make the transition from the bullpen to the rotation and the Cornhuskers had their first losing season since 1997. As a redshirt freshman reliever in 2008, Nesseth worked at 92-95 mph and touched 97 with his fastball. He also had a hard slider that overpowered hitters, and he showed both of those power pitches as a starter in the Northwoods League last summer. But he struggled in that role at Nebraska, moved back to the bullpen in mid-March and produced mixed results when he returned to the rotation five weeks later. Nesseth's fastball has varied from 88-90 mph to the low 90s, peaking at 95 when he worked in relief. His slider and control also have regressed and lacked consistency. His changeup is still a work in progress and it remains to be seen whether he can put everything together to serve as a starter in pro ball. Nesseth uses his 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame to work downhill from a low three-quarters angle. The Cornhuskers had him watch tapes of Kevin Brown and A.J. Burnett, but to no avail. With a good spring, Nesseth might have pitched his way into the back of the first round. As a draft-eligible sophomore who hasn't per formed well, he won't go as high as his raw talent might dictate. The team that drafts him probably will monitor him during the summer in the Cape Cod League, waiting for his stuff to bounce back before making a significant investment in him.

Cornhuskers Snag Shortstops

After Nesseth, the state's two best prospects are high school shortstops who have committed to the Cornhuskers, Kurt Farmer and Josh Scheffert. A 6-foot-2, 200-pound righthanded hitter, Farmer has a better swing and more polish than Scheffert, so he may make a more immediate impact. Farmer has a good arm and quick hands, though his lack of speed and range mean he'll have to move to second base, third base or the outfield.

Scheffert comes from the same Lincoln Southeast program that produced Alex Gordon, who became the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 draft after three years at Nebraska. Like Gordon, Scheffert likely will play third base for the Cornhuskers. He's a 6-foot-2, 210-pound righty hitter with more power potential than Farmer. Scheffert has fringe speed but plus arm strength and could pitch for Nebraska as well.

Righthander Justin Long was the best player on a Bellevue team that came one win short of the NAIA World Series. A 6-foot-2, 220 pounder, he likes to vary his arm angle to keep hitters off balance. He'll maintain a 90-mph fastball throughout a game and back it up with a cutter/slider in the low 80s. A tough competitor, he also led the Bruins with 11 homers.

Adam Bailey was a pitcher on Arizona State's 2007 College World Series team before transferring to South Mountain (Ariz.) CC and then Nebraska. The 6-foot, 189-pounder is now a starting outfielder who led the Cornhuskers with 12 homers. He has good bat speed and would offer even more lefthanded power if he turned on more pitches. Despite his arm strength, he'll fit best in left field as a pro.