State Report: Oklahoma
|THIS YEAR'S CROP
||One for the books
||Solid, not spectacular
||Not up to par
||Nothing to see here
Per capita, Oklahoma may have the most pitching prospects in the nation this year. Lefthanders Andrew Oliver and Chad James could be first-round picks, and three more southpaws—Ashur Tolliver, Austin Kirk and Tyler Lyons—could go by the end of the fourth round. There are plenty of righthanders as well, with electric but erratic Garrett Richards making a late push toward the first round. Position players aren't as abundant, though Neil Medchill and Jamie Johnson stand out in a year where quality college outfielders are in short supply.
|NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS
1. Andrew Oliver, lhp, Oklahoma State (National Rank: 21)
2. Chad James, lhp, Yukon HS (National Rank: 24)
3. Andrew Doyle, rhp, Oklahoma (National Rank: 87)
4. Ashur Tolliver, lhp, Oklahoma City (National Rank: 102)
5. Jerry Sullivan, rhp ,Oral Roberts (National Rank: 126)
6. Garrett Richards, rhp, Oklahoma (National Rank: 137)
7. Tyler Blandford, rhp, Oklahoma State (National Rank: 138)
8. Austin Kirk, lhp, Owasso HS (National Rank: 151)
9. Tyler Lyons, lhp, Oklahoma State (National Rank: 153)
10. Neil Medchill, of, Oklahoma State (National Rank: 160)
11. Jamie Johnson, of, Oklahoma (National Rank: 169)
12. Tobin Mateychick, rhp, Enid HS
13. Jon Reed, rhp, Memorial HS, Tulsa
14. Matt Reynolds, ss, Bishop Kelly HS, Tulsa
15. Andrew Heaney, lhp, Putnam City HS, Warr Acres
16. Thomas Keeling, lhp, Oklahoma State
17. J.T. Wise, c, Oklahoma
18. Josh Cephas, rhp, Southern Nazarene
19. Aaron Baker, 1b/c, Oklahoma
20. Mark Serrano, rhp, Oral Roberts
21. Andre Lamontagne, rhp, Oral Roberts
22. Justin Harper, rhp, Oklahoma City
23. Jeremy Penn, rhp, Western Oklahoma JC
24. Stephen Hagen, 3b, Eastern Oklahoma JC
25. Antwonie Hubbard, rhp, Oklahoma
26. Bryant Hernandez, ss, Oklahoma
27. Kale Gaden, c, Stillwater HS
28. Micheal Dabbs, of, Oklahoma State
29. Lane Adams, of, Red Oak HS
30. Tyrone Hambly, 3b, Oklahoma State
31. Seth Furmanek, c, Oral Roberts
32. Brent Weaver, 1b, Oklahoma City
33. Jamaine Cotton, rhp, Western Oklahoma JC
34. Dallas Beeler, rhp, Seminole State JC
35. Daniel Meeley, of, Connors State JC
ANDREW OLIVER, LHP, OKLAHOMA STATE
Oliver starred with Oklahoma State and Team USA in 2008, but he didn't look like the same pitcher at the start of this season. He had trouble locating his fastball, lost a curveball that had been one of college baseball's best and was flying open in his delivery, allowing hitters to get a better look at his pitches. Oliver got back on a roll at the end of the season, pitching inside more and routinely dominating teams with his fastball. It sits at 92-94 mph and touches 95, and he has a slow delivery that lulls hitters to sleep before his heater explodes on them. He relies heavily on his fastball because he never regained his curve. He now employs a cutter/slider as his No. 2 pitch, and he also flashes an average changeup. His strong 6-foot-3, 212-pound frame bodes well for durability. If Oliver can't develop a reliable breaking ball, his fastball velocity and command should make him at worst an effective big league reliever. The NCAA suspended him last May for having an adviser/attorney, Tim Barratta, present during negotiations with the Twins in 2006, when they drafted him in the 17th round out of an Ohio high school. Barratta turned him into the NCAA after the pitcher switched to Scott Boras, but Oliver successfully sued the NCAA and was reinstated. Oliver shouldn't be a tough sign if he's drafted in the first round as expected.
CHAD JAMES, LHP, YUKON HS
James spent the offseason on a stringent conditioning program, and his hard work will pay off when he gets selected in the first round in June. After pitching in the high 80s and showing a mediocre curveball last year, he has gotten noticeably stronger. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder now routinely sits at 90-92 mph and touches 95 with his fastball. While his curveball needs more consistency, it's close to a plus pitch at times. He continues to have success with a changeup that ranks as one of the best among this draft's high schoolers. James has some minor delivery issues, but he's so athletic that he should be able to make those tweaks with ease. His brother Justin was a fifth-round pick out of Missouri by the Blue Jays in 2003. Chad has committed to Oklahoma State, but his stock continues to rise, making it unlikely he'll make it to college.
