State Report: Texas
Once again, no trouble finding talent in Lone Star State
See also: Baseball America's Complete 2010 Draft Map
|THIS YEAR'S CROP
||One for the books
||Solid, not spectacular
||Not up to par
||Nothing to see here
Texas offers its usual deep crop of prospects. Jameson Taillon of The Woodlands is the Lone Star State's best high school arm since Josh Beckett was the second overall pick in 1999, and Taillon may be better. Texas-Arlington outfielder Michael Choice has a chance to be the first four-year college player selected in the draft, though the state's position-player crop drops off sharply behind him. Rice shortstop Rick Hague and Texas catcher Cameron Rupp didn't perform as scouts hoped this spring, and no other bats stepped up to pick up the slack.
The state has no shortage of arms, however. Texas' Brandon Workman, Texas Tech's Chad Bettis, Texas A&M's Barret Loux and Henderson High's Tyrell Jenkins will all get first-round consideration. McKinney High's Zach Lee would as well if he weren't dead set on playing quarterback at Louisiana State. The independent leagues have their usual draft refugee, this time in the form of Grand Prairie (American Association) lefthander James Paxton, a Blue Jays sandwich pick a year ago. The junior colleges are productive as usual, with righthanders Zach Cates (Northeast Texas) and Burch Smith (Howard) leading the way.
Next year will be even stronger in Texas, with Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, Texas righthander Taylor Jungmann, Texas Christian lefthander Matt Purke and Texas A&M righty John Stilson all projected as top 10 overall picks.
|NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS
1. Jameson Taillon, rhp, The Woodlands HS (National Rank: 2)
2. Michael Choice, of, Texas-Arlington (National Rank: 11)
3. Brandon Workman, rhp, Texas (National Rank: 19)
4. Zach Lee, rhp, McKinney HS (National Rank: 29)
5. Chad Bettis, rhp, Texas Tech (National Rank: 33)
6. Barret Loux, rhp, Texas A&M (National Rank: 35)
7. James Paxton, lhp, Grand Prairie/American Association (National Rank: 38)
8. Tyrell Jenkins, rhp, Henderson HS (National Rank: 44)
9. Chance Ruffin, rhp, Texas (National Rank: 57)
10. Matt Lipka, ss, McKinney HS (National Rank: 76)
11. Zach Cates, rhp, Northeast Texas CC (National Rank: 79)
12. Burch Smith, rhp, Howard JC (National Rank: 80)
13. Kendrick Perkins, of, LaPorte HS (National Rank: 99)
14. John Simms, rhp, College Park HS, The Woodlands (National Rank: 118)
15. Tyler Green, rhp, Brazoswood HS, Clute (National Rank: 120)
16. Cole Green, rhp, Texas (National Rank: 121)
17. Cameron Rupp, c, Texas (National Rank: 123)
18. Rick Hague, ss, Rice (National Rank: 128)
19. Brian Ragira, of, Martin HS, Arlington HS (National Rank: 139)
20. Bobby Doran, rhp, Texas Tech (National Rank: 143)
21. Austin Kubitza, rhp, Colleyville Heritage HS (National Rank: 153)
22. Mitchell Taylor, lhp, Spring HS (National Rank: 170)
23. Michael Goodnight, rhp, Houston (National Rank: 171)
24. Jason Hursh, rhp, Trinity Christian Academy, Addison (National Rank: 173)
25. Krey Bratsen, of, Bryan HS (National Rank: 175)
26. Chris Marlowe, rhp, Navarro JC (National Rank: 176)
27. Clay Schrader, rhp, San Jacinto JC (National Rank: 180)
28. Brooks Pinckard, rhp, Baylor (National Rank: 188)
29. Miguel Pena, lhp, San Jacinto JC
30. Bryan Holaday, c, Texas Christian
31. Rett Varner, rhp, Texas-Arlington
32. Noah Syndergaard, rhp, Legacy HS, Mansfield
33. Jason Martinson, ss, Texas State
34. Blake Barnes, rhp, Howard JC
35. Blake Kelso, ss, Houston
36. Sean Nolin, lhp, San Jacinto JC
37. Zach Nuding, rhp, Weatherford JC
38. Mike Ojala, rhp, Rice
39. Brodie Greene, of/2b, Texas A&M
40. Sean O'Connor, rhp, Carroll HS, Southlake
41. Colby Suggs, rhp, Sulphur Springs HS
42. Trae Davis, rhp, Mexia HS
43. Michael Fuda, of, Rice
44. Dexter Kjerstad, of, Randall HS, Amarillo
45. Jason Mitchell, rhp, Texas-Arlington
46. Jay Johnson, lhp, Texas Tech
47. Dallas Gallant, rhp, Sam Houston State
48. Josh Easley, rhp, Weatherford JC
49. Steven Maxwell, rhp, Texas Christian
50. Corey Goudeau, rhp, Frank Phillips JC
51. Chris McKenzie, rhp, San Jacinto JC
52. Craig Fritsch, rhp, Baylor
53. Tyler Pearson, c, Monterey HS, Lubbock
54. Jacob Dahlstrand, rhp, Memorial HS, Houston
55. Jacques de Gruy, rhp, Jesuit College Prep, Dallas
56. Dustin Fitzgerald, rhp, Hill JC
57. Zak Adams, lhp, Flower Mound HS
58. Mark Herrera, rhp, San Jacinto JC
59. Jarrett Higgins, of, San Jacinto JC
60. Christian Summers, ss, Central HS, San Angelo
61. Jason Krizan, of, Dallas Baptist
62. Trevor Teykl, rhp, Kempner HS, Sugar Land
63. Nick Rumbelow, rhp, Bullard HS
64. Ryan Enos, of, Dallas Baptist
65. Matt Curry, 1b, Texas Christian
66. Kevin Keyes, of, Texas
67. Raynor Campbell, 2b, Baylor
68. Ryan Hornback, c, San Jacinto JC
69. Diego Seastrunk, c, Rice
70. Ty Stuckey, lhp, Houston
71. Joey Leftridge, of, Howard JC
72. Travis Brewster, of, Horn HS, Mesquite
73. Tony Rizzotti, rhp, Martin HS, Arlington
74. Nick Lee, lhp, Weatherford JC
75. James Wooster, lhp, Alvin CC
76. Fabian Roman, of, Odessa JC
77. Mark Hudson, of, Sam Houston State
78. Vance Woodruff, rhp, Grayson County CC
79. Michael Nava, rhp, Northeast Texas CC
80. Nicholas Frey, rhp, The Woodlands HS
81. Stefan Crichton, rhp, Cinco Ranch HS, Katy
82. Trey Masek, rhp, Giddings HS
83. Nathan Thornhill, rhp, Cedar Park HS
