State Report: California, Part 2
Best of the rest, beyond national Top 200 prospects
See also: California Scouting Reports, Part I
Four-Year Colleges: Wait 'Til Next Year
Southern California has college talent this year, but should be even better in 2011, with the likes of UCLA righthanders Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, plus Cal State Fullerton's large sophomore class and USC power bat Ricky Oropesa, among others. However, this season's class does have interesting players, including several who have gone through the draft before.
Righthander Andrew Triggs
needed Tommy John surgery as a prep senior and missed the 2008 season, but he rebounded nicely in 2009 by posting a 5-3, 3.96 mark for Southern California. After a solid summer in the New England Collegiate League last year, Triggs had a strong fall and was poised for a breakout season. Instead, he got off to a brutal start in 2010, causing his draft stock to plummet. He eventually regained his spot as USC's Friday night starter and finished the season 2-7, 3.95 with 62 strikeouts and 21 walks in 71 innings, numbers not terribly different than his sophomore season. Triggs' repertoire includes a 90-92 mph four-seam fastball that can touch 94, a changeup, curveball and slider. His most effective pitch is his mid- to high-80s two-seam fastball, which starts above a hitter's hands and suddenly drops down and under his swing. He gave up just five home runs in 145 college innings. Triggs' 6-foot-3, 210-pound build and stuff permit him to fit any one of three roles as a pro: mid-rotation starter, closer or most likely, a set-up reliever.
Loyola Marymount rigthander Martin Viramontes
is an imposing physical specimen whose results have yet to equal his ability. His power fastball sits at 92-94 mph and often peaks at 95-96, and he adds a curveball and changeup with splitter action. Both of those offerings have potential, but Viramontes throws only about 20 percent of his curves for a strikes. He has never performed at a consistent level, with his career interrupted by an elbow injury in 2009 that forced him to take a medical redshirt after pitching six innings. Viramontes went 4-7, 7.53 this season and gave up 39 extra-base hits (including eight home runs) in 72 innings. Most of his struggles can be traced to mechanical issues. He can't find a consistent arm slot, affecting both the command and velocity of his pitches. He's advised by Boras Corp. and could be a tough sign. Viramontes could easily evolve into a closer, particularly if he solves his command issues.
Pepperdine's Matt Bywater
will benefit from the lack of lefties in this year's draft. He began the 2010 season in brilliant fashion by pitching a shutout at Cal State Fullerton, shutting down top prospects Gary Brown and Christian Colon in the process. He has continued to pitch well despite a lack of run support from the Pepperdine hitters and led the nation in shutouts while going 5-5, 2.29 overall. Calm and composed, Bywater works at a steady pace, keeps his emotions in control and has a businesslike demeanor on the mound. A poor man's Brian Matusz, Bywater uses pitching savvy to make up for what he lacks in velocity. He works his 88-89 mph fastball to either side of the plate, and he can get it to run, sink or dip. His curve and change seem to disappear from hitters' view at the last instant. He shows an advanced ability to mix his pitches, change speeds and locations and vary pitching patterns. Profiling as a mid- to back-of-the-rotation starter or situational lefty, Bywater could move quickly through a club's system.
Fellow lefty Mario Hollands
of UC Santa Barbara has better size at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, and resembles, in both build and delivery, David Price of the Rays. Of course, his stuff is not as electric, but Hollands figures to have value as either a starter or lefthanded relief specialist. Drafted by the Twins last year as a redshirt sophomore in the 24th round, Hollands has nothing overpowering but shows a five-pitch assortment. He displays an 88-91 mph four-seam fastball, 83 mph two-seamer, curveball, slider and changeup. The knock on Hollands is that he's susceptible to a big innings, which are usually attributable to sudden mechanical breakdowns such as opening his front side too soon, dropping his arm slot and losing his leg drive.
UC Irvine's Daniel Bibona
didn't sign as the Cardinals' 16th-round pick last year and had another banner season for the Anteaters, going 9-2, 2.10 with a 100-15 strikeout-walk ratio in 90 innings. He's 30-6 the last three seasons overall. Bibona is not physically imposing at 6 feet, 170 pounds, and he doesn't have dominant stuff, but he has a strong track record of performance. Reminiscent of Tom Glavine in build and approach, Bibona throws his fastball at 86-89 mph, with excellent movement and command. He can run into trouble when he attempts to overthrow the fastball, and he doesn't have the raw velocity to challenge hitters up in the zone. He has a solid feel for his changeup, and some scouts believe his curveball is his best pitch. Bibona can take vary its speed, down to 74 mph or up near slider speed at 78-79. Bibona can eat away both corners of the plate with both his fastball and curve.
For three years, righthander Daniel Renken
has been a mainstay in Cal State Fullerton's weekend rotation. Early struggles this season got him bumped out of his usual Friday starter role by sophomore Noe Ramirez, but Renken settled into the Saturday starter's job and performed well. He was 10-2, 3.96 in 86 innings heading into regionals. No one would call Renken's delivery a work of art. His motion is funky, with an elaborate backswing in which he wraps the ball well behind his back leg. Renken then jumps at the hitter, appearing to decelerate his arm and push the ball toward the plate. While not overpowering, Renken gets good movement on his pitchers and has good secondary stuff, making him effective when his command is right. His fastball sits at 88-89 mph and can touch 91 with decent sink. His slider is a nice pitch with late break, but his best offering is his changeup, which drops suddenly and is hard for the hitter to recognize. He'll throw it to any hitter in any count. Renken has a tall and lean pitcher's frame and profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
began his college career at Miami, hitting .293 with five homers in 123 at-bats as a freshman. After a successful tour in the Alaska League, he transferred to Long Beach State, forcing him to sit out last season. The nephew of ex-big leaguer Mike Greenwell, Terdoslavich is a big-bodied third baseman at 6-foot-2, 200 pounds. He started slow but rebounded, and he was hitting .323/.378/.484 with seven home runs, impressive numbers for Long Beach's cavernous Blair Field. From both sides of the plate, Terdoslavich employs the modern power hitter's swing. He loads up with a hard uppercut and a high finish, looking to put backspin on the ball and drive it out of the yard. During batting practice, pitches ricocheting off of his bat make a distinct, loud ping. Long Beach State has used him at the hot corner, though his hands and actions are short for him to stay there as a pro. A move to first base is likely. His arm is decent but his speed is below-average.