ANDREW DOYLE, RHP, OKLAHOMA
Doyle has solid stuff and a craftsman's approach to pitching. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder has the arm strength to dial a four-seam fastball up to 93-94 mph when needed, but he prefers to throw 89-91 mph two-seamers on the corners, allowing their sink to create groundouts. His slider isn't a swing-and-miss pitch but it is an out pitch, generating off-balance swings and more groundouts. His changeup gives him a third pitch that induces weak contact. Doyle has an easy delivery and is always around the plate. He doesn't have the sexiest arsenal, especially compared to flamethrowing but erratic teammate Garrett Richards, but Doyle does have 17 wins in two seasons in Oklahoma's rotation. He projects as a possible third-round pick and potential No. 3 starter in the big leagues.
ASHUR TOLLIVER, LHP, OKLAHOMA CITY
NAIA power Oklahoma City usually has an interesting NCAA Division I transfer, and this year's prospect is Tolliver. He went just 2-5, 7.94 at Arkansas-Little Rock in 2008, but started to blossom in the Cape Cod League during the summer. He drew a lot of attention when his fastball sat in the low 90s and popped some 96s early in the spring, though he was working more at 88-92 mph as the draft approached. Scouts wonder about his durability because he's generously listed at 6 feet and 170 pounds. He has a very quick arm, though there's also effort in his delivery, and he ultimately may wind up in the bullpen. Tolliver's second-best pitch currently is his changeup. He showed some feel for a curveball in the fall but now employs a slurvy slider in the low 80s. He has a chance to become the highest-drafted player in Stars history, surpassing Grant Hansen, who went 89th overall to the White Sox in 2003. But Tolliver didn't help his chances by giving up eight runs in three innings against Louisiana State-Shreveport in the first round of the NAIA playoffs.
JERRY SULLIVAN, RHP, ORAL ROBERTS
Sullivan has won all-conference honors and led Oral Roberts to the Summit League regular-season and tournament championships in each of his three college seasons, but coaches and scouts think he may just be scratching the surface of his potential. A top high school prospect for the 2006 draft before Tommy John surgery in November 2005 caused him to miss his senior season, Sullivan offers a nice combination of present stuff and future projection. His fastball sits in low 90s and touches 94 mph, and he does a good job of using his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame to throw it downhill. His heater also features armside run, and he usually commands it well. He's still working on the consistency of his secondary pitches. When he's at his best, his slider is a slightly above-average pitch and his changeup is a plus offering. A strong, well-conditioned athlete, he repeats his delivery well and throws strikes. Sullivan, who has pitched well in two summers in the Cape Cod League, slumped slightly as a sophomore before bouncing back this spring. A potential No. 3 starter in the majors, he figures to get drafted between the third and fifth rounds.
GARRETT RICHARDS, RHP, OKLAHOMA
The state of Oklahoma is loaded with pitching prospects this year, and no one has stuff as unhittable or a performance as mystifying as Richards. He routinely sits at 93-95 mph with life on his fastball and touched 98 in a relief outing against Wichita State. He has a mid-80s slider with bite that peaked at 89 mph against the Shockers. And if that's not enough, he has a power curveball and flashes an effective changeup. He has a quick arm, a strong 6-foot-2, 217-pound build and throws on a downhill plane with little effort. Yet Richards never has posted an ERA lower than 6.00 in three college seasons, and opponents had batted .268 with 11 homers against him entering NCAA regional play. "It's unbelievable that he gets hit," one scout said. Outside of a stint in the Alaska League last summer, Richards never has harnessed his wicked stuff on anything approaching a consistent basis. He has trouble throwing strikes and flies open in his delivery, allowing hitters a good look at what's coming. He has the raw ingredients to become a frontline starter, and on the rare occasions when he has command, he looks like an easy first-round pick. He looked better than ever down the stretch and in the NCAA playoffs, fueling speculation that a team could gamble on him as high as in the first round.
TYLER BLANDFORD, RHP, OKLAHOMA STATE
Blandford easily had the best stuff and worst control on a deep Oklahoma State staff that underachieved this season as the Cowboys couldn't even qualify for the Big 12 tournament. He's similar to Garrett Richards of archrival Oklahoma, with a 6-foot-2, 215-pound build, power stuff and little idea how to locate it. His 93-95 mph fastball and his hard slider are both swing-and-miss pitches when they're close enough to the strike zone. He can reach 97 with his fastball, though it's fairly straight. The bite on is slider is inconsistent, and he's working on a changeup but must command his heater better to set it up. Blandford's control has gotten worse in each of his three seasons at Oklahoma State. His best outing of the year was a two-hitter against Oklahoma and Richards in which Blandford struck out a career-high 12 batters—and required 166 pitches to get 25 outs. On stuff alone, he wouldn't last past the second round. He'll probably last at least two rounds longer, and he profiles better as a reliever than as a starter in pro ball.
