State Report: Kansas

Solid year for Sunflower 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
Blue Valley High righthander Ryne Stanek reached his projection earlier than anyone expected, and he towers over the rest of the state's prospects. He passed Blue Valley Northwest High righty Jason Adam, who might have joined Stanek in the first three rounds if not for a final-month fade. A year after all three of the state's Division I programs made the NCAA playoffs, only Kansas State returned to the regionals, symbolic of a lackluster college crop headline by polished Wichita State righthander Jordan Cooper.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Ryne Stanek, rhp, Blue Valley HS, Stilwell (National Rank: 42)
2. Jason Adam, rhp, Blue Valley Northwest HS, Overland Park (National Rank: 54)
3. Jordan Cooper, rhp, Wichita State (National Rank: 122)
4. Tony Thompson, 3b, Kansas (National Rank: 129)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

5. T.J. Walz, rhp, Kansas
6. Carter Jurica, ss, Kansas State
7. Johnny Coy, 1b, Wichita State
8. Levi Schlick, lhp, Barton County CC
9. Hector Acosta, c/of, Coffeyville CC
10. Brian Heere, of, Kansas
11. Albert Minnis, lhp, Lawrence HS
12. Shawn Lewick, lhp, Hutchinson CC
13. Robby Price, 2b, Kansas
14. Kelby Tomlinson, ss, Seward County CC
15. Jeff Soptic, rhp, Johnson County CC
16. Ryan Jones, of, Wichita State
17. Bob Arens, c, Wichita Northwest HS
18. Cameron Selik, rhp, Kansas
19. Jamell Cervantez, of, Hutchinson CC
20. Kyle Hunter, lhp, Kansas State

SCOUTING REPORTS

Ryne Stanek, rhp

Blue Valley HS, Stilwell


When scouts saw Stanek's 6-foot-4, 180 pound build and his ability to maintain a 90-92 mph fastball on the showcase circuit last summer, it was easy for them to project that he might throw in the mid-90s one day. That day came sooner than expected, as Stanek worked at 91-96 mph in his first game this spring. He has kept that velocity all spring, doing so with little effort. His delivery is fairly sound, though he does throw slightly across his body. His curveball is crisp and has two-plane break, giving him a second future plus pitch. He also throws a slider and changeup. Stanek is one of the cornerstones of a deep Arkansas recruiting class, but his step forward this spring means he'll likely bypass college.

Jason Adam, rhp

Blue Valley Northwest HS, Overland Park


Adam began the year as the highest-rated pitching prospect in Kansas. Though Ryne Stanek has since surpassed him, Adam pitched well enough at the start of the season that the state might have had two high school pitchers drafted in the first three rounds for the first time ever. Early in the spring, he had a low-90s fastball that topped out at 95 and also spun a good curveball. His stuff tailed off, however, making it more likely that he'd follow through on a strong commitment to Missouri. Adam's changeup shows enough promise that he eventually could have three average-or-better pitches with good control. At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, he's more physical than Stanek, and he also repeats his delivery more consistently.

Jordan Cooper, rhp

Wichita State


Cooper was as hot as any college pitcher in May. He struck out 14 in a complete-game shutout of Missouri State and set a Wichita State record with a 32 1/3-inning scoreless streak. He ranked as the top high school prospect in Kansas two years ago, and though he has grown an inch and added 25 pounds since then, the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder still stands out more for his polish and feel than for his overpowering stuff. He gets outs with an 89-91 mph sinker, tight slider and good changeup. He's athletic, repeats his delivery easily and fills the strike zone. Cooper could have been a fourth- or fifth-round pick out of high school had he been signable in that range, and should go a round or two higher this year as a draft-eligible sophomore.

Tony Thompson, 3b

Kansas


Thompson won the first triple crown in Big 12 Conference history a year ago, batting .389 with 21 homers and 82 RBIs. Hopes for an encore were dashed when he fouled a ball off his left kneecap in a February practice, sidelining him for the first 19 games of the season with a hairline fracture. He was overanxious when he returned, chasing too many pitches, but started to look more like himself toward the end of the season. Huge and strong at 6-foot-4 and 219 pounds, Thompson generates easy power to all fields. His swing can get long at times, but he doesn't strike out excessively like many sluggers do. Thompson's speed and mobility were below-average before he got hurt. While he has the arm strength to play third base, his range and agility are substandard. His fielding percentage this spring was just .888, a further indication he's destined for first base as a pro. His bat should play well enough there for him to get drafted in the first five rounds.

Walz Sends Mixed Messages

At times, T.J. Walz will flash a 91-94 mph fastball and a plus breaking ball, and he has won eight games in each of the last two seasons for Kansas. But the 6-foot, 175-pound righthander also confounds scouts, because there are games where he works at 88-91 mph and he has more of a slurve. His stuff, ability to throw strikes and his competitiveness earned him a spot on Team USA last summer, yet he was telling teams he plans on returning for his senior season.

Carter Jurica, who could go in the seventh to 10th round, is the best 2010 prospect on the state's lone NCAA regional team. He's a 5-foot-11, 185-pounder with solid if not spectacular all-around tools. He has a sound righthanded stroke with some pop, good plate discipline and slightly above-average speed. He gets the job done as a college shortstop, but his range and arm may be better suited for second base or a utility role in pro ball.

First baseman Johnny Coy is a rare draft-eligible freshman. He attended Arizona State on a basketball scholarship and didn't play baseball a year ago, and he'll turn 21 within 45 days of the draft. His skills and physique still need more development, but someone may take a flier on the righthanded power potential in his 6-foot-8, 204-pound frame. He often looked overmatched early in the season, but he made enough progress to claim a regular job in the second half. He runs well for his size, but his defense needs a lot of work. The Phillies drafted him in the seventh round two years ago.

There are several Kansas junior college players who could fit in the first 15 rounds. Freshman Levi Schlick is an athletic 6-foot-6 lefthander who reaches the low 90s with his fastball and can command his slider to both sides of the plate. Hector Acosta is an athletic catcher with gap power, solid speed (he stole 38 bases) and arm strength. Lefty Shawn Lewick pitched Hutchinson to the Junior College World Series, showing good feel for his high-80s sinker and an 11-to-5 curveball. If they don't turn pro, Acosta will attend Arkansas-Little Rock and Lewick will pitch at Kansas State in 2011.

Kansas' Brian Heere and Robby Price are undersized, blue-collar players whose drive could help them overachieve in pro ball. Heere, a redshirt junior who turned down the Red Sox as a 48th-round pick a year ago, uses his plus speed to get on base and go get balls in center field. He doesn't have a lot of power or arm strength.

Price, whose father Ritch coachs the Jayhawks, has similar tools to Heere except for his speed. He has outstanding plate discipline and a line-drive approach with a little pop. He has soft hands and turns the double play well at second base.

Kansas righthander Bretty Bochy would have been one of the top picks in the state had he not blown out his elbow and had Tommy John surgery in early April. Before he got hurt, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound redshirt junior was dominating hitters with his 91-93 mph fastball and his slider. He's the son of former big leaguer and current Giants manager Bruce Bochy.