State Report: Washington

High school talent grows in Evergreen State






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
Washington hasn't had three high school players taken in the first two rounds of the draft since 2001 (Jeremy Bonderman, Andy Sisco and Alhaji Turay), but it could happen again this year. The high school class may be as strong as any since the once-in-a-lifetime class of 1999, which produced four first-rounders in B.J. Garbe, Ty Howington, Jason Stumm and Gerik Baxter. The top player this year is Josh Sale, a likely first-rounder, with a couple of other players who should go in the first three rounds at least.

Washington State is on the rise, reaching regionals in consecutive years for the first time since 1987-88, but the Cougars don't have much professional talent to offer, and college talent was generally down this year. The  junior college talent didn't measure up to last year's level, either.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Josh Sale, of, Bishop Blanchet HS, Seattle (National Rank: 10)
2. Drew Vettleson, of, Central Kitsap HS, Silverdale (National Rank: 46)
3. Ryan Brett, 2b, Highline HS, Burien (National Rank: 146)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

4. Evan Hudson, rhp, Bothell HS
5. Trace Tam Sing, ss, Newport HS, Bellevue
6. Luke Taylor, rhp, Woodinville HS
7. Drew Heid, of, Gonzaga
8. Jeff Ames, rhp, Lower Columbia JC
9. Taylor Brennan, ss, Meadowdale HS, Lynnwood
10. Scott Schultz, rhp, Gig Harbor HS
11. Jason Monda, of, Capital HS, Olympia
12. Sam Lindquist, rhp, Eastside Catholic HS
13. Cody Martin, rhp, Gonzaga
14. Troy Scott, 1b, Washington
15. Tym Pearson, of, Columbia Basin
16. Tyson Schmitt, rhp, Centralia JC
17. Chad Arnold, rhp, Washington State
18. Taylor Williams, rhp, Camas HS
19. Seth Harvey, rhp, Washington State
20. Shea Vucinich, ss, Washington State
21. Caleb Brown, of, Washington
22. Levi Dean, rhp, Lower Columbia JC
23. Cameron Booser, lhp, Fife HS
24. Nick LaRoy, rhp, Kalama HS

SCOUTING REPORTS

Josh Sale, of
Bishop Blanchet HS, Seattle

Though he works hard, Sale isn't a great fielder, thrower or runner, but there's thunder in his bat. And in a year thin on impact hitters, that's what teams will be buying with Sale in the first round. Sale's father is Samoan and ranks among the best in the nation in drug-free powerlifting. He has inherited his father's love for working out and has a rock-solid, 6-toot-1, 215-pound frame. With bat speed better than Travis Snider—one scout even called it the best bat speed he has ever seen from an amateur—Sale has raw power that approaches the top of the scouting scale. How much of his power he'll be able to use, though, is a question because of a few flaws in Sale's lefthanded swing. He has a high back elbow and sometimes strides too early, but the biggest concern is that he raises up out of his crouched stance, changing his eye level and leaving him susceptible to breaking balls. Most scouts believe the problems are fixable because he's coachable and works hard. He also has a great feel for the strike zone and a patient approach at the plate, and he's so strong that calming down his swing shouldn't sap his power. He also has great hand-eye coordination, as evidenced by the fact that he golfed with a single-digit handicap until he was 15—as a righthanded player. Scouts rave about Sale's makeup and work ethic. He is articulate and studies hard in school, but won't make it to Gonzaga.

Drew Vettleson, of
Central Kitsap HS, Silverdale, Wash.

Vettleson has generated more publicity for being a rare switch-pitcher, but he's a pro prospect as an outfielder. He sits at 88-90 mph from the right side with a good curveball, but he's a better hitter—which says a lot. Vettleson has a quiet approach in the box and he's patient with good pitch recognition. His hand positioning is unique, as he starts with his hands letter-high and deep behind his rear leg. It's a simple swing and he's short to the ball, but it also causes stiffness in his lead arm, which could cause problems when he faces better velocity. It worked for him on the showcase circuit, as he was on fire against some of the country's best pitchers all summer. His swing is smooth and scouts believe he'll make adjustments to hit for average and power. He profiles as a corner outfielder with below-average speed, but has great instincts and makeup. Vettleson hasn't played against great high school competition and has been hard to see, as he's typically pitching, playing shortstop or playing center field lefthanded. Where he ends up going in the draft will likely hinge on how he does in predraft workouts.

Ryan Brett, of/ss
Highline HS, Burien, Wash.

Brett is a throwback player who's fun to watch. He's always dirty, doesn't wear batting gloves and is a sparkplug who always plays at full speed. For most of the year he tried to switch-hit, but he reverted back to his natural righthanded swing as the draft drew near. He has a knack for getting the barrel on the ball, though sometimes he tries to play bigger than he is and scouts said they would like to see him embrace small ball. Brett is smallish at 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, but he works out regularly with Josh Sale and is strong. Scouts are split on where he'll play defensively. Some believe he'll be able to stay at second base, while others say his actions are too choppy and the game will be too fast for him there. He's an above-average runner and could be an above-average defender in center field. The speed also makes him a terror on the basepaths, and some scouts think that if he fulfilled his commitment to Gonzaga that he could bat better than .400 and steal 40-50 bases a season. In professional ball, his ceiling would be a .285 hitter with about 12 home runs and 20 stolen bases a season. He'll likely be drafted around the third round and is considered signable.