is the son of Greg Vaughn, the former major league slugger who hit 355 career home runs. The younger Vaughn first caught the attention of scouts at the 2006 Area Code Games, where he flashed a powerful arm and plus speed, in the 6.7-second range. Blessed with an Adonis body at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Corey got off to a blazing start in his freshman year at San Diego State, but since has been something of an underachiever. He often struggles with breaking pitches and stuff down and away, though he looked better late this spring and ran his numbers to .378/.454/.606 with nine homers. Vaughn shows hints of his terrific tools, with 15 steals in 16 tries, but his swing-and-miss tendencies hinder his raw power. He had 55 strikeouts in 188 at-bats this season and 180 in 592 at-bats for his career. Still, Vaughn does have an athletic big league frame, and his arm, speed and power, combined with his major league lineage, will no doubt prompt a team to take a chance.
The Big West's home run leader for much of the year was Cal State Fullerton's Christian Colon, but late in the year Cal State Northridge second baseman Ryan Pineda
passed him. Pineda has offensive instincts, an aggressive swing and an aggressive approach at the plate. He stole 24 bases as a senior but is an average runner.
Another power/speed prospect is UC Santa Barbara's Mark Haddow
, a fullback-sized outfielder with 6.7-second speed in the 60 and a plus throwing arm. Haddow lacks the most important tool, though. He has batted just .285 with 10 home runs overall the last two seasons in 309 at-bats. Teammate Kevin Gelinas
, whose career has wound through Pepperdine and Central Arizona JC, is big lefty reliever who can touch 94 mph with his fastball—when healthy. He threw just five innings all season due to an elbow strain and had received a medical redshirt. Junior righthander Jesse Meaux
misses few bats but can reach the low 90s with his four-seamer and was a strike-throwing workhorse for the Gauchos, issuing just 14 free passes in 91 innings.
Drafted last year by the A's, righthander Garrett Claypool
has been one of the best midweek starters in the nation for pitching-rich UCLA. Claypool has sharpened his command and bumped his velocity up into the low 90s. Bruins lefty Matt Grace has done a terrific job out of the bullpen this year, with an 88-89 mph fastball and wicked low 80s curveball.
San Diego is loaded with draft candidates once again, even beyond its twin aces of Kyle Blair and Sammy Solis. Victor Sanchez
looked like a potential first-rounder as a freshman, but injuries (particularly to his shoulder) and inconsistency have plagued him in the past two seasons. While he frequently plays DH or first base instead of third, Sanchez has power in his sweet swing, and a club may take a gamble on him as the Cubs did in 2007 in the 25th round. Senior outfielder James Meador
returned to USD after last year's draft. A compact righthanded hitter with pop in his bat, Meador is a bit unpolished as a defender but has a track record for hitting—he's batted at least .374 each of the last three seasons. Big and physical at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds, Zach Walters is a lefty-hitting shortstop with fine tools but not a great deal of power. He's also battled injuries this year, including a dislocated thumb. Six-foot-2, 200-pound Mike Ferraro
is a lefty-hitting outfielder with an ideal frame, excellent speed and a strong arm. His bat (.342/.409/.467) came to life this year after nagging physical problems the past three seasons, including his time at Orange Coast JC.
San Diego's Sunday starter, senior A.J. Griffin
is a mature righthander with a fastball that ranges from the high 80s to low 90s. He has a tendency to elevate the pitch and giving up home runs but has had an excellent career, going 14-6 the last two seasons after racking up 25 saves his first two years. He also has a good changeup and throws two breaking balls. Matt Thomson
has enjoyed an excellent season coming out of the bullpen, striking out 56 in 41 innings. While his fastball is not blazing at 89 mph, he moves it around the zone and throws strikes.
Loyola Marymount's Matt Koch
, whose older brother Brady played for the Lions from 2001-2004, emerged as the team's best power hitter this season with 15 home runs. The redshirt sophomore's defensive skills as a catcher are not outstanding, but his raw power may appeal to clubs seeking a backstop with pop.
Cal State Dominguez Hills outfielder Kevin Pillar
grabbed headlines with a 54-game hitting streak this season, but he's more solid than spectacular, with average tools aside from the bat. Pillar does not show a great deal of power, but he is a savvy hitter who can spray line drives to all fields—ideal for a long hit streak. Pillar hit .379 and stole 12 bases overall, and teammate Abel Medina
had a better year, batting .394/.462/.664. He has a quick lefthanded bat, uses the whole field and flashes intriguing power. He's a well-below-average runner, though, and is unlikely to stay at third, his college position.
possesses a big league corner outfielder's frame at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds. For a big man, he runs well and has a decent arm, but his bat rarely fulfilled its promise in previous seasons, as he didn't even homer and got just 38 at-bats in his first two years at Westwood. He made noticeable strides at bat in 2010. In a game against Southern California, Krill blasted a mammoth home run that cleared both the center-field fence and the tall hitting backdrop at UCLA's ballpark. For some scouts, Krill is still a tease, as he was batting just .297/.359/.480 with six homers this season. His intriguing package of size and tools gives him a shot at a single-digit round, though.
