State Report: Colorado

Centennial State could have two players in first five rounds






See also: Baseball America's Complete 2010 Draft Map


THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
The last time Colorado had two high school players drafted in the top 10 rounds was 2005, when righthander Kyle Winters (Marlins) and outfielder Reid Engel (Red Sox) both went in the fifth round. This year's class is actually a little better. Colorado's top prospect, Kevin Gausman, came into the year as one of the top 20 high school players in the class. Although he slid a little during an inconsistent spring, he could still go anywhere from the first to the fourth round—if he doesn't slide because of signability.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Kevin Gausman, rhp, Grandview HS, Centenninal  (National Rank: 50)
2. Kevin Walter, rhp, Legacy HS, Broomfield (National Rank: 134)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

3. Marco Gonzales, lhp, Rocky Mountain HS, Fort Collins
4. Shane Opitz, ss, Heritage HS, Centennial
5. Pierce Trumper, rhp/ss, Rocky Mountain HS, Fort Collins
6. John Pustay, of, Pine Creek HS, Colorado Springs
7. Marshall Schuler, rhp, Colorado School of Mines
8. Patrick Farrell, c, Regis
9. Kyle Hardman, c, Northern Colorado
10. Nathan Carter, of, Air Force

SCOUTING REPORTS

Kevin Gausman, rhp
Grandview HS, Centenninal

Gausman has a tall, thin build with long arms and legs. While scouts believe he'll add strength, he's one of the older players in this year's high school class and will always be on the slender side. He pitched as much as anyone last summer, throwing in just about every high-profile showcase event possible, including Perfect Game National, Aflac, Under Armour, Tournament of Stars, Area Codes, Team USA and Jupiter. Combine that with the fact that he played basketball all winter and bad weather in Colorado all spring, and it shouldn't come as a shock that his velocity was down a tick this season, sitting at 89-92 mph. Gausman has pitched in the low to mid-90s in the past. His fastball has some life and run, but he doesn't command it particularly well and it's flat in the zone. Last year in the state playoffs, he was up to 96 mph but gave up 11 runs in two innings. His secondary pitches—a 76 mph curveball, a Vulcan changeup and a cutter-like slider—are all below-average currently and project to be average at best. Because he has been inconsistent this spring, Gausman may slide to the supplemental or second round, but it will likely still take first-round money to sign him. If he heads to Louisiana State, he'd be draft-eligible again as a sophomore in 2012.

Kevin Walter, rhp
Legacy HS, Broomfield

While Kevin Gausman came into the year as the more highly touted prospect from Colorado, some scouts believe Walter will end up being the better of the two. He's a giant at 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds. Because of his size he sometimes has timing problems in his delivery, but he's a good athlete with clean mechanics for the most part. He hasn't shown the same velocity as Gausman, pitching at 88-90 mph with some sink and touching 92, but scouts believe it's in there. Walter has shown the ability to spin two different breaking balls, in a power curveball and a hard slider. They're distinctly different pitches and both show the potential to be above-average. He doesn't throw many changeups at this point, but that's not uncommon. Walter is committed to Boston College but may not get there, as he's getting fourth- to sixth-round buzz.

Interesting Prep Prospects

Rocky Mountain High in Fort Collins has won 5-A state championships in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and was in the state's final four again this year, with the winner to be determined over Memorial Day weekend. While the Lobos have had several good players over the years—most notably outfielder Jake Stewart, who was selected by the Phillies last year in the 14th round and is now a freshman at Stanford—the keys to their most recent success have been lefthander Marco Gonzales and shortstop Pierce Trumper.

Gonzales's father Frank was a lefthander who spent eight years in the minor leagues, mostly with the Tigers. So it's no surprise that Marco shows a lot of polish and poise on the mound. He has pitched in the team's previous three championship games and threw a three-hitter to beat Wheat Ridge High as a freshman. Gonzales throws mostly in the 85-87 mph range but touched 89 earlier in the year, and scouts believe there's more in the tank. His fastball can get too straight, but he makes up for it with great command. His best pitch is his changeup, which should be an above-average offering. He is able to throw it with the same arm speed and release point as his fastball, which means he can throw it on back-to-back pitches and generate bad swings both times. He's 6 feet and about 180 pounds with a thick lower half. He'll need to improve his breaking ball. If Gonzales doesn't sign, he'll be a two-way player at Gonzaga. He has played first base and the outfield in high school, though is pro future is clearly on the mound.

Trumper is also a two-way player who is more likely to end up on campus at Arkansas. At shortstop, he has good actions and a quick release, but lacks the lateral quickness to stay up the middle long-term. He's a below-average runner and will have to move to third base. He has the arm strength to play there, but it's not certain he'll hit for the power to profile for the position. At 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, he has a loose, athletic frame. On the mound, he sits in the 89-91 mph range, occasionally touching higher, with a 79-81 mph slider. Most pro scouts prefer him as a hitter.

Shane Opitz is a good athlete who was an all-state wide receiver and a guard on Heritage High's basketball team. But his best sport is baseball, where the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder plays shortstop and swings a lefthanded bat. He's a solid defender, but profiles better as an offensive second baseman. He's a hard worker and the type of player who could blossom when he focuses on baseball year-round. Opitz's older brother Jake was a 12th-round pick by the Cubs out of Nebraska in 2008. Shane is also committed to Nebraska, but may not end up there, as he could be taken in the eighth to 12th round.

John Pustay is undersized at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds. The San Diego State recruit has a quick, balanced swing from the left side and shows a little snap in his bat, though he'll never be a big power guy. As a runner, he's average to a tick above and will likely have to move to a corner position, so he doesn't profile well for pro scouts.

Colorado is never a hot spot for college players, with no Division I programs, but there are a few interesting players this year. Marshall Schuler is a 6-foot, 170-pound senior righthander with a career 9.29 ERA. He was 1-4, 10.01 this year over 48 innings with 49 strikeouts and 27 walks. But, he's been up to 94 mph with some sink, so someone will give him a chance.

Teams always find jobs for catchers who can hit at least a little bit, and Colorado has two such players this year. The first is senior Patrick Farrell, a sturdy 6-foot-3, 210 pounder who transferred to Regis from Nevada-Las Vegas. He has a knack for getting the bat on the ball, as he struck out 14 times over 145 at-bats this season, and also has power potential. Farrell is a decent receiver and has average arm strength, but needs to improve his footwork. He has a strong, durable frame and works hard. He had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in early May—an operation that was performed by Pierce Trumper's father—but he's back to 100 percent now.

The second catcher is Kyle Hardman, whose brother Clark was a ninth-round pick of the Cubs in 2007. Hardman started his career at Cal State Fullerton, where he redshirted during his freshman year, before transferring to Northern Colorado. He's a disciplined hitter who drives the ball hard to all parts of the park. He has played mostly first base for the Bears served as the team's backup catcher, but has caught extensively in the past and played there more late this season. His receiving and blocking need work, but he has a solid-average arm. Hardman has been working hard to improve behind the plate and has received good instruction from Northern Colorado coach Patrick Perry, who was a catcher himself and a seventh-round pick by the Red Sox in 2004.