84. Andrew Mitchell, rhp, Stratford HS, Houston
85. Kirby Bellow, lhp, Nederland HS
86. Nathan Burns, of, Howard JC
87. Mark Blackmar, rhp, Carroll HS, Corpus Christi
88. Travis Meiners, 3b, Dallas Baptist
89. Russell Moldenhauer, of, Texas
90. Jonathan Mejia, of, Manvel HS
91. Logan Chitwood, rhp, Texas-Tyler
92. Jaime Esquivel, rhp, South Houston HS
93. Brent Powers, lhp, Sam Houston State
94. Brett Bruening, rhp, Texas Tech
95. Greg Holle, rhp, Texas Christian
96. Ryan Turner, rhp, McLennan CC
97. Spencer Davis, 3b, The Woodlands HS
99. Brandon Pierce, rhp, Gunter HS
99. Jared Lakind, lhp/1b, Cypress Woods HS, Cypress
100. Chris Casazza, 3b, Tarleton State
101. Austin Knight, ss, Dallas Baptist
102. Chad Rogers, rhp, Galveston CC
103. Steven Sultzbaugh, of, Rice
104. Brett Johnson, 3b, Plano HS
105. Tyler Nurdin, lhp, Paschal HS, Fort Worth
106. Chad Mozingo, of, Rice
107. Shane Minks, rhp, Texas A&M
108. Nick Fleece, rhp, Texas A&M
109. Shawn Tolleson, rhp, Baylor
110. Zach Good, lhp, Mesquite HS
111. Luke Malloy, rhp, Alamo Heights HS, San Antonio
112. Jacob Felts, c, Orangefield HS
113. Joe Staley, c, Lubbock Christian
114. Rafael Thomas, of, Lubbock Christian
115. Garrett Carruth, rhp, Texas State
116. Randall Thorpe, of, San Jacinto JC
117. Paul Barton, rhp, Panola JC
118. Dylan Petrich, of, Angelo State
119. Barry Laird, rhp, Houston
120. Evan Gattis, c, Texas-Permian Basin
Jameson Taillon, rhp
The Woodlands (Texas) HS
There's no doubt that Taillon has more upside than any pitching prospect in the 2010 draft. The only debate is whether he's a better pitching prospect than fellow Texas fireballer Josh Beckett was at the same stage of his career. They have similar stuff, with Taillon having a bigger frame (6-foot-6, 225 pounds) and Beckett possessing a meaner streak on the mound and turning in a more consistent high school senior season. Taillon gave up 11 runs in a much-anticipated pitching duel with fellow Rice recruit John Simms in mid-March. His fastball command was out of whack, but he solved the problem and threw a 19-strikeout no-hitter a week later. He finished the year 8-1, 1.78 with 114 strikeouts in 62 innings, fanning 13 to win a first-round playoff game in his final start. Taillon owns the two best pitches in the draft: a heavy 93-97 mph fastball that has touched 99, and a hammer curveball in the mid-80s. He throws his heater with such ease that it looks like he's playing catch. He also has a hard slider and the makings of a changeup, though he rarely has needed more than two pitches to this point. He has a classic pitcher's body and strong makeup. With the Nationals zeroing in on Bryce Harper, Taillon is unlikely to become the first high school righthander selected No. 1 overall. He still could match or exceed two draft records shared by Beckett: the highest draft slot for a prep righty (No. 2), and the biggest guarantee ever given to a high school pitcher (a $7 million major league contract).
Michael Choice, of
Choice is a lock to eclipse Hunter Pence (second round, 2004) as the highest-drafted player in Texas-Arlington history, and he could be the first college position player drafted this year. He has the best power among four-year college players in this draft class. He starred for Team USA's college squad last summer, leading all players with three homers at the World Baseball Challenge, and was chasing the Southland Conference triple crown this spring. Texas-Arlington's career leader in homers (34), Choice has a strong 6-foot, 215-pound frame. He lets balls travel deep before unleashing his lightning bat speed and crushing them to all fields, though he can get pull-conscious and lengthen his righthanded swing at times. He racks up strikeouts but also draws walks, leading NCAA Division I with 76 entering regional play. That total was inflated by 21 intentional and several semi-intentional walks, but he's willing to take a base when pitchers won't challenge him. Choice has 6.6-second speed in the 60-yard dash, so some scouts believe he may be able to stay in center field. Others think he lacks the jumps and instincts for center and fits better on a corner. He may have enough arm strength for right field, and he definitely has the power profile to fit in left. One of the youngest college juniors in the draft, he won't turn 21 until November.
Brandon Workman, rhp
The Longhorns have one of the best college pitching staffs in recent memory, as evidenced by their team 2.14 ERA in mid-May—and the fact that Workman, their No. 3 starter, could be a first-round pick. The Phillies drafted him in the third round out of high school, but held firm with a $275,000 offer and wouldn't give him the $350,000 he sought. Now he could get four to five times that amount. Unable to secure a spot in the Longhorns rotation as a sophomore, Workman has been more focused and efficient this spring. His best pitch is a knockout curveball, and he pairs it with a 90-92 mph fastball that peaks at 96. He has developed a high-80s cutter as a strikeout pitch against lefthanders, and he also has some feel for a changeup. His command is better than ever, and he now realizes that he's more effective when he doesn't overthrow, which causes his pitches to flatten out. Workman earned all-star honors in the Cape Cod League the last two summers, leading the league in strikeouts after his freshman season.