AUSTIN KIRK, LHP, OWASSO HS
Kirk led Owasso to the Oklahoma 6-A championship, making the Rams the Sooner State's first large school ever to win three straight league titles. He won three games in the final week of the state tournament, concluding with a four-hitter over Edmond's Santa Fe High in the finals for Owasso's ei ghth championship in the last 11 years. Kirk doesn't have a lot of projection remaining in his strong 6-foot-1, 200-pound frame, but he already has quality stuff for a lefthander. He surprised scouts by touching 92 mph in a February scrimmage against Tulsa's Memorial High and ace Jon Reed. Kirk has moved past Reed as the state's No. 2 high school prospect behind projected first-rounder Chad James (Yukon High) by pitching at 88-91 mph all spring after previously topping out in the high 80s. His fastball is explosive and gets on hitters quickly, making it appear even faster. He also consistently stays on top of his improved curveball with his high three-quarters delivery and has an advanced changeup for a high schooler. Kirk could go in the fourth or fifth round if teams believe he'll sign. If he doesn't, he'll head to Oklahoma and get the chance to contribute as a two-way player. He's a first baseman with some lefthanded power.
TYLER LYONS, LHP, OKLAHOMA STATE
Lyons and Baylor's Kendal Volz led Team USA with matching 0.00 ERAs last summer, when the squad 24-0 and won the gold medal at the FISU World Championships in the Czech Republic. Both have seen their stuff dip and their draft stock significantly this spring. Lyons sat at 87-90 mph with his fastball as a sophomore and picked up a couple of mph as a Team USA reliever, but he has worked mostly at 86-87 mph in 2009. He's not hurt, though one scout noted that he has lost some of the extension in his delivery. His changeup has regressed, too, though it's still a solid-average pitch. Lyons has improved his curveball, which is now on par with his changeup. The 6-foot-2, 207-pounder still throw strikes, keeps the ball down in the zone and competes with a warrior mentality, so he still has put up the best numbers (7-6, 4.07) in Oklahoma State's rotation. As a savvy lefthander with solid stuff, Lyons had a chance to go in the second round. He increased his chances of going that high by throwing at 89-92 mph and looking more like his old self in the NCAA regionals.
NEIL MEDCHILL, OF, OKLAHOMA STATE
The Mets drafted Medchill in the 33rd round as a redshirt sophomore a year ago, failing to sign him after he led the Santa Barbara Foresters to the NBC World Series championship in August. He could go as many as 30 rounds higher this June to a team looking for a college power hitter. Some scouts grade his raw lefthanded power as a 7 on the 2-8 scale, and it's reminiscent of that of former Cowboy Corey Brown, an Athletics sandwich pick in 2007 who hit 30 homers in his first full pro season last year. Medchill has reached double figures in home runs in each of his two seasons at Oklahoma State after beginning his college career at Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) CC, and he'll deliver more power if he turns on more pitches and adds more lift to his swing. Like Brown, he has some holes in his swing and will strike out. Medchill has added 18 pounds in the last year and now carries 218 on his 6-foot-4 frame. The extra bulk has cost him a step and made him a slightly below-average runner, and he has an average arm. He probably fits best as a left fielder in pro ball.
JAMIE JOHNSON, OF, OKLAHOMA
Johnson was drafted in the 50th round out of a Louisiana high school in 2006, but went unselected at Texarkana (Texas) JC in 2007 and as a draft-eligible sophomore at Oklahoma last June. That won't happen again because he has developed into one of the better all-around college players in the Midwest. Though he stands just 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds, Johnson has the bat speed and surprising strength to hit for average and at least gap power from the left side of the plate. He needs to cut down on his strikeouts, especially if he's going to remain a leadoff man in pro ball, but he has the patience to draw walks and the plus speed to steal bases. His quickness also serves him well on defense, where he has good range in center field and a strong arm for the position.
Mateychick Bears Watching For 2012
Righthander Tobin Mateychick is extremely projectable and could blossom into an early-round 2012 draft pick after three years at Wichita State. He's a 6-foot-5, 185-pounder with a quick arm that delivers fastballs topping out at 94 mph. "He may throw 100 mph one day," one area scout said. Mateychick also can run his slider up to 84 mph, though it features more cutting action than bite. His changeup is similarly raw. He's very athletic for his size and doubles as a center fielder with good speed. He wants second-round money to sign and is unlikely to get it.
Righthander Jon Reed ranked right with Chad James as the best high school prospect in the state until he came down with calcium deposits in his elbow in February. When healthy, Reed had a 90-91 mph fastball that reached 93, a good curveball and nice polish for a high schooler. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder is a good athlete who spent his senior season playing third base and showing some righthanded power potential. A Tennessee recruit, he may need surgery on his elbow.