Prep Talent Runs Deep
, a Southern California recruit, is a solid, workmanlike receiver with a classic strong catcher's frame and quality catching skills. He's not a great athlete, recording only a 7.30-second time in the 60-yard dash and a 25.2-inch vertical leap at last year's Area Code Games. His showcase pop times were in the 1.95-2.00-second range, but he lowered those to 1.85-1.90 this spring. His release is quick and his throws have good velocity and straight-line carry. Hernandez is not the smoothest catcher around, but his receiving skills should grade out to major league average. Early on, some scouts dismissed Hernandez's bat as that of a backup catcher, but his bat had come around. In the MLB preseason scouts showcase in February at Compton, he ripped a long wood-bat triple to right-center on a day when pitchers dominated. Hernandez profiles as a reliable catcher defensively, and his ability to start will depend on his progress with the bat.
Tall and projectable at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds, catcher Wynston Sawyer
has committed to UC Riverside, where he could take over the catching duties after Rob Brantly departs for pro ball. Sawyer has a smooth and whippy righthanded swing and profiles as an average to plus hitter with similar power. His bat is hindered by two factors: He swings down at pitches, preventing his cut from being on the same plane as the ball, and he wraps the bat barrel behind his head, adding length to his swing. As a catcher, Sawyer has handled quality pitches well, showing fine hands along with a comfortable, quiet receiving style. Teams aren't sure they want to buy Sawyer out of his Riverside commitment, in part because he needs to strengthen his throwing arm and quicken his release. His pop times hover around 2.12 seconds and will improve with the proper adjustments. If he continues to develop, Sawyer could follow Brantly's draft path in 2013.
Righthander Jesus Valdez
gained traction as an elite prospect last June, when he impressed at a showcase at the Urban Youth Academy in Compton. At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Valdez works quickly, is aggressive and loves challenging hitters while being the center of attention on the mound. His heavy fastball ranges from 91-93 mph with late life. He adds an excellent curveball, but he'll need to improve his changeup. Lanky and projectable, Valdez has a buggy-whip arm action, with some funkiness and an awkward restriction in the back of his arm stroke that raises injury concerns among scouts. Valdez will begin his pro career as a starter, but he may profile best as a high-energy reliever.
Doctors diagnosed a stress fracture and a ligament strain in Vincent Velasquez's
right elbow in January 2009, so his arm was placed in a cast for six weeks and he then went on a lengthy rehab program. He played shortstop and the outfield and even tried throwing lefthanded, but he didn't pitch last season. His first serious return to the mound was at MLB's preseason showcase in February, and he was the star of the event with a sensational one-inning stint. He fired a 93 mph fastball and added a wicked curveball and drop-dead changeup. The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder's outings during the spring were uneven, to put it mildly, and he was dreadful in an early season start in front of 40 scouts. Velasquez is a legitimate two-way player and could also serve as a switch-hitting infielder at Cal State Fullerton if he doesn't sign. While his actions and arm are impressive on the left side of the infield, his range, speed and bat are not early-round material. Velasquez exhibits a loose, angular and projectable build, a fluid delivery and tremendous stuff when he's on. To sign him away from Fullerton, however, scouts will need to be convinced that Velasquez has completely committed to pitching.
Third baseman Hunter Jones
is the son of Tracy Jones, a former big leaguer selected in the first round of the 1983 draft by the Reds out of Loyola Marymount. Like his dad, Hunter is a multi-tool talent and is committed to Loyola Marymount. With an athletic 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame, Jones has a powerful arm and well-above-average speed—4.0 to 4.10 seconds from the right side of the plate to first base with a clean start. His hands and actions aren't quite smooth enough for the hot corner, but a future move to the outfield should suit him well. Concerns about Jones' bat will move him down in the draft. He has bat speed but often drags the barrel through the zone, resulting in weakly hit balls toward the right side of the diamond. If his bat comes around, Jones could be a first-round candidate in 2013.
Outfielder Aaron Siliga
is threatening to eclipse the hitting records set at Oceanside High by Matt Cerda, a fourth-round pick of the Cubs in 2008. Similar to Cerda, Siliga is a compact and powerfully built lefthanded hitter who possesses bat speed and power. Siliga first came to the attention of scouts and recruiters with a terrific wood-bat BP session prior to a scout ball game in Orange County last fall. Considered signable, Siliga will probably attend Palomar JC if he goes to school.
Catcher Aaron Jones
has attracted significant buzz late in this spring season, and some even liked him better than Stefan Sabol. While that may be a stretch, Jones is a powerfully built 6-foot-1, 205-pounder with interesting power potential generated from a sweeping uppercut swing. His release and catching skills are raw, unrefined and somewhat stiff. He employs a spread-out, crouching stance at the plate, with his hands held well beyond his back shoulder. An Oregon recruit like Sabol, Jones will be a tough sign.
Several likely draft picks in Southern California come with big league bloodlines, and others have ties to other sports and of course the entertainment industry. Shortstop Pat Valaika's
older brothers Chris and Matt were drafted by the Reds out of UC Santa Barbara. He's similar to both siblings in that he doesn't have huge tools but is a instinctive baseball player. Valaika will probably take the college route as well, though he has committed to UCLA.
Younger brother of San Diego State ace Addison Reed, Austin Reed
is a tall and physical righty who has battled mechanical and command issues all spring. Reed's fastball sits in the high 80s and can peak at 90-91. He's also committed to the Aztecs.
Son and grandson of former big leaguers, Colton Keough
is an athletic outfielder with terrific speed. His family has been featured on the television show "Real Housewives of Orange County." An intriguing talent, Keough has yet to hit on a consistent basis, reminiscent of his toolsy older brother Shane, who is in the Athletics organization.