Zach Lee, rhp
McKinney (Texas) HS
Lee's status as one of the best quarterback recruits in the nation and a top student will make him one of the most difficult signing decisions in this draft. The perception among area scouts is that Lee might require as much as $3 million—and even that might not be enough to steer him away from playing two sports at Louisiana State. He passed for 2,565 yards and 31 touchdowns last fall, and his arm is just as potent on the mound. He already has a 90-93 mph fastball with room for more projection in his 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame. He also throws a sharp slider and a changeup that needs work but shows promise. Unlike many two-sport stars, he has a lot of polish. Lee has a clean delivery that he repeats, enabling him to throw strikes with ease.
Chad Bettis, rhp
Bettis could join Brett Eibner as an unsigned Astros 2007 draft pick (eighth round) who blossoms into a first-rounder three years later. As with Eibner, there's debate about Bettis' future role. He's definitely a pitcher, and while many scouts see him as a rubber-armed reliever, others say he has enough stuff to start. Texas Tech has used him in both roles, deploying him as a starter as a freshman, a reliever a year ago and both ways this spring. A 6-foot-1, 211-pounder, Bettis has a quick arm, fluid delivery and quality fastball. He pitches in the low 90s as a starter and touched 98 mph coming out of the bullpen last summer with Team USA. He generates velocity with his fluid delivery and arm speed rather than effort. He still needs to do a better job of locating his fastball down in the strike zone, but he has thrown more strikes and shown more sink this year. Bettis' mid-80s slider can be a plus, but he also overthrows it at times. His changeup gives him an effective pitch against lefthanders. He sometimes relies on his secondary pitches too much, to the detriment of his fastball command.
Barret Loux, rhp
The Tigers spent heavily to sign high school pitchers Rick Porcello ($7 million contract in the first round) and Casey Crosby ($748,500 in the fifth) in 2007, and thought they also met the $800,000 asking price of Loux, their 24th-rounder. He changed his mind about signing and instead opted to attend Texas A&M, where his 2009 season was halted by bone chips in his elbow. After having the chips removed, Loux is healthy again and racking up strikeouts with a 90-92 mph fastball that touches 95. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder throws with such ease that his fastball appears even harder. If he had a standout second pitch, he'd be a first-round pick, but he may have to settle for the sandwich round because his curveball and changeup are merely effective. His curveball was his best pitch in high school but hasn't been as sharp since his elbow surgery. He'll show an average changeup, though not on a consistent basis. Some teams have medical concerns about Loux, who missed two months of his high school senior season with a tender shoulder.
James Paxton, lhp
Grand Prairie (American Association)
The Blue Jays drafted Paxton 37th overall out of the University of Kentucky a year ago, but they couldn't sign the native Canadian. Team president Paul Beeston told a Toronto newspaper that he had negotiated directly with Paxton's adviser, Scott Boras, which would be a violation of NCAA rules. The Wildcats wouldn't allow Paxton to play until he submitted to an interview with the NCAA, and when he couldn't secure a temporary injunction in the Kentucky courts, he left the team and signed with the independent Grand Prairie AirHogs of the American Association, following the paths of several prominent pitchers in recent years, including Tanner Scheppers. Last spring, he worked at 93-94 mph and touched 97 with his fastball, which features good run and sink. His curveball grades as a true plus pitch at times, and he'll also show solid command and some feel for a changeup, though he doesn't use it often. Despite his stuff and a gaudy 115-20 K-BB ratio as a junior, Paxton got hit hard to the tune of a 5.86 ERA last season. While his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame should lend itself to durability, he has a history of nagging injuries (sore elbow in high school, back issues in 2008, tendinitis in his left knee last spring) that worries some clubs. In his first three starts for Grand Prairie, he showed an 88-93 mph fastball and a decent curve without much command, so he might be hard pressed to match his draft status from a year ago. But when Paxton is at his best, only Drew Pomeranz offers a better fastball/curve combo among this draft's lefthanders.
Tyrell Jenkins, rhp
Henderson (Texas) HS
Jenkins may be the most athletic pitcher in the draft. Baylor's top quarterback recruit, he also lettered in basketball and ran a 49-second quarter-mile in a relay race this spring—without any training. The next day, he was throwing 92-93 mph fastball in the seventh inning. Jenkins has a loose, quick, whippy arm that can deliver fastballs up to 95 mph. There's a lot of projection remaining in his 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame, and lots of room for improvement with his secondary pitches. He can spin a curveball and also throws a slider and changeup. He should develop more consistency once he focuses on baseball and does a better job of repeating his delivery. He's raw but has tremendous upside, making him a perfect fit in the sandwich round for teams with multiple picks. Jenkins is considered much more signable than fellow Texas high school pitcher/quarterback Zach Lee.
Chance Ruffin, rhp
En route to a 12-year big league career, Ruffin's father Bruce was a second-round draft pick out of Texas in 1985. His son could match or exceed that draft status after moving full-time to the bullpen this spring. Ruffin's stuff has played up after the change in roles, with his fastball jumping from 89-91 mph to 90-93, topping out at 95 when he's fresh. His 78-82 mph slider is his best pitch, and he has a late-breaking curveball that he uses to get backdoor strikes against lefthanders. He'll also mix in a changeup, though it's really more of a batting-practice fastball. His regular-season numbers—0.77 ERA (the best in NCAA Division I), 13 saves, .176 opponent average, 89-18 K-BB ratio—were as dazzling as any in college baseball. He's similar to former Longhorns closer Huston Street in terms of size, arsenal and competitive makeup. The biggest drawback with Ruffin is his size (6-foot-1, 185 pounds), but nevertheless some scouts think he could make it in pro ball as a starter. More likely, he'll be fast-tracked as a reliever.
