State Report: Upper Rockies

Rare find in Wyoming




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THIS YEAR'S CROP
***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
Rating compares this year's group to what a state typically produces, not to other states
The Upper Rockies are typically dominated by Idaho, with Wyoming and Montana being afterthoughts. This year is an exception, though, with Wyoming actually offering a potential first-round pick, and a couple of interesting prep players popping up in Montana. Since the 2007 draft, when Lewis-Clark State first baseman Beau Mills went 13th overall to the Indians, the region hasn't had anyone in the top 200 picks—and Wyoming hasn't had anyone drafted at all. Premium athlete Brandon Nimmo should change that, and he alone could almost make this a five-star year.

This group would have been even better if Idaho high school lefthander Porter Clayton hadn't graduated early to enroll at Oregon, but it's plenty good enough as it is.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Brandon Nimmo, of, East HS, Cheyenne, Wyo. (National Rank: 37)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

2. Ben Roberts, of, Sentinel HS, Missoula, Mont.
3. Zach Arneson, rhp, Lewis-Clark (Idaho) State
4. Cy Sneed, rhp, Twin Falls (Idaho) HS
5. Izaac Garsez, of, College of Idaho
6. Rodee Anderson, ss, Corvallis HS, Hamilton, Mont.
7. Travis Huber, rhp, JC of Southern Idaho
8. Parker Morin, c, JC of Southern Idaho
9. Tyler Barrett, lhp, Lewis-Clark (Idaho) State
10. Tanner Renner, of, East HS, Cheyenne, Wyo.

SCOUTING REPORTS

Brandon Nimmo, of
East HS, Cheyenne, Wyo.

Simply getting drafted out of Wyoming is an accomplishment in itself—the state does not have high school baseball and has produced just two draft picks the past decade. Nimmo should become the state's highest pick ever. With a lean, 6-foot-3 frame with projection remaining, he's a good athlete and one of the best sprinters in the state. He tore his right ACL playing football during his junior year in 2009 and spent most of last summer playing with a brace on his knee. He's an above-average runner when he's healthy, which helps him on the basepaths and in center field, and there's more to his game than just speed. Nimmo has a pretty, efficient lefthanded swing. He's short to the ball and has outstanding barrel awareness, consistently squaring balls up and shooting line drives to all fields. He has a good eye at the plate and should be an above-average hitter. As he gets stronger, he could add loft to his swing to turn doubles into home runs. Nimmo worked out for teams in Arizona this spring and had some tendinitis in his knee. His American Legion team started playing in mid-April, and its schedule goes right up to the signing deadline, and he has an Arkansas commitment to fall back on. The team that drafts Nimmo will likely follow him throughout the summer and make a call at the deadline.

Big Fish, Small Ponds

Like Nimmo, outfielder Ben Roberts' high school doesn't play baseball. And like Nimmo, he's a big fish in a tiny pond, so just the fact that he's from Montana has helped add to his hype. He was generating late interest with predraft workouts and could go as high as the fifth round. He's a three-sport athlete who plays wide receiver and had football scholarship offers from Boise State and other schools on the West Coast. He also plays basketball, where he has no problem throwing down dunks. He stands out physically with his chiseled, 6-foot-4, 200-pound physique, though his athleticism doesn't show up on the baseball field yet. Roberts has average bat speed and raw power now, but scouts can dream on his tools and what he could do with better coaching when he focuses his attention on one sport. He's a fringe-average runner, and his arm is below-average, so he's likely destined for left field, in which case the bat really has to play. Roberts has faced as little quality pitching as any player in the draft, so he'll have a steep learning curve, whether that's in pro ball or at Washington State.

It's an unusually good year in Montana, with shortstop Rodee Anderson also generating interest. He has a nice pro frame and a good glove, but he's a below-average runner and has a long swing without a lot of strength behind it. He was committed to Oregon State but will instead head to JC of Southern Nevada.

In Idaho, Lewis-Clark State is prominent, as always. Righthander Zach Arneson transferred in from Cal State Bakersfield after the Giants made him a 21st-round pick last year. His brother Jamie played in the Reds system for three seasons. Arneson, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior, spent most of the season in the bullpen and sat in the 92-94 mph range, topping out at 96. He'll remain in the bullpen as a pro, as his arm action is a little stiff and his secondary stuff—a mid-80s cutter that he commands well—is fringy.

Izaac Garsez showed promise as a lefthander by throwing 90-92 mph with a sharp curveball, but persistent biceps problems caused scouts' interest to fade. Luckily for him, he's a good athlete at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds and he's now getting looks as a right fielder. He's a little raw in the field and needs to work on his pitch recognition, but Garsez is an above-average runner who shows potential from the left side of the plate. He was the NAIA West player of the year after hitting .344/.437/.624 with nine triples, eight home runs and 31 stolen bases in 38 attempts.

Two players stood out at JC of Southern Idaho: righthander Travis Huber and catcher Parker Morin. Huber was a 47th-round draft pick by the Marlins last year, when he was sitting 91-93 mph out of the bullpen. He moved into the rotation this year and was down to 88-90, but he can spin a tight curveball and has a hard slider he uses as an out pitch. He'll likely return to the bullpen as a pro. If he doesn't sign, he is committed to Nebraska.

Morin worked hard in the offseason to tighten up his body, and he now has a solid frame at 6 feet and 210 pounds. He's a quality receiver with an average arm and quick feet. Morin might struggle with the bat in pro ball right now, but a team might give him a chance because of his skills behind the plate. He is committed to Utah.

High school righthander Cy Sneed has a tall, slender frame and has been mostly in the 86-89 mph range this spring. He just doesn't have a lot of strength yet, so he'll likely wind up at Dallas Baptist. A team that likes his arm speed and projection, however, might try to bring him in now. His older brother Zeb has been up to 95 mph this year as a sophomore at Northwest Nazarene in Idaho and should be a draft prospect next year.