Oklahoma's top high school position prospect, shortstop Matt Reynolds, was bothered by back problems this spring. The 6-foot-1, 185-pounder is an offensive threat from the right side of the plate, with a quick bat and more power potential than most middle infielders. Though he's a good athlete who earned all-city honors as a basketball guard, he may lack the quickness to stay at shortstop at higher levels of play. He has the arm strength and the bat to shift to third base. He'll attend Arkansas if he doesn't turn pro.
Scouts rave about lefthander Andrew Heaney's arm action. Though he's just 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, he has a clean, quick arm and reaches 91 mph with his fastball with little effort. He also has good feel for his curveball and changeup, and he beat projected first-rounder Chad James in a head-to-head matchup. Heaney is considered all but unsignable, so he'll probably wind up at Oklahoma State.
Lefthander Thomas Keeling had the best strikeout rate (12.9 per nine innings) on a talented Oklahoma State pitching staff. Hitters have a tough time making contact against his 88-92 mph fastball because of the riding life the 6-foot-3, 184-pounder achieves by throwing across his body. His mechanics make it difficult to maintain a consistent breaking ball or control. He redshirted in 2007 because the growth plate in his shoulder blade was irritating a muscle. On talent, Keeling projects as a sixth- to eighth-rounder, though his extra leverage as a sophomore-eligible means he could drop significantly lower. He'll pitch for the Cape Cod League's Chatham Anglers this summer, giving the team that drafts him more time to evaluate him.
J.T. Wise switched schools (Louisiana State to Okahoma) and positions (third base to catcher) as a junior in 2008 and went undrafted. That won't happen again after he won Big 12 Conference player of the year honors this spring, when he batted .359 with 17 homers and threw out 52 percent of basestealers. A 6-foot-1, 207-pounder who bats righthanded, Wise has enticing power and arm strength. He'll need to make better contact and quiet down as a receiver in pro ball. A 45th-round pick by the Athletics in 2007, he's the great-nephew of 1960 World Series MVP Bobby Richardson.
Righthander Josh Cephas is one of the more intriguing senior signs in the draft. Though he drew little attention and went undrafted in two years at Contra Costa (Calif.) JC and his first at Southern Nazarene, his fastball touched 95 mph this spring. The 6-foot, 195-pounder starts with a methodical delivery before he cranks it up and the ball jumps out of his hand. He also has a hard slider. Cephas is still raw and projects best as a reliever after striking out 70 in 47 innings in that role this spring.
First baseman Aaron Baker stands out for his power and patience at the plate. The 6-foot-3, 232-pound lefthanded hitter smoked 15 homers and drew 40 walks in 63 games this season. He also starts his hands low and has some holes in his swing, compromising his ability to make contact (50 strikeouts) and hit for average (.284). A below-average athlete and runner, Baker could offer some surprising defensive value. He caught in high school and played there at times this spring. He has an average arm and threw out five of 11 basestealers. He's the grandson of Jerry Mays, who played in two Super Bowls and was an all-American Football League performer as an offensive and defensive lineman.
Righthander Mark Serrano spent his first two college seasons at Cypress (Calif.) JC and his third as a swingman at Oral Roberts, going undrafted each time. He broke out as a senior in 2009, winning Summit League player and pitcher of the year honors. Serrano, who didn't move into the Golden Eagles' rotation until late March, ranked second in NCAA Division I in strikeouts per nine innings (13.8) and fifth in strikeouts (132). The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder sets up hitters with an 88-92 mph fastball and fans them with a nasty slider. His changeup, which he throws with a palmball grip, is also an effective pitch.
Shortstop Bryant Hernandez started just 39 games in his first two college seasons but broke out and batted .351 with 12 homers and 10 steals this spring. Though he's undersized at 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, he generates surprising pop from the right side of the plate. He has good speed and the ability to make accurate throws from different angles. Hernandez sometimes tries to do too much, leading to strikeouts and errors.
First baseman Brent Weaver was the NAIA player of the year after hitting .419 with 37 homers, the second-most in NAIA history. It was a remarkable end to a six-year college career. The Brewers drafted as a pitcher in the 38th round in 2003 out of Midwest City (Okla.) HS, where he was a teammate of Matt Kemp. He pitched at Oklahoma State in 2004, but tore his labrum and underwent two shoulder surgeries. After redshirting in 2005, he blew out his elbow that fall and needed Tommy John surgery. Weaver missed all of 2006 and spent 2007 at Rose State (Okla.) JC before transferring to Oklahoma City, where the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder hit 61 homers in two years. He's 24 and ancient for a college player, but his righthanded power should buy him the opportunity to play pro ball.