Matt Lipka, ss
McKinney (Texas) HS
McKinney quarterback/righthander Zach Lee may continue to play two sports at Louisiana State, but his top wide receiver will focus on baseball, either in pro ball or at Alabama. A two-time 4-A all-state wide receiver in Texas, Lipka caught 22 touchdown passes from Lee last fall. He's one of the fastest prospects in the draft, capable of running the 60-yard dash in 6.4 seconds. He's a quick-twitch athlete with strength in his 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame. A righthanded hitter, he has strong hands and bat speed, though he gets jammed more than he should. He employs a line-drive stroke but has a chance for at least average power. Lipka has the athleticism and arm strength to play shortstop, but his hands and actions are questionable. He'll get the opportunity to play shortstop as a pro, and he also profiles well as a center fielder. While Lee is considered one of the draft's most unsignable players, Lipka should sign if he goes in the first three rounds as expected.
Zach Cates, rhp
Northeast Texas CC
Undrafted out of an Arkansas high school in 2008 and bypassed again at Northeast Texas CC last year, Cates won't be overlooked a third time. He spent most of his freshman season as a catcher, standing out for his strong arm and working just seven innings on the mound. A strong fall as a pitcher landed him on follow lists, and he has steadily risen up draft boards this spring. His fastball ranges from 90-93 mph to 95-97, and there should be more consistent velocity in his 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame. For an inexperienced pitcher, he has a relatively advanced changeup, which grades out as a better pitch than his curveball. His curve does have its moments, and he could have an easy plus fastball with two solid secondary pitches once he develops. His command and control still need work, but neither is a red flag. He's a tough competitor. Cates hasn't committed to a four-year school for 2010 and should be signable.
Burch Smith, rhp
Howard (Texas) JC
Smith was a late bloomer in high school, not pitching much until his senior season, and he served as the No. 4 starter on Howard's 2009 team that started 57-0 and finished at 65-1 as the national juco champion. This spring, he has become the No. 1 starter on the Hawks and emerged as a possible second-round pick—with still more room for improvement. Smith throws a 90-93 mph fastball with little effort, and could add a few more mph and maintain his velocity deeper into games if he can pack some strength on his 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame. He has made the transition from thrower to pitcher, dealing more strikes and using his changeup and curveball to get outs rather than just trying to overpower hitters. Both of his secondary pitches can become at least solid-average, with his changeup grading better than his curve at this point. A 49th-round pick by the Indians a year ago, Smith will pitch at Oklahoma next season if he doesn't turn pro.
Kendrick Perkins, of
LaPorte (Texas) HS
Perkins ran for a combined 3,454 yards and 47 touchdowns as a junior and senior football player, breaking a 30-year-old school record for career rushing yards. He received football offers from Kansas, Southern Methodist and Texas Christian, but announced his intention to play baseball going forward. It's easy to dream on Perkins' potential on the diamond. He's a 6-foot-3, 215-pound quick-twitch athlete with lefthanded power potential and solid speed. Because he has been torn between two sports, he's still raw. He doesn't recognize offspeed pitches well and can get caught on his front foot. At the same time, his hands work well at the plate and he does a good job of squaring up pitches. He has enough arm strength and speed to play right field, though his defense will need work. "He's a classic boom or bust player," one area scout said. "He could be Jason Heyward, or he could be Choo Freeman." At his best, Perkins can look like a sandwich-round talent, though his lack of refinement could drop him to the third or fourth round.
John Simms, rhp
College Park HS, The Woodlands, Texas
Jameson Taillon is the top pitching prospect in the draft, but he's not the only pitching prospect in The Woodlands. While Simms can't match Taillon's overpowering arsenal, he has a better understanding of the craft of pitching and plenty in his arsenal to get hitters out with. Simms outpitched Taillon in a mid-March matchup, winning a sloppy 14-11 contest with a 13-strikeout complete game, and blanked The Woodlands 7-0 in a later rematch (though not over Taillon). He also beat Taillon 1-0 a year ago to hand him his lone loss of 2009. Simms has exceptional life on his 90-92 mph fastball, which he can throw with so much armside run or sink that one area scout said it's almost like having two separate pitches. He'll show a sharp 83-84 mph slider at times, and he commands it better than his fastball. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder has an athletic, projectable frame that bodes well for additional velocity in the future. Simms will need to clean up some of the funk in his mechanics—he employs a drop-and-drive delivery with some wrist wrap in the back—but it also offers him deception. Scouts rave about his pitchability and mound presence. It may be three years before he turns pro, however, because he's a top student who may require a seven-figure bonus to pass on attending Rice.
Tyler Green, rhp
Brazoswood HS, Clute, Texas
Though Green has one of the better bats in the Texas high school ranks this spring, his power arm is too much for scouts too ignore. He regularly operates at 90-92 mph and reaches 95 with his fastball, and he backs it up with a hard curveball. He's only 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, and while he has a quick arm, he has some effort to his delivery that will need to be addressed. He's a tenacious competitor who was slowed late in the spring when he jammed his wrist on a headfirst slide, though he recovered to allow a total of one run in his first three playoff starts while pitching Brazoswood to the state 5-A regional finals. A high school shortstop, Green will play both ways if he attends Texas Christian. He has plus bat speed that gives him good power potential from the right side of the plate. Though he has the arm to play shortstop, he projects as more of a third baseman or corner outfielder at the college level. Scouts believe he's more signable than the typical TCU recruit.
Cole Green, rhp
Green can't match the stuff of the other members of Texas' weekend rotation (projected first-round picks Taylor Jungmann and Brandon Workman), but he has been just as effective, going 10-1, 2.64 with a 66-23 K-BB ratio and .213 opponent average in 99 innings entering regional play. He doesn't have a classic pro build at 6 feet and 210 pounds, and he can't overpower hitters, but he pitches so well and competes so hard that he should go in the first five rounds. Green sits at 89-91 mph and peaks at 93 mph with his sinker, living in the bottom of the strike zone and generating plenty of groundouts. His changeup is a quality offering, and he also has a late-breaking slider. He throws strikes with all three pitches and keeps his pitch counts down, allowing him to work deep into games. Some scouts project him as no more than a middle reliever in the big leagues, but his feel for pitching and his makeup may allow him to make it as a starter.