Many of the top high school programs in the Southland have their usual quota of top prospects. Righthander Tony Amezcua
hails from Bellflower High, the same school that produced Phillies prospect Anthony Gose. Tall and rangy, Amezcua delivers a low 90s fastball to go with a firm changeup and mid-70s curveball. He's already 19 and could draw attention in rounds eight to 15.
of Chaminade Prep is a showcase regular with fine speed, clocking around 6.72 seconds in the 60. A multi-position player, his best spot may be in the outfield but his bat will need to improve. He and righthander Jimmy Sherfy
are headed to Oregon. Sherfy's dad Brad is the former UCLA golf coach, and Jimmy pitches in the high 80s to low 90s in spite of his 5-foot-10, 150-pound frame. Another smallish righthander, David Armendariz
has caught at showcases but works primarily as a pitcher. Committed to Pepperdine, the 5-foot-10 Armendariz throws a heavy 90 mph fastball.
Righthander Andrew Thurman
and lefthander Bobby Wheatley
led Orange County powerhouse Orange Lutheran deep into the district playoffs once again. Thurman offers a high-80s fastball that can touch 90, and Wheatley tosses a mid-80s fastball with a good curveball. Thurman has committed to UC Irvine, while Wheatley is a Southern California recruit.
is a showcase regular who has pitched sparingly in 2010. Local scouts have been frustrated with trying to figure out when he will pitch, so they'll probably let him head on to UC Santa Barbara. Big and strong, Berglund can deliver a low 90s fastball, and he has flashed a changeup that's too firm now but has potential and a solid curveball.
is a tall, thin righthander with a lot of projectability. He easily delivers a mid- to high-80s fastball now with a decent curve, and is reportedly headed to Long Beach State.
is a football and baseball star whose father was a standout at Loyola Marymount in the early 1970s. He broke his jaw in a freak practice accident and had to have it wired shut, and he missed time early in the spring with cracked ribs that lingered from football season. While he does not run or field well, Jelmini shows promise in his dead-pull lefthanded bat.
Long Beach State has a strong shortstop tradition in the last 10 years, producing big leaguers Bobby Crosby, Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria, plus Nationals prospect David Espinosa and 2010 draft prospect Devin Lohman. Cody Harris
, who is 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, could be the next in line. He has teamed in the past with Zach Wilson and Aaron Hicks at Long Beach's Wilson High. He has some strength and has improved his swing.
Petter Paces Juco Crop In Southern California
Coached by former Brigham Young ace Nate Fernley, El Camino JC reached its first state final four berth since 1951. Drafted twice previously, lefthander Kyle Petter
was the team's top player. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder hit eight regular-season homers and was 11-0, 1.74 entering the postseason. Fitter and stronger than in previous seasons, Petter tosses an 88-89 mph fastball that can touch 91 and an over-the-top, near 12-to-6 curveball. Committed to Division II Lynn (Fla.), Petter is reportedly signable.
Teammate Josh Thompson
, a lefthanded hitter, features blazing speed and good range in center field, where he's a plus defender. Thompson has swiped 28 bases this year, and his bat has shown marked improvement. Catcher Aaron Deguire
is a good defender despite being relatively new to the position, thanks to his above-average athletic ability. He has shown 1.86-1.9 pop times to go with good bat speed, and might be signable despite his Hawaii commitment.
The state's best junior-college position player prospect is Cerritos second baseman Joe Terry
a Cal State Fullerton recruit and unsigned 17th round pick of the
Mariners in 2009. As a freshman at at Long Beach Poly High in 2005,
Terry was a teammate of DeSean Jackson, a two-sport standout who is now a star wide receiver
with the Philadelphia Eagles. Terry is not as fast as Jackson—who is?—but while the rap on
Jackson as a baseball player was that he couldn't hit, that's not a
problem Terry faces. A lefthanded hitter, he displays an
exceptionally quick bat and the ability to hit the ball hard to all
fields. An above-average runner with 6.7 speed, Terry is an aggressive
baserunner with a knack for stealing bases and taking the extra bag.
Defensively, Terry's arm is comfortably suited for second base. His
fielding is a bit unrefined, but with experience his
glove grades out to big league average. Early in the 2010 season, Terry
missed time with a shoulder injury but returned to action in the middle
of April. A healthy Terry profiles as an athletic and speedy second
baseman, with the ability to hit, create headaches on the bases and
play adequate defense.
Righthander Nick Quezada
emerged as the best pitcher on the Cerritos JC staff this year, though he went just 3-6, 4.34. A mid-round draft prospect who is also coveted by D-I schools, Quezada fires a low-90s fastball but has struggled with secondary pitches, including a curveball and changeup that has some potential.
Cypress JC has its own power arm in Travis Garrett
, a 5-foot-11 dynamo who has dabbled in relief this season. A bit raw and unrefined, he has touched 93-94 mph with his fastball and struck out 34 in 32 innings.
Santa Ana JC has produced many fine players, among them Braves pitching star Kris Medlen. Rigthander R.J. Hively
, a tall and rangy righthander, may follow in that tradition. He smoothly delivers a 88-89 mph fastball from a frame that promises more velocity in the future.
Speedy Compton JC shortstop Alfredo Gomez
may have to switch to second base as a pro, though he's acceptable at short with a decent arm. Gomez has surprising bat speed for a wiry player. His swing is far too long on the back end, and he may benefit from shortening his stride and attempting to spray to ball to all fields.
Drafted out of Tustin High by the Yankees, Orange Coast JC's Mycal Stokes
has been viewed as a disappointment by most scouts. He has an ideal frame, a good arm and fine speed, but he has never produced with the bat. Conversely, the bat of outfielder Jordan Tripp
, a transfer from Cal State Fullerton to Golden West JC who has impressive tools and a pro frame, has finally started to fulfill his promise at bat this year, hitting .364 with more walks than strikeout and good speed for a man his size (6-foot-4, 210 pounds). Still just 20, he may return to a D-I school if he does not sign. Golden West teammate Chris Devenski
has reached the low 90s with his fastball and plays a solid shortstop. He's committed to Cal State Fullerton.
