State Report: Nevada

Silver State could get its first No. 1






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
Scouts struck gold in the Silver State this spring. Nevada has never produced a No. 1 overall pick—nor has the first overall pick ever come from a junior college—but that should change this year with Bryce Harper.

The growth of Las Vegas in recent years has made Nevada's high schools more productive, and Harper brought the spotlight on a lot of other players in the area—particularly his teammates. Nevada could have as many as 10 players drafted in single-digit rounds.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Bryce Harper, c, JC of Southern Nevada (National Rank: 1)
2. Kris Bryant, 3b, Bonanza HS, Las Vegas (National Rank: 53)
3. Donn Roach, rhp, JC of Southern Nevada (National Rank: 137)
4. Nick Kingham, rhp, Sierra Vista HS, Las Vegas (National Rank: 186)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

5. Drew Robinson, of, Silverado HS
6. Bryan Harper, lhp, JC of Southern Nevada
7. Joe Robinson, rhp, JC of Southern Nevada
8. Mike Wagner, rhp, Centennial HS, Las Vegas
9. Tyler Hanks, rhp, JC of Southern Nevada
10. Aaron Kurcz, rhp, JC of Southern Nevada
11. Brian Pointer, of, Galena HS, Reno
12. Aaron Blair, rhp/3b, Spring Valley HS, Las Vegas
13. Patrick Gallagher, 1b, Reno HS
14. Johnny Field, 2b, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas
15. Kenny McDowall, rhp, JC of Southern Nevada
16. Drew Beuerlein, c, Nevada-Las Vegas
17. Chris Garcia, lhp, Nevada
18. Kevin Rodland, ss, Nevada
19. Chasen Shreve, lhp, JC of Southern Nevada
20. Westley Moss, of, Nevada
21. Jeremy Gendlek, rhp, Western Nevada
22.  Dillon Meyer, of, Palo Verde HS, Las Vegas

SCOUTING REPORTS

Bryce Harper, c
JC of Southern Nevada

After Harper skipped out on his final two years of high school to enroll in a wood-bat junior college league, even his biggest supporters probably would have underestimated how he would perform this season. Over his 180 regular-season at-bats, the 17-year-old hit .417/.509/.917. The school record for home runs was 12, set when the school still used aluminum bats. Harper finished with 23. He has top-of-the-scale power, but scouts have differing opinions about what kind of hitter he'll be. Some believe his exaggerated load and ferocious swings will cause him to strike out 125-140 times a season and keep his average around .250. Others believe in his exceptional hand-eye coordination and expect him to calm down his swing in pro ball, figuring .280-.300 isn't out of the question. Harper also has 80 raw arm strength on the 20-80 scouting scale, but he needs to shorten up his arm action for it to play better behind the plate. Scouts are also split on where he'll end up defensively. Some believe he'll be fine at catcher. Others think he will either outgrow the position or that his bat will be too good to hold back, so a team will want to move him to the position that gets him to the big leagues the fastest—either third base or right field. Harper has done some incredible things on a baseball field, like hitting 500-foot home runs, throwing runners out at first from the outfield, and scoring from second base on a passed ball. He's received more attention and unfounded criticism than any amateur player in years. Perhaps the biggest question now is: Is it possible for him to live up to the hype? He's seeking to break Stephen Strasburg's record bonus, and that certainly won't reduce the hype or the pressure.

Kris Bryant, 3b
Bonanza HS, Las Vegas

Bryant entered the summer with lofty expectations, but he often looked overmatched at the plate during the showcase circuit last summer. When he's on, he's a treat to watch. He has a lean, 6-foot-5, 195-pound frame and light-tower power that draws comparisons to a young Troy Glaus. The power, however, mostly shows up during batting practice or when he has a metal bat in his hands. There are a lot of moving parts to his swing and he has trouble barreling balls up with wood, so how much usable power he ends up having is a big question. He has a long, loopy swing and he never changes his approach when he's struggling. He's athletic for a big guy and may be able to handle third base. He has the arm for it, and some scouts said they wouldn't be shocked if he eventually ended up on the mound. Some scouts love Bryant's power enough to take him in the back half of the first round, while others turned him in as a token gesture and have little interest in him—especially for the price it will take to lure him away from his San Diego commitment.

Donn Roach, rhp
JC of Southern Nevada

Roach won three state championships at Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas and was a 40th-round pick out of high school by the Angels in 2008, but he didn't sign and headed to Arizona, where he went 1-4, 7.84 with 22 strikeouts and 22 walks over 41 innings as a freshman. He transferred to Southern Nevada this year to play with Bryan and Bryce Harper, whom he's known since he was 10 years old. His fastball regained the giddy-up it had in high school, getting back up to 90-94 mph and touching 95. It's a big leap from the 86-88 mph he showed at Arizona. Roach credits the boost to getting back to a lower arm slot that he had in high school. He also scrapped his splitter for a curveball that shows flashes of being an above-average pitch. Roach doesn't have much projection remaining. Coupled with the uncertainty of what version of Roach teams will be getting, he'll be a bit of a wild card on draft day. If he can maintain his current stuff, he could be a good middle-of-the-rotation starter or a set-up man.

Nick Kingham, rhp
Sierra Vista HS, Las Vegas

Four Corners scouts compare Kingham to Kevin Walter in that he's a physical righthander who came into the season with less attention than Kevin Gausman, but may end up as the better pitcher. Kingham is 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds but has a solid, athletic frame, a smooth delivery and a clean arm action. He had to sit out his junior year after transferring to Sierra Vista from Calvary Chappel, but Kingham has improved every year, which scouts like to see. Kingham's fastball is in the 90-93 mph range with good life. His changeup is his second-best pitch and it's a solid-average offering. His curveball is below-average now and needs to be tightened up. He profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher, but scouts love his frame and think one day he'll be able to handle a 200-inning workload. As one of the last additions to Oregon's outstanding recruiting class, Kingham may be too good for pro scouts to pass up and could go as high as the second round.