Cameron Rupp, c
Teams covet catchers with power and arm strength, which put Rupp in position to be a possible first-round pick. But he hasn't had the numbers to put him there, batting .313/.401/.498 though conference tournament play. Scouts have admired his strength since he won the home run derby at the 2006 Aflac Classic, though they aren't sure he'll be able to tap into his power as a pro. He has an arm bar in his righthanded swing that allows pitchers to tie him up inside with good velocity, and he chases too many offspeed pitches and offerings up in the strike zone. Rupp has worked hard to improve his defense and keep his 6-foot-2, 235-pound frame under control, but scouts still worry that his size and lack of athleticism will affect his long-term ability to remain behind the plate. He has plus arm strength and has shortened what once was a long release, and while it's still not compact, he has thrown out 40 percent of basestealers this year. He has gotten better as a receiver and calls most of the pitches for college baseball's most talented pitching staff. He's similar to Ryan Garko, who was a third-round pick out of Stanford, with more power and defensive ability than Garko had.
Rick Hague, ss
Teams targeted Hague as a likely first-round pick after his summer with Team USA, when he shifted from shortstop to third base in deference to Cal State Fullerton's Christian Colon, tied for the team lead in batting (.371) and was named the top hitter at the World Baseball Challenge. But he started the spring in an extended funk, hitting just .290 and committing 22 errors in his first 38 games, bottoming out with a four-error game against Texas A&M. Hague has been on fire since, going on a 41-for-89 (.461) tear with just one error in his next 20 contests. Hague has strong hands, an easy righthanded stroke and a good ability to use the opposite field at times. He swings and misses badly at others and falls into ruts when he tries to pull every pitch he sees. His power and speed are fringe-average, though he has good instincts on the bases and is a better runner under way. He has the arm strength to play shortstop or third base, but he lacks the range for short and doesn't have the true power for third. Scouts acknowledge that Hague has decent tools and love his makeup, but he doesn't profile well at any position because he doesn't have the quickness for second base or the offensive production for an outfield corner. Though his resurgence still could land him in the third round, his future position remains in doubt.
Brian Ragira, of
Martin HS, Arlington, Texas
With his bat speed and the strength in his 6-foot-2, 185-pound build, Ragira offers some of the best righthanded power potential in this draft class, though it may be three years before that potential is tested in pro ball. Scouts have enough questions about his bat that he probably won't get the kind of bonus offer that a Stanford recruit advised by the Boras Corp. usually seeks. The son of Kenyan immigrants, Ragira can put on a show in batting practice and has room to put more weight on his wiry frame. He employs a patient, line-drive approach, yet didn't tear up the showcase circuit last summer and has had a so-so spring at the plate. With average speed and arm strength, he's capable of playing right field but could fit better in left. He won't be a first-round pick in 2010, but if he proves himself at Stanford, he easily could go that high three years from now.
Bobby Doran, rhp
Pitching in the shadow of Chad Bettis at Texas Tech, Doran has been the Red Raiders' best starting pitcher this spring. After going winless in the first half of the season, he won five of his next six starts, highlighted by a 16-strikeout effort against Missouri. His stuff has kicked up a notch, matching what he showed last summer when he ranked as the top pitching prospect in the Jayhawk League. Not only is he pitching at 90-92 mph and topping out at 94, but he's also commanding his fastball to both sides of the plate. He also has a hard 77-78 mph curveball with late break, as well as a serviceable changeup. He's athletic for a 6-foot-6, 240-pounder, and his arm works easily, enabling him to throw strikes. He spent the first two years of his college career at Seward County (Kan.) CC, where the Pirates drafted him in the 36th round last year. He'll get picked more than 30 rounds earlier this time around.
Austin Kubitza, rhp
Colleyville (Texas) Heritage HS
Kubitza is the third Texas high school ace in a potentially banner Rice recruiting class. He can't match Jameson Taillon's stuff or John Simms' pitchability, but he has plenty of both. He's projectable at 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, and he has better body control than many pitchers that tall, which allows him to throw strikes. His fastball currently sits at 88-91 mph and peaks at 93, with sink and armside run. He'll flash one of the best sliders in this high school draft crop, and once he fills out and adds velocity, he should have two plus pitches. A team willing to bet on Kubitza's upside could be tempted to draft him as early as the third round, but that might not be enough to steer him away from Rice.
Mitchell Taylor, lhp
Spring (Texas) HS
Taylor won Spring's regular-season finale to qualify his team for the Texas 5-A playoffs, where he boosted his stock more than any pitcher in the top 10 rounds. In the opening round against College Park (The Woodlands), he struck out 10 to win the first game and came back in relief two days later to work three shutout innings and outduel John Simms for the victory. He did the same thing in round two against Cy-Fair (Cypress), winning the opener as a starter and the deciding third game as a reliever. Taylor ran out of gas in the third round, losing a 4-3 decision to Klein Collins (Spring), but drove in six of Spring's 12 runs in the two-game series. He's a little lefty with a whippy arm, throwing 88-93 mph despite standing just 6-foot-1 and 160 pounds. He also has a big-breaking curveball that some scouts grade as better than his fastball. He's polished for a high schooler, throwing strikes and exhibiting good mound presence. Though he has committed to Houston, Taylor is expected to sign. A midseason suspension has caused some clubs to back away, but he could go as high as the fourth round.
Michael Goodnight, rhp
Houston's annual early-season Minute Maid Classic always draws a flock of scouts, making it a perfect springboard for college players with draft aspirations to boost their stock. Goodnight seized that opportunity, working seven shutout innings to beat Texas and potential first-rounder Brandon Workman 1-0. He didn't built off that outing, however, going 7-7, 5.36 overall. Against Texas, Goodnight maintained an 88-92 mph fastball for seven innings, touched 94 and backed it up with a good, 80-82 mph slider. He showed similar stuff throughout the spring, but his feel for pitching seemed to come and go. He fell behind in the count too often and didn't pitch down in the zone enough, leading to 85 hits and 50 walks in 79 innings, and his stuff should play better than that. He's built for durability at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds and has two potential plus pitches, yet Goodnight might wind up as a reliever because of his inconsistent command and lack of feel for a changeup. A two-time district MVP as a high school quarterback, he has good athleticism and a clean delivery. He's eligible for the draft as a 21-year-old sophomore, and it's unclear whether he'd sign for fifth-round money, which is what he's expected to command.