Dropping down from Long Beach State to Cypress JC has not hurt Matt Avery
, a lefthanded-hitting outfielder with interesting power to center and right and an aggressive approach. Teammate Erik Hempe
has flashed power with 15 homers but lacks a natural defensive position. Courted heavily by Pepperdine out of high school, Dimitri DeLaFuente
has had mixed results in his two-year Cypress career. A multi-tool prospect who is an alumnus of the Area Code Games and USA Baseball's 16U team, DeLaFuente runs well but is a spotty defender. His bat can often be quiet, but De La Fuente has been known to suddenly jolt the ball, and he batted .419 with seven homers.
Northern California Has Plenty Of Talent Too
While Southern California produces more big league talent than any region of the country, Northern California isn't far behind. The area's prep players often are difficult to sign and wind up in college, emerging as premium talents three years later. The 2008 draft was a perfect example, as players such as David Cooper (California), Brandon Crawford (UCLA), James Darnell (South Carolina), Tyson Ross (Cal) and Brett Wallace (Arizona State) were drafted in the first two rounds out of college after playing (often together) for the NorCal Baseball travel team.
Six-foot-7, 225-pound Aaron Judge
is reminiscent of former Astros flamethrower J.R. Richard. One look at Judge and his delivery is enough to hook most scouts, with the feeling they're looking at a future big leaguer. He pounds the bottom of the strike zone with tremendous tilt. His delivery is smooth and hitters tend to swing at his 87-90 mph fastball like it's 93, while his overhand curveball has good spin and late break. With his large hands, Judge has yet to master a changeup grip. He added a split-finger fastball that should be relatively easy for him to pick up. Judge is also a physical righhanded hitter with power and good speed, going down the line in times as low as 4.20 seconds. More scouts like him on the mound. He has committed to Fresno State.
Finding big league talent outside of the top few rounds is as good as gold to MLB clubs, which makes 6-foot-5, 230-pound righthander Daniel Child
interesting. He can get his fastball up to 95 mph and sit in the low 90s, but he tends to pitch in the 88-91 range, striving for more control. Scouts who catch him on the right day will see a power downer breaking ball with good velocity and bite, somewhat reminiscent of a Brad Lidge slider. But his delivery is not easy on the eyes, and he is not a strike thrower, though he has gained more control while working with a private pitching coach. Child has below-average athleticism and had little high school success heading into his senior season. He is committed to Oregon State.
High school talents that pop up the summer after their junior year quickly gain a lot of attention. Sam Tuivailala
attended a small showcase in Sacramento last summer and started a lot of buzz when he hit 93 mph on the gun. He also showed bat speed and strength as a position player and is being considered by some scouts as a third baseman. At 6-foot-2, 185-pounds, Tuivailala has good size and strength and a projectable frame. He has long arms and legs and has athletic agility. His secondary stuff is evolving. His curveball is a tweener pitch that should be a slider from his three-quarters slot, and he lacks a third pitch. He sits in the 88-89 mph range, with movement. He lacks a lot of mound time and an organization that is strong in pitching development will value him most. Tuivailala joins Judge in Fresno State's recruiting class.
Righthander Nick Vander Tuig
would have gotten first-round consideration had he not injured his elbow last spring throwing from right field in a high school game. He had Tommy John surgery, and for a club to sign him this June would take a leap of faith. Prior to the injury, the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder showed a fastball in the 90-93 mph range with good sink. His slider looked capable of being an above-average pitch, though it was inconsistent. Vander Tuig's arm speed and lean, strong body are both attractive attributes, but he'll probably head on to UCLA.
A multi-sport high school athlete who shows Division I football talent and aptitude on the diamond will get plenty of interest from scouts, and Louie Lechich
is just that type of athlete. At 6-foot-4, 195-pounds, Lechich looks the part on the mound and in the batter's box. For most scouts he was a pitching prospect before last summer, but the more they saw him topping out in the high 80s and relying on craft, the less they liked him on the mound. At the same time, he started swinging the bat well. He is strong and has a knack for getting the barrel to the ball, with the ability to drive the ball in the middle of the field. He is more of a line-drive, gap hitter but has home run strength, along the lines of a Ryan Sweeney. Lechich has signed with California.
made the most of his opportunities with wood bats. Stoutly built at 5-foot-8, 190 pounds, Rodriguez has played up the middle and at third base and has even pitched, but has now settled in at catcher. He has an above-average arm, a strong baseball IQ and he can hit. His strong, compact swing drives the ball with power to all fields. He is not the prettiest guy in a uniform and physical projection is not on his side, but he can hit and as a high school catcher, his bat matters even more. Rodriguez has signed with Oregon State.
Though more scouts seem to prefer shortstop James Roberts
as a pitcher, he has more value and ability as a position player. Roberts has a chance to be an impact middle infielder similar to another Silicon Valley shortstop/pitcher from a few years ago, Troy Tulowitzki. Roberts is a lean and wiry strong at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, and is going to continue to fill out. He has plus bat speed and drives the ball to all fields, while consistently staying inside the ball. In the field he is capable of making the standout play but also has a tendency to unleash wild throws with his plus arm. Roberts is also an above-average runner, occasionally getting down the line in 4.2 seconds. He projects to have average power and above-average hitting ability. There will be growing pains in the field and if he can't stay at shortstop, he is a natural second baseman. He can get up to 92 mph on the mound and flashes an above-average curveball. Roberts has committed to Southern California.