Plenty Of Talent At Southern Nevada

Thanks to Bryce Harper, there was a lot of attention on the JC of Southern Nevada pitching staff, which had a 3.23 team ERA with 592 strikeouts and 171 walks over 485 innings heading into the final week of the season. Scouts have expressed skepticism about the pitchers' performance this year, especially after most of them didn't pitch last summer, and aren't sure it will carry over to pro ball. The program is still building a track record, having just been established in 2000. The only player signed out of Southern Nevada who has pitched in the big leagues so far is Braves righthander Mike Dunn, who pitched in four games for the Yankees last year. And he was drafted and played one minor league season as a first baseman.

The most well-known player of the group may be lefthander Bryan Harper, who will probably always be known as Bryce's brother. He had a forgettable freshman season at Cal State Northridge in 2009, going 0-4, 6.68 with 15 strikeouts and 22 walks over 32 innings. He showed a jump in his velocity this season, sitting at 88-91 mph and dialing it up to 93-94 on occasion. He has a 6-foot-5, 195-pound frame, but doesn't always use his height to his advantage. He worked hard to have better body control with his delivery and the results have shown up with better command. Like his brother, he's a fiery competitor. Harper profiles as a 6th-10th-round talent, but could be taken higher by the Nationals, who may want to keep the two together. He will almost certainly bypass his commitment to South Carolina to go pro.

Tyler Hanks came into fall ball looking like an NFL strong safety. He was mostly a shortstop in high school and focused on pitching only recently, but he was 94-96 mph as a closer and touched 97. He moved between the closer's role and the rotation, and his stuff dropped off as the year progressed. As a starter he pitches more at 90-92 mph. Hanks has scrapped a loopy curveball for a slider, which goes better with his arm slot, and he sometimes throws that pitch in the 85-86 mph range. He's committed to Oklahoma State.

Righthander Joe Robinson pitched mostly around 84-86 mph for the powerhouse Green Valley HS program in suburban Las Vegas, and Southern Nevada took a flier on him because a member of the coaching staff coached him in American Legion ball. Robinson ended up leading the team with a 1.99 ERA last year as a freshman. This year he has mostly been in the 89-91 mph range and has touched 95. He throws a slider and a changeup, and he mixes and locates all three pitches well. When he stays in his three-quarters arm slot, his pitches are good, but when his slot gets too high his pitches tend to flatten out. Robinson is committed to Georgia.

Righthander Aaron Kurcz came to Southern Nevada from Air Force. He's not big, standing 6 feet and 175 pounds, but has consistently pitched with good velocity. He sits 92-94 mph with a slurvy breaking ball that has some bite to it. If he doesn't sign, he'll head to Oral Roberts. Righthander Kenny McDowall has been up and down, both in velocity and results. He is committed to Hawaii. Lefthander Chasen Shreve was in the mid-80s last year and up to 91 this year, but he also battled arm injuries.

The only notable four-year prospects were at Nevada, where lefthander Chris Garcia pitches in 87-89 mph range with a good curveball and decent changeup. He needs to throw more strikes so he can pitch deeper into games. Center fielder Westley Moss is an above-average runner and plays a good center field, but has a weak bat. Shortstop Kevin Rodland has improved every year. He has an athletic frame, plays solid defense, but is light with the bat, too.

Several High Schoolers Stand Out In Sin City

Drew Robinson has the best swing in the area—the prototypical lefthanded stroke—and scouts liked him more than any of the hitters in the Four Corners, outside of Bryce Harper. He's 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds and his brother Chad is a pitcher in the Brewers system. Robinson's swing is smooth and easy and got a Mark Grace comparison. He has an upright stance and strides into the ball, so his head drops a little, but he has looseness in his swing and strong hands. He's more of a gap-to-gap hitter than a pure power hitter. A high school shortstop, he'll probably have to move to the outfield. He ran a decent 60-yard dash last summer but is now regarded as a below-average runner after knee surgery, a pulled hamstring that kept him out of the Area Code Games, and a sore back earlier this spring. He has the above-average arm for right field. The Orioles have been the team most connected to Robinson and could take him in the third round. He'll likely sign, and if he doesn't he's committed to Nebraska.

Righthander Mike Wagner has progressed nicely over the past year, and his best pitching is still ahead of him. Last summer he was 85-88 mph and he was mostly 89-92 this year. His breaking ball is improving and he'll mix in an occasional changeup. Wagner has a good pitcher's frame at 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds. He is expected to be a tough sign away from San Diego.

Outfielder Brian Pointer is the best prospect north of Las Vegas. He has a muscular, 6-foot, 190-pound frame and plays the game hard. He bats and throws lefthanded, with a quiet set-up and a smooth swing with loft. He has strength and bat speed, so he projects to hit for power. He could be a single-digit pick and is committed to Oregon State.

Outfielder Dillon Meyer bats and throws righthanded with a compact, athletic body. His best tool is his above-average speed, as he ran a 6.63-second 60-yard dash at a Four Corners showcase over the winter. He is committed to Salt Lake CC.

Patrick Gallagher is a strong 6-foot-2, 210-pound first baseman from Reno that bats lefthanded. He has strength to his swing and is committed to UCLA.