Jason Hursh, rhp
Trinity Christian Academy, Addison, Texas
Hursh is the best pitcher to come out of Trinity Christian Academy since David Purcey, who went on to attend Oklahoma, become a Blue Jays first-round pick and reach the majors. Hursh is a good student who has committed to Oklahoma State, but he should be signable if he's picked in the first five rounds. His velocity has picked up this spring, as he's now regularly pitching at 90-93 mph and flashing some 94s. He'll shows signs of a promising curveball and slider, though neither breaking ball is consistent. He's doing a much better job of throwing strikes, though his command still needs a lot of work. Though he's just 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, Hursh generates his velocity with arm speed rather than effort. He does throw across his body somewhat, which isn't optimal but does add life to his pitches.
Krey Bratsen, of
Bryan (Texas) HS
Bratsen is the fastest true prospect in the 2010 draft, capable of running the 60-yard dash in 6.35 seconds. He seems destined to take that speed to Texas A&M. His father James led the Aggies in RBIs for three years running in the 1970s, and the campus is just five minutes from Bratsen's high school. He also has a seven-figure price tag, and the rest of his game isn't refined enough to warrant that kind of payday. Bratsen's second-best tool is his strong arm. He has plenty of bat speed, but he has a long righthanded swing and doesn't make consistent contact. At 6 feet and 160 pounds, he lacks the strength to drive balls. His speed is an asset in center field, but his instincts are just fair and he doesn't take good routes on flyballs. Bratsen has considerable potential as a hitter and defender, but he's a few years away from realizing it yet.
Chris Marlowe, rhp
Navarro (Texas) JC
Marlowe may be just 6 feet and 175 pounds, but he has big-time arm speed. He routinely works at 91-93 mph, tops out at 94 and has a feel for spinning a hard curveball. Those two pitches have allowed him to overwhelm hitters this spring, as he led all juco pitchers by averaging 17.3 strikeouts per nine innings through mid-May. He originally arrived at Navarro as a shortstop, so he's still a work in progress on the mound. Though his delivery is relatively smooth, he battles his command at times. An Oklahoma State recruit, Marlowe will pitch in the Prospect League this summer if a team wants to get more looks at him.
Clay Schrader, rhp
San Jacinto (Texas) JC
Schrader went to Texas-San Antonio as a two-way player and had middling success as a starting pitcher in 2009, going 2-1, 3.97 with 43 strikeouts in 45 innings. After transferring to San Jacinto for 2010, he has found his true calling as a reliever. He helped the Gators reach the Junior College World Series, saving 11 games and ranking third nationally with 15.9 strikeouts per nine innings through regional play. Schrader has two legitimate plus pitches, a 91-95 mph fastball and a mid-80s slider. His low-80s curveball can be devastating at times as well. Scouts worry about his size (6 feet, 190 pounds), arm action and maximum-effort delivery, but his power stuff still should land him in the top six or seven rounds. If he doesn't turn pro, he'll attend Oklahoma.
Brooks Pinckard, rhp
Pinckard is one of the faster runners available in the 2010 draft, with plus-plus speed that plays well in center field. However, he probably won't get a chance to use his wheels in pro ball. Scouts view him as a slap hitter and are much more intrigued by his strong right arm, which produces fastballs clocked up to 95 mph and loaded with sink. He's a work in progress on the mound, after redshirting in 2008 because he wasn't ready for Big 12 Conference baseball, then pitching just 49 innings while pulling two-way duty the last two seasons. He doesn't have a great feel for pitching yet, and his fastball isn't a strikeout pitch despite its velocity and life. His high-70s slider is inconsistent, and while his funky delivery adds deception, it also restricts his control and command. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder is a quality athlete who could take off once he focuses on pitching—like another former Bears outfielder/pitcher, Aaron Miller, has since signing with the Dodgers as a sandwich pick last summer. Whether Pinckard will be signable if he goes around the fifth round as a draft-eligible sophomore remains to be seen. A stress fracture in his lower leg kept him out of the lineup for three weeks at midseason, but he was healthy again by the end of the regular season.
Pena Maintains Status Quo
Lefthander Miguel Pena
declined to sign with the Nationals as a fifth-round pick out of high school a year ago, and he has been the same pitcher as a freshman at San Jacinto JC this spring. He hasn't added any strength to his 6-foot-2, 160-pound frame, and he still works at 88-91 mph early in games before losing velocity in the middle innings. He has a clean delivery that he repeats well, and he throws a decent curveball and changeup. He doesn't have a plus pitch but he's a polished lefthander, and he'll probably go around the same spot again in the draft.
San Jacinto returned to the Junior College World Series for the seventh time in 10 years. As usual, pitching carried the Gators, even with two of their best pitching prospects (righthander Tommy Collier, lefthander David Rollins) succumbing to surgery. Besides Clay Schrader and Miguel Pena, three other San Jac pitchers could get picked in the first 10-12 rounds. At 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, Sean Nolin
looks like a lefthanded version of Jason Jennings. Nolin's fastball will sit at 86-89 mph in some games and 88-92 in others, and he backs it up with a solid changeup and fringy curveball. Righthander Chris McKenzie
has a more loose, projectable body at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds. He has a 90-94 mph fastball and inconsistent secondary pitches (hard slider, changeup). Righty Mark Herrera
, who started his college career at St. Mary's (Texas), has a 90-93 mph fastball that touches 96 and a mid-80s slider. Scouts don't love his 6-foot-3, 225-pound body or his delivery, though. Nolin will play at North Carolina State next year if he doesn't turn pro, while McKenzie and Herrera haven't committed to four-year schools.
San Jacinto also has a number of position players who could drafted, starting with two freshmen, outfielder Jarrett Higgins
and catcher Ryan Hornback
. Higgins offers plus speed, center-field defense and arm strength, but he's going to have to add strength to his 6-foot-1, 165-pound frame in order to hit in pro ball. Hornback has soft hands and a strong arm, but the 6-foot, 170-pounder needs more strength as well.