College Ranks In NorCal Lack Depth
If he had been more signable and more consistent, California reliever Brian Diemer
likely would have been drafted in the top 10 rounds after his redshirt sophomore year in 2009. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Diemer has all the attributes of a pitching prospect and on his best days compares with some of the top pitching prospects in the nation. His arm is loose, strong and works easily from a high three-quarters slot. He can touch 94 mph and work in the 89-92 range deep into games, at times showing average life. Diemer started 10 games during his sophomore year but moved to the bullpen this spring due to the inconsistency of his secondary pitches. He will flash some average sliders, splits and changeups, so he keeps scouts interested, particularly with his body, arm action and good fastball. Diemer tends to give up too many hits and walks without missing as many bats as his stuff suggests he could. Focusing on pitching off his fastball in pro ball will be a good thing for him, and he will be a good pick as the draft moves past the third round.
San Francisco's Stephen Yarrow
was a sleeper prospect coming out of the Lake Tahoe area in high school, known for his raw power. Three years later, he's more of a known entity, as he is country strong and has legitimate plus power from the left side. At 6-foot-4, 205-pounds, he looks the part too. Yarrow hit 13 home runs as a sophomore and had 16 more as a junior to lead the West Coast Conference. He also swings and misses regularly, though he trimmed his ratio from 75 in 202 at-bats (37 percent) to 59 in 193 ABs (31 percent). He is not fleet of foot, and his defensive skill set is suited more for first base than third. Offensively he compares favorably to former Fresno State standout Tommy Mendonca.
Had he not been injured last year, Santa Clara's Tommy Medica
would have been drafted. He was granted a medical redshirt after a shoulder injury (non-throwing related) required surgery. The problem is that Medica was not throwing all that well during his sophomore year to begin with, which was hurting his value as a catcher, and this year he had caught just two innings. A career .367 hitter, Medica had a career-best 12 homers this spring but has below-average power for the professional level and fringe-average speed. He has been playing the outfield this year to protect his arm but has more value as a catcher. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Medica is a well-above-average receiver, blocks well and has leadership qualities. His bat alone may not be enough to carry him beyond a utility role, which he could fill as an athlete with aptitude and the ability to play multiple positions.
Fresno State middle infielder Danny Muno
, the younger brother of San Diego infielder Kevin Muno, was the leadoff man and shortstop for the Bulldogs' surprise 2008 College World Series championship team as a freshman. Muno is a very good baseball player with athletic ability, the type of player who plays above his tools. Offensively he profiles best as a two-hole or even leadoff hitter with his good plate discipline and ability to steal some bags. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Muno is a switch-hitter with well-below-average home run power, but he'll get his fair share of doubles and an occasional triple while profiling as an average hitter thanks to good plate discipline. At Fresno, he had a sterling 160-108 walk-strikeout ratio. Defensively, he is capable of playing either spot up the middle and will be at least an average defender. In some respects he compares with Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts.
Even during his highly decorated high school career at Chatsworth High, Bobby Coyle
spent time in the shadow of teammates Matt Dominguez and Mike Moustakas, both first-round picks in 2007. Due to signability concerns, he slipped to the 19th round (Indians) that year and attended Arizona. Coyle transferred to Fresno State last fall and had a solid year for the Bulldogs after getting a waiver from the NCAA that allowed him to play without sitting out a year. At 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, Coyle has an attractive left/left profile. His stats (.344/.366/.545, 10 homers) do not reflect it, but he has average power. He has good pitch recognition skills, which means he has a chance to be a high on-base percentage hitter, but needs to exercise more patience and plate discipline, which is also reflected in his stats (nine walks). He is not a burner, but an above-average runner and projects as an average left fielder.
The junior college ranks in California are not as strong as they used to be, thanks in large part to the termination of the draft-and-follow process, and two NorCal teams met for California's state championship for just the second time ever. Ohlone JC won its first state title, beating San Mateo JC in the championship game. Early in the spring, Ohlone lefthander Roberto Padilla
was creating a lot of buzz off a good freshman season and the development of his fastball velocity and usable breaking ball. Padilla also finished well, beating El Camino JC in the opener of the state's final four championship round. He has a chance to be a complete lefthander, with a nice repertoire and projectable frame. His fastball has been up to 91 mph but his stuff fell off this spring, most often in the 85-88 mph range. His changeup projects as an above-average pitch at times, though it can be too firm. His curveball now projects as an average pitch. He has a short backside arm action that can be tough to pick up, and when spotting his fastball he is effective with the fastball/changeup combination. He has signed with San Jose State, where former Ohlone coach Tom Kunis is the pitching coach.
Last year, two Northern California juco pitchers went in the sixth round (Bradin Hagens and Chris Balcom-Miller) and righthander Matt Vedo
compares with those two as a 6-foot-3, 195-pounder who can run his fastball up to 94 mph. It sits in the 89-91 range, and he holds his velocity when pitching from the stretch. His curveball projects as a legitimate out pitch with good velocity and sharp downer bite. If he can develop a useful changeup, he has middle-of-the-rotation stuff. There is some effort in his delivery and his arm action is more suited to a split than a changeup, which suggests that he could be better suited to the bullpen, where he would have a chance to develop two plus pitches. Vedo has committed to UC Riverside.
Beyond The Top 10 Rounds
Few pitchers look as good in a uniform as Fresno State senior Sean Bonesteele
, and with a steady 88-91 mph fastball that touches 93, a decent curveball and a changeup he shows some feel for, Bonesteele will be a nice later-round pick. He had his most success as a middle reliever this season, going 5-0, 3.34 with a pair of saves, and has a fresh arm, having pitched just under 115 innings in four seasons at Fresno.
