State Report: Washington

Not as much star power, but good depth




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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
Washington produced half as many players in the Top 200 last year, but it was quality over quantity, as outfielders Josh Sale and Drew Vettleson ranked 10th and 45th on BA's Top 200. The state has a good depth of pitchers this year, with Washington State's Adam Conley leading the way, but none are threats to go in the first round.

Washington (6-21 in conference play) and Washington State (10-17) brought up the rear in the Pacific-10 Conference standings this year, and most of the talent in the state is concentrated in the high schools and small colleges.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Adam Conley, lhp, Washington State (National Rank: 69)
2. Jeff Ames, rhp, Lower Columbia JC (National Rank: 119)
3. Kody Watts, rhp, Skyview HS, Vancouver (National Rank: 139)
4. Cody Hebner, rhp, Green River CC (National Rank: 179)
5. Blake Snell, lhp, Shorewood HS, Shoreline (National Rank: 184)
6. Cole Wiper, rhp, Newport HS, Bellevue (National Rank: 192)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

7. Ryan Carpenter, lhp, Gonzaga
8