Catcher Bryan Holaday
is having his best season with the bat, hitting .357 with 12 homers through the Mountain West Conference tournament, where he was named MVP. He has an unorthodox righthanded stroke, yet he has barreled balls consistently in 2010. He already had established his strong catch-and-throw skills, and has lived up to his reputation by throwing out 51 percent of basestealers this year. His improved offense and usual fine defense will make him one of the better senior signs in the draft, and it's possible he could go as high as the fifth round.
In addition to having a likely first-rounder in Michael Choice, Texas-Arlington also has a pair of pitcher who could go in the first 10 rounds. Righthander Rett Varner
redshirted at Brigham Young in 2007 and turned down the Cubs when they took him in the 34th round as a draft-eligible sophomore a year ago. After a slow start, he came on strong in the second half, showing a better feel for pitching with a heavy fastball that peaks at 96. He also throws a good changeup, and a late-breaking slurve that lacks consistency. His 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame is another positive in his favor.
Mavericks righthander Jason Mitchell
turned in one of the more stunning performances of the college season, breaking Clay Hensley's Southland Conference record with 18 strikeouts and pitching 8 2/3 no-hit innings Missouri State on March 4. Mitchell's stuff isn't as overpowering as that outing would suggest, as he thrives by commanding an 87-90 mph fastball that tops out at 92, and mixing it with a fringy array of secondary pitches that includes a cutter, slider, curveball and changeup. His pitching savvy makes him a solid senior sign.
Syndergaard Makes A Leap
Righthander Noah Syndergaard
had as much helium as any Texas high schooler leading up to the draft. He led Legacy High into the 4-A regional semifinals by two-hitting Trimble Tech (Fort Worth) in the first round, striking out 10 and hitting a grand slam against Lake Dallas in the second round, and striking out 15 against Birdville in the quarterfinals. He was even better in the semis, coming within one out of a no-hitter and striking out 14 against Frenship (Wolfforth). Syndergaard has an athletic 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame, and was dealing 90-94 mph fastballs in the postseason. His curveball also was much improved, and there's talk that the Dallas Baptist recruit suddenly could sneak into the sandwich round with the right club.
Dallas Baptist secured a commitment from another big righthander, Sean O'Connor
. The 6-foot-5, 215-pounder isn't generating as much buzz as Noah Syndergaard, but he gets good sink on his low-90s fastball. O'Connor has a lot of effort in his low-three-quarters delivery and needs to refine his slurvy slider.
originally attended Texas State on a football scholarship, but tearing his hamstring on his first catch as a wide receiver convinced him his future was in baseball. A 6-foot-1, 190-pounder with solid speed and arm strength, he'll likely move from shortstop to third base after turning pro. While he has good bat speed, scouts wonder if he'll hit enough for the hot corner, because he varies his approach and chases fastballs up in the zone. He batted just .321 with four homers through the Southland Conference tournament, hurting his chances of going in the first five rounds.
has a similar background to Martinson's, going to Rice as a wide receiver on a football scholarship before injuries led him to play baseball full-time. He's one of the best athletes in the state, a 6-foot, 200-pounder who can run the 60-yard dash in 6.5-6.6 seconds and has some raw power. He struggles with pitch recognition, however, making him a sucker for breaking balls, and his well-below-average arm might relegate him to left field. A redshirt sophomore, he may not go high enough in the draft to make it worth leaving Rice.
If elbow tendinitis hadn't limited him to 23 innings, righthander Blake Barnes
might have made a case for getting drafted ahead of Howard JC teammate Burch Smith. He showed a 90-92 mph fastball, touched 95 and displayed a true slider when he was 100 percent. There's still projection remaining in his 6-foot-2, 175-pound frame. He has committed to Oklahoma State for his junior season.
intangibles and 2009 all-star summer in the Cape Cod League will get him drafted in the first 10 rounds. Scouts love his passion for the game and the way he plays above his tools, the best of which is his plus speed. He controls the strike zone and fights his way on base, but the 5-foot-10, 170-pounds lacks strength and may be more of a bottom-of-the-order hitter than a No. 1 or 2 hitter as a pro. He has an average arm and makes the routine plays at shortstop.
Weatherford JC set a school record with 39 victories this season, thanks in large part to three of the best juco pitchers in the state. Righthander Zach Nuding
has a low-90s fastball that tops out at 96, but he also has a 6-foot-4, 265-pound frame and has trouble staying on top of his slider. It may take third-round money to sign him away from a Texas Tech commitment. Righty Josh Easley
, a freshman who originally signed with Arkansas, has more pitchability. He has an 88-91 mph fastball that could hit 93 more consistently if he fills out his 6-foot-2, 165-pound build, and he owns a solid curveball. Lefty Nick Lee
, another freshman, was an all-North Texas JC Athletic Conference selection as an outfielder but has a brighter future on the mound. He's only 6 feet and 170 pounds, but he consistently throws 88-92 mph.
Ojala Recovers Quickly
Righthander Mike Ojala
had a chance to go in the top five rounds of the 2009 draft, but that went by the wayside when he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. He postponed Tommy John surgery until after the season, winning games in the Conference USA tournament and the regionals before going under the knife. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder has made a swift comeback, regaining his trademark hammer curveball and his 87-91 mph fastball. His curve is good enough that it alone could make him an effective big league reliever. After turning down the Brewers as a 34th-round pick a year ago, he could go in the top 10 rounds as a quality senior sign.