Fresno State has also put together a good recruiting class and righthander Will Anderson
could be a key member. He has a good feel for pitching, with an upper 80s fastball that flirts with 90-91 on occasion and good movement. His curveball is a slurvy, and he also mixes in a split. Anderson's older brother John was drafted out of Chabot JC by the Blue Jays in 2008.
Righthander Cole Wells
would have been a great draft-and-follow. He checks in a 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and can run his fastball up to an occasional 91 mph, while pitching in the 86-89 range. He is committed to Fresno State but has a long way to go with his other pitches. Lefthander Tyler Linehan
is yet another Fresno State signee who will get draft consideration. Scouts don't like his stocky build, but he is competitive and has good stuff. Linehan pitches with an overhand slot, has a fastball in the upper 80s and can really spin a big overhand curveball.
Pacific's J.B. Brown
can hit; he batted .378 and .390 the last two seasons despite drawing just 20 walks in more than 430 plate appearances, and he has looked like a good hitter since his appearance at the Area Code Games back in 2006. At 6-foot-1, 215 pounds, Brown is a strong, physical lefthanded hitter and has the bat speed to continue to hit as a pro. His power is to the gaps. If he stays at second base his bat profiles well.
Scouts took a look at Nathan Gonzalez
coming out of high school, but signability concerns pushed him to St. Mary's. He is now at Merced JC and scouts are back. He is a thickly built righthander with a fastball in the upper 80s and good feel for the curveball. Gonzalez doesn't offer much projection but has a strong arm and durable build that will serve him well.
San Francisco has more draft-eligible prospects than any other NorCal college team. Righthander Doug Murray
is one of the more interesting college senior pitching prospects. He is highly competitive with tremendous baseball makeup and has won 17 games in his two seasons since transferring from junior college. Murray pitches from a low three-quarters slot and is a strike-throwing, groundball machine, with a mid- to upper 80s fastball and late-biting slider. He is 6-foot-2, 195 pounds and pounds the strike zone, having walked just 29 in 186 Division I innings.
Catcher Ryan Lipkin
earned a surprise spot on Team USA after his sophomore season to put himself on the map. Lipkin throws well, has leadership qualities, competes well, has strength with the bat and is good behind the plate. He struggled as a junior, hitting just .266, then bounced back with a solid senior season in 2010. Fellow senior Derek Poppert
, a shortstop, was a 28th-round pick by the Reds last year but came back to school to work on his defense and improve his draft stock. Poppert is a good athlete, with size, strength and ability. He has a chance to hit for average and has gap power. His defense has improved and he will have a chance to stay in the middle of the diamond. Five-foot-10 center fielder Pete Lavin is flying under the radar among Northern California prospects. Already 22, he's been a table-setter this season, with more walks than strikeouts. Some scouts consider him one of the top hitting prospects in the region thanks to a smooth lefthanded stroke and his excellent feel for the game. He runs average, has gap power and can play above-average defense. Lefthander Matt Lujan
didn't have the type of junior year many expected, but his pitching savvy, makeup and stuff are all good enough. Lujan is a 6-foot-1, 205-pounder with four quality pitches, including an upper-80s fastball, good cutter, above-average changeup and usable breaking ball.
UC Davis has struggled since its NCAA regional appearance in 2008, but will produce a few prospects this year. Righthander Matt Lewis
created buzz in the fall of his draft-eligible sophomore year, when he was up to 93 mph at scout day. He never did show that good stuff in the spring, so he went undrafted last year. The return of occasional mid-90s heat could allow him to sneak into the top 10 rounds, and he picked up seven saves as the Aggies' closer. He is an ideal 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, and his secondary stuff is a work in progress.
Redshirt junior infielder Justin Schafer
is an above-average runner with a chance to hit for average but with a little pop. He profiles as a utility player. His older brother Logan is an outfielder in the Brewers organization.
It was somewhat surprising that no one signed Santa Clara righthander Nathan Garcia
as a junior. He has been a weekend starter most of his college career, and scouts respect his bulldog attitude on the mound. He profiles as a reliever with his 87-90 mph fastball and feel for a big overhand curveball.
St. Mary's righthander Brandon Berl
should be a good senior sign, with a fastball in the 88-92 mph range with two good breaking pitches, which fits a bullpen profile. He is a strike thrower with good makeup. Righthander Alex Schmarzo
, the Gaels' closer, is not a slam dunk to be picked as a junior, but with an 88-91 mph fastball and changeup that is average at times he has a chance to develop in pro ball. Has some deception in the delivery but struggles to repeat it, and he'll have to develop a better breaking ball.
Scouts know that San Jose State produces players with strong makeup and good baseball aptitude. The Spartans' top prospect is righthander Blake McFarland
, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound specimen on the mound who throws strikes and generates lots of groundballs. His fastball sits 88-90 mph, touching 91, and he has feel of his secondary stuff. Center fielder Jason Martin
, just 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, fits San Jose State's grinder-with-aptitude prototype. He's an offensive igniter with above-average speed, occasional pop and the ability to be an above-average hitter who gets on base a lot. He is an excellent center fielder and could probably make the move to second base if needed.
Cal State East Bay righthander Paul Jinkens
is one of the more intriguing pitchers in the area. He is 6 feet and 195 pounds but touches 92 mph while pitching 88-91. He is around the plate with all his pitches and is competitive. His curveball and split both show potential.
Righthander Alex Pracher
stands out as the best draft-eligible Cardinal pitcher this year. He is capable of relieving but also has the repertoire and control to be a starter. He is a projectable 6-foot-3, 185-pounds, with a fastball in the upper 80s and strike-throwing ability with his secondary pitches.
