State Report: Minnesota

Rush on Golden Gophers makes it a good year






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 state of Minnesota hasn't had a first-round pick since Glen Perkins in 2004, but Mike Kvasnicka has a chance to end that drought this spring. Kvasnicka helped Minnesota win the Big 10 Conference regular-season and tournament titles, and he and his teammates occupy six of the top seven spots on the state prospect list.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Mike Kvasnicka, c/of, Minnesota (National Rank: 63)
2. Seth Rosin, rhp, Minnesota (National Rank: 181)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

3. Bret Mitchell, rhp, Minnesota State-Mankato
4. Scott Matyas, rhp, Minnesota
5. Kyle Knudson, c, Minnesota
6. Nick O'Shea, 1b, Minnesota
7. Cullen Sexton, rhp, Minnesota
8. Chris Anderson, rhp, Centennial HS, Blaine
9. Kyle Crocker, ss, Brainerd HS
10. Matt Schuld, rhp, St. Thomas

SCOUTING REPORTS

Mike Kvasnicka, c/of

Minnesota


After catching sparingly in his first two seasons at Minnesota, Kvasnicka has seen semi-regular action behind the plate this spring while senior Kyle Knudson has recovered from offseason labrum surgery on both hips. Kvasnicka already was an attractive draft prospect as a 6-foot-2, 210-pound switch-hitter with a balanced stroke, good power potential and strike-zone discipline. Now his stock has jumped with the possibility that he could be a catcher rather than a right fielder. He has solid arm strength and accuracy, and he has the athleticism, hands and work ethic to become an average receiver. While he might have been a fourth-round pick as an outfielder, he now figures to go in the first two rounds as a catcher. If he winds up moving back to the outfield, he still has enough bat to reach the big leagues. Kvasnicka's father Jay was a Twins eighth-round pick in 1988—Minnesota drafted Mike in the 31st round out of high school—and reached Triple-A.

Seth Rosin, rhp

Minnesota


Few pitchers who are Rosin's size (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) can match his body control. He repeats his delivery and throws strikes so easily that he posted one of the top K-BB ratios (88-12 through 95 innings) in NCAA Division I this spring. Rosin topped out at 96 mph in the Cape Cod League last summer and has pitched at 91-92 mph with a peak of 94 this spring. His fastball is pretty straight, which makes it easier to throw for strikes but also easier to hit. His curveball and changeup have improved but still are fringy, and he's going to need more fastball life and better secondary pitches to miss bats in pro ball. He may fit better in the bullpen, where he would project as a possible set-up man.

Mavericks Ace Racks Up Strikeouts

In his first year at Minnesota State-Mankato after two seasons at Iowa Central CC, Bret Mitchell helped pitch the Mavericks to the NCAA Division II College World Series. Using an 88-92 mph fastball and a curveball with swing-and-miss potential, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound righthander set a school record with 108 strikeouts in 94 innings.

Righthander Scott Matyas set a Minnesota record with 15 saves as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2009, then turned down the Yankees as a 29th-round pick to return to the Gophers. He showed more velocity this spring, working in the low 90s and commanding his fastball well after recovering from an early-season forearm strain. An athletic 6-foot-4, 215-pounder, he uses a loopy curveball as his second pitch. He had Tommy John surgery in 2005.

Chris Anderson is the state's top high school prospect, but he's not ready for pro ball and unlikely to get picked high enough to opt against attending Jacksonville. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound righthander has the arm strength to touch 90-91 mph in short stints. He needs to maintain his velocity better and improve the spin on his curveball.

Minnesota assistant head coach Rob Fornasiere compares Eric Decker to another former Big 10 Conference star outfielder/wide receiver, Kirk Gibson. Unlike Gibson, Decker chose to pursue a professional football career, skipping his senior baseball season with the Gophers before the Denver Broncos took him in the third round of the NFL draft. On the diamond, the 6-foot-3, 217-pounder offers plus speed and promising power potential. The Brewers (39th round in 2008) and Twins (27th round in 2009) selected him in the last two drafts, and a team likely will take a flier on him this year. But playing two sports left him raw on the diamond already, and even if he one day returns to baseball, he will have a tough time recovering from all the at-bats he lost.