Another good senior sign is Brodie Greene
, who spooked teams when he showed little interest in signing a year ago. He would have gone in the first 10 rounds otherwise, but fell to the Phillies in the 37th. He's a versatile 6-foot-1, 195-pound athlete, he has started at every position but catcher and first base in four years at Texas A&M. A switch-hitter with plus speed, Greene makes consistent line-drive contact and has gap power. With his bat and average arm and range, he profiles best at second base. Scouts love his makeup, which he showed a year ago when he missed just a week after getting beaned and needing 10 stitches and multiple root canals to save several teeth.
isn't a typical high school pitching prospect. He's a righthander with a 6-foot, 230-pound build and doubled as a center on a state-champion football team, winning a 4-A title with Sulphur Springs High in 2008. He also has unusual stuff, a 90-94 mph with riding life and a good curveball. Despite a commitment to Arkansas, he's considered signable.
is another stocky righthander with a football background. He's generously listed at 6 feet and 210 pounds and accounted for 40 touchdowns as a quarterback in the fall. Davis helped his cause when he struck out 14 and homered to beat Bullard ace Nick Rumbelow in the second round of the Texas 3-A playoffs. A Baylor recruit, Davis has a 91-94 mph fastball and good mound presence. He shows aptitude for spinning a curveball and has feel for a changeup.
Outfielder Dexter Kjerstad
has enticing strength and speed to go with a 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame. But he's also so raw at the plate and so strongly committed to Texas that he probably won't be an early choice. With three years of polish, he could be a good pick in 2013.
posted an 8.26 ERA with more walks than strikeouts (50-49 in 57 innings) in his first season at Texas Tech, and he has three elbow surgeries (Tommy John in 2004, cleanups in 2005 and 2008) on his medical history. But scouts still are interested in him because he's a lefthander with late armside run on a 91-95 mph fastball. Six-foot-1 and 214 pounds, he throws from a low arm slot and uses a sweeping slider as his second pitch. He agreed to terms with the Orioles as a 25th-round pick out of Lethbridge (Alberta) CC last year, but flunked his physical.
Righthander Steven Maxwell
is another Tommy John survivor, having had the surgery in 2008. Texas Christian has three double-digit winners this spring, and while Matt Purke and Kyle Winkler are better prospects, Maxwell has the best ERA (10-1, 2.73 entering regional play) and is the lone draft-eligible member of the group. A redshirt junior, he has fringy to average stuff (88-90 mph fastball, slurvy slider, changeup) and lacks projection at 6 feet and 180 pounds, but he really knows how to pitch.
Gallant Can't Build On Cape
Righthander Dallas Gallant
had a breakout summer as a Cape Cod League reliever in 2009, showing a low-90s fastball and low-80s slider that figured to get him picked in the top five rounds of the 2010 draft. But when he returned to the Sam Houston State rotation this spring, he wasn't the same pitcher. He went 3-8, 4.82 and worked mostly with an upper-80s heater and a diminished slider. The 6-foot-3, 193-pounder throws across his body, which gives his pitches life but also makes them harder to control. A team that believes in what it saw in the Cape still could take him in the first 10 rounds and return him to the bullpen.
Righthander Corey Goudeau
didn't start pitching until his junior year in high school and had to walk on at Frank Phillips JC, but he has emerged as one of the best juco arms in Texas. Six-foot-2 and 205 pounds, he has the potential for two plus pitches in his 88-92 mph fastball and his slider. He has committed to Alcorn State for 2011 but is considered signable.
Righthander Craig Fritsch
jumped into the eighth round as a draft-eligible sophomore last year after throwing 93-96 mph at the Big 12 Conference tournament, but he ultimately turned down the Orioles and resumed his enigmatic career at Baylor. The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder has pitched with a lower arm slot in 2010, wasn't good early and worked at 87-91 mph for most the season. His slider and changeup are fringy, though he has thrown more strikes this spring. Fritsch redshirted as a freshman because he wasn't ready to compete in the Big 12, and scouts never have been sold on his mental toughness. His pro future likely will be as a reliever.
has the best catch-and-throw skills among Texas high school catchers. His bat needs a lot of work, but teams would be interested in him now if they didn't consider him unsignable because of his commitment to Rice. The hard-nosed 6-foot-1, 185-pounder also played running back for Monterey High's football team, which is coached by his father Todd.
requires polish, but it's easy to dream on the projectable righthander. He's 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds and already throws an 88-93 mph sinker. His secondary pitches and command are erratic because he lacks a consistent release point and often falls toward the first-base side of the mound. He has committed to Houston but may be signable.
Tulane has landed two projectable Texas high school pitchers. Righthander Jacques de Gruy
is 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, and while he's not consistent he'll show a 90-91 mph fastball and a solid slider when he's at his best. He attended high school in New Orleans before moving to Dallas in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Lefty Zak Adams
is a 6-foot-3, 175-pounder who has an 88-91 mph fastball and a good 12-to-6 curveball. He also has a medical history that includes three surgeries.
Righthander Dustin Fitzgerald's
strong suits are his 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame and an 88-90 mph fastball that touches 92. He also has flashes a solid slider and a decent changeup, so he has a chance to make it as a starter. He'll attend Texas State in 2011 if he doesn't turn pro.
may be the best pure shortstop prospect in the state, including the college and juco levels. He glides at shortstop, has sure hands and makes plays with an arm that delivers low-90s fastballs on the mound. The 6-foot-3, 190-pounder isn't as accomplished at the plate, however, and the arm bar in his swing worries some scouts. So does his signability, as he's strongly committed to Texas.
Last year, the Orioles signed 22nd-round pick Cameron Coffey, a Houston high school lefthander who had Tommy John surgery three months before the draft, for $990,000. The state has several injured pitchers whom teams could gamble on this year, though it's unlikely any of them will match Coffey's deal. That group includes: Houston righthander Jared Ray (shoulder) and Texas Tech lefthander Robbie Kilcrease (Tommy John surgery) at the college level; Howard righty Damien Magnifico (elbow), San Jacinto righty Tommy Collier (elbow) and lefty David Rollins (non-throwing shoulder), who ranked as three of Texas' top five juco pitchers coming into the season; and Klein High (Spring) righty Clayton Crum (Tommy John surgery). Magnifico was a Mets fifth-round pick a year ago after touching 95 mph as a high school senior, but he never pitched for Howard this spring after coming down with a stress fracture. Crum, the No. 2 pitcher behind Matt Purke at Klein a year ago, wasn't 100 percent but came back to pitch in the playoffs and won four games to lead his team to the 5-A regional finals. An Ohio State recruit, Crum hit 94 mph with his fastball before blowing out his elbow.