Fresno State first baseman Jordan Ribera
is a big, strong, lefthanded power hitter and was tied for the Division I home run lead heading into the Western Athletic Conference tournament. He is a 6-foot, 220-pounder who doesn't get cheated on his swings. He is limited to first base defensively. Teammate Garrett Weber
was drafted by the Royals out of Clovis West High in 2007 and might have signed if not for a hand injury that summer. He moved on to Fresno CC and now Fresno State and has hit for average and occasional power. He's a 5-foot-10, 190-pound dirtbag who can also steal bases and flashes above-average defensive ability.
Santa Clara's Geoff Klein
is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound lefthanded-hitting catcher who has hit for average and shown a knack for driving in runs, while flashing power. His defense needs work but has improved since he stepped into a starter's role after an injury to Tommy Medica last spring.
Finding a talented senior with tools that profile well in the pro game is a valuable thing to a scout. Pacific third baseman Mike Walker
fits that description, as an athletic 6-foot-4, 215-pounder who can play the infield corners and possibly catch in pro ball. He has strength, fringe-average power, runs well and gets on base.
Stanford outfielder Kellen Kiilsgaard
had a good sophomore year (.313/.411/.527, 9 HR, 46 RBI) but slumped early and was sidelined after 24 at-bats by an elbow injury. [Edited]
Kiilsgaard is a big, physical lefthanded hitter with home run power and a chance to be an average left fielder. An organization will look to buy low on him.
Under The Radar Prospects
The Northern California junior college ranks are increasingly thin these days, so an athlete like center fielder Dayton Alexander
stands out like a sore thumb. He's a 6-foot-1, 185-pound switch-hitter who runs well and is a good outfielder. He has extra-base power, though his bat is a little raw. Alexander is a cousin of Shane Victorino.
Fresno CC first baseman David Rohm
is a talented and versatile late-round prospect. He is a strong, polished young hitter with a bat that will profile at first base, third base or as a corner outfielder. His father David pitched for two seasons in the Toronto organization. He hit .503, third in the state, with 21 doubles in his first 36 games.
Deer Valley High outfielder Brandon Williams
was flying under the radar because academic issues were keeping him off the field, but he has drawn scout interest, mostly at the school's practices. He is a talented and athletic 6-foot-2, 190-pounder who is both strong and fast. His athleticism projects in center field with a multi-tool offensive profile. He is an outstanding athlete and started a freshman on the varsity basketball team.
The last notable Contra Costa JC prospect was Corey Dunlap, a third-round pick of the Dodgers in 2004. Outfielder Javan Williams
has a chance to be the next Comet to get a shot at pro ball, though he is a later-round prospect. Williams is a lefthanded hitter with some tools and a legitimate chance to hit, and at 6-foot-2, 185-pounds he has size and strength.
Sierra JC righthander Justin Haley
was a largely unknown out of Bella Vista High in Fair Oaks, Calif., but at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds he sure is noticeable. He drew a lot of attention from D-I programs late in the spring, and scouts have peeked in as well. He has an average fastball that peaks around 93 mph, and as an 18-year-old freshman, he has plenty of development ahead of him.
Canada JC outfielder Daniel Johnston
is 6-foot-5, 200 pounds and scouts who like him see a fringe five-tool prospect. Johnston runs well, has a sound swing, throws well and projects to hit for both average and power. Among juco prospects, that profile stands out.
The Red Sox took lefthander Justin Parker
in the 25th round of the 2008 draft out of high school, but he went to Loyola Marymount instead before transferring to Cosumnes River JC. He is 6-foot-4, 235 pounds so scouts kept following him. Parker has been up to 90 mph this spring and went 5-1, 3.32 with 85 strikeouts in 65 innings, but the once-promising curveball he showed in high school has been below-average.
Sonoma State outfielder Tillman Pugh
transferred from Arizona State but got sidelined by academic issues this spring. He is a plus-plus runner with some power, and he is still unrefined in a way that suggests he still has a significant ceiling left to reach.
Lefthander Jordan Haseltine
has a pro body and when he is throwing well he looks like a top-10-round prospect. He's 6-foot-6, 225 pounds and pitches at 87-89 mph, touching 92 on occasion, with a good changeup. His curveball is inconsistent due to a herky-jerky, stiff arm action. He has committed to San Francisco.
Modesto JC righthander Vince Roberts
has committed to Long Beach State, where pitching coach (and next year's head coach) Troy Buckley is renowned for developing projectable pitchers into premium draft prospects. Roberts fits the mold. He pitches at 88-89 mph, touching 91, and has a nice slider. He doesn't have much mound time either.
Six-foot-2, 195-pound righthander Hunter Greenwood
got on the map during the Northern California scout team schedule last fall. He has been up to 92 mph and has a strong, durable build. His secondary stuff is unrefined and he would be more attractive as a summer follow. He has committed to Sacramento State.
Lefthander Ben Griset
is an interesting prospect in the Central Valley, at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds with one of the better curveballs in the state. He has a high overhand slot and a quick arm. His fastball is 86-88 mph, but it is the steep, tight spinning, hard biting curveball that has scouts on him. He has committed to St. Mary's.
Sierra JC catcher Michael Quesada
was considered a draftable prospect out of high school back in 2008 but decided to attend Arizona. Now draft-eligible again, Quesada will likely get a shot to sign. He is a defense-first catcher with good catch and throw skills and has flashed enough ability with the bat to think he can be at least a fair hitter.
is a lefthanded-hitting second baseman from Canada JC and is one of the better hitters in Northern California at any level. He is 5-foot-8, 175-pounds. He is a contact, high average hitter with some extra-base pop and the ability to get on base and steal an occasional base. Defensively he profiles only at second base.
Marin CC has some late-round interest in 6-foot-8 righthander Michael Lopez
, whose lanky frame needs some muscle to sustain his 88-91 mph fastball velocity, and Dominican-born outfielder Abel Gonzalez
, who has posted some 3.9-second times to first base from the left side.
See also: California Scouting Reports Part I