Strong Prep Crop Features Standout Athletes

Evan Hudson is a beast of an athlete at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds, and his development in football could complicate his baseball future. He committed to play baseball at Washington State last summer, but changed his mind after a strong senior season in football. He was all-King County (Seattle area) as both a tight end and defensive end, so now he'll go to Washington as an invited walk-on. He has shown a fastball up to 93 mph with life, and his curveball is inconsistent but can ben an average pitch. With his size, it's difficult for him to repeat his delivery, and he sometimes cuts himself off and shows some recoil with his arm. His talent would dictate a selection in the seventh-10th round, but his desire to play for the Huskies could cloud his stock.

Shortstop Trace Tam Sing is an athletic 6 feet and 175 pounds and plays with intensity. He shows aptitude with the bat but takes big hacks, so scouts would like to see him tone down his swing to become a gap-to-gap hitter instead of trying to blast everything out of the ballpark. He's an average runner with good hands and a strong arm at shortstop. Tam Sing is projected as a seventh-10th-rounder, but could be a tough sign in that range because of a strong commitment to Washington State.

Righthander Luke Taylor is interesting to scouts because he has such a fresh arm. A converted shortstop, he has been clocked mostly at 86-88 mph and has scraped 90. He has a 6-foot-6, 200-pound frame and the cleanest arm action in the Northwest. His curveball is soft and he's still building arm strength, but he has a lot of projection because of his size, athleticism and arm action. A team could jump up to take him in the fifth-eighth round, but it's more likely that he ends up at Hawaii.

Scouts like to say that if you can play for coach Ed Cheff at Lewis-Clark State, you can play anywhere. That's where shortstop Taylor Brennan is committed, and he fits the mold as a hard-nosed grinder. Scouts liked him as a shortstop last summer, but he bulked up in the fall, adding 20 pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-1 frame. He showed improved bat speed and strength as a result, but raised questions about his future position. He's probably no longer a shortstop but still may not have the power for the third base profile. He's an average runner.

Scott Shultz is a projectable righthander who has touched 92 mph this spring with heavy sink. He needs to improve his secondary offerings, but he throws a lot of strikes and could be in Oregon State's weekend rotation next year. He's considered a tough sign, as is 6-foot-6 righthander Sam Lindquist, who is committed to Stanford.

Outfielder Jason Monda flew under the radar because he took last summer off, but he's a 6-foot-4 and has a nice swing from the left side of the plate. He's not very strong yet, but there's projection to his body. He's an average runner with an above-average arm. If he doesn't sign, he'll head to Washington State.

Undersized righthander Taylor Williams is 6 feet and 170 pounds and is also committed to Washington State. He has been up to 91 mph with his fastball and mixes in a slider and curveball. He pounds the lower half of the strike zone and gets a lot of weak contact. Nick LaRoy has a lot in common with Williams as another undersized righthander from a small town who has committed to Washington State. LaRoy went 27-0 over his high school career, including a 20-strikeout perfect game in his final high school outing, but he will need Tommy John surgery, so he should end up in Pullman.

Cameron Booser came into the year with some hype, as a lefthander who ran his fastball up to 95 mph, but he injured his shoulder in a successful attempt to break his high school's deadlift record. He threw only one inning this spring, so he'll probably fulfill his commitment to Oregon State.

Down Year For Washington Colleges

Gonzaga outfielder Drew Heid wasn't drafted as a junior, but not because scouts don't like him. His family puts a big emphasis on education, so he wanted more money than teams were willing to offer to buy him out of his final season. At 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, Heid isn't big, but he's an absolute hitting machine from the left side of the plate. He hit .386/.475/.523 as a sophomore, .355/.408/.479 as a junior and .395/.467/.614 this year, breaking Larry Patterson's 1977 school record for most hits in a season with 92. He's not just another metal-bat wonder, either, as he batted .403/.484/.566 in the West Coast Collegiate League in 2008 and .427 in the Alaska League last summer, more than 100 points higher than his closest rival. Heid has little to offer beyond his bat, however. He's an average runner with good instincts in the outfield, but if he can't stay in center field he could just be a fourth outfielder because doesn't have much power.

Righthander Cody Martin has a good frame and pitched well for the Bulldogs on Friday nights in his first year starting. His velocity took a step down from what he showed out of the bullpen and he pitched at 87-89 mph, touching 90 on occasion. He has a full arsenal of pitches and throws a lot of strikes.

Washington State's best prospect is righthander Chad Arnold. He has average command, but his stuff is fringy across the board. Righander Seth Harvey is in his fourth year at Wazzu and is still a one-trick pony. It's fastball after fastball after fastball. His fastball sits 90-92 and has above-average life, but that's all he has.

Washington was a .500 team this year under new coach Lindsay Meggs, who is working to change the culture around the program. The Huskies' best players are freshmen and sophomores, and most scouts believe their draft-eligible players will be back next season after underwhelming seasons.

It was a banner year for Northwest junior colleges last year, but this year the talent is down. The best prospect is righthander Jeff Ames, who was a 46th-round pick by the Phillies last year and has improved significantly. His velocity has jumped from 86-88 mph to 89-91, and he tightened up his secondary pitches as well. He got bigger and stronger—now standing 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds—which improved his arm speed. He still needs to work on throwing more quality strikes. Ames' teammate, righthander Levi Dean, is 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and shows good pitchability in the upper 80s. He is committed to Tennessee.

Righthander Tyson Schmitt is 6-foot-6 and has been clocked up to 94 mph. But he is a bit of a mystery to scouts. He didn't play baseball his senior year of high school because he didn't enjoy it, and he has told scouts this year he has no interest in professional baseball. He is expected to transfer to Washington next year.

Outfielder Tym Pearson was a 35th-round pick by the Rockies last year out of an Oregon high school, where he was a two-sport standout. He gave up football to focus on baseball this year, but he didn't show much against better competition with a wood bat, so he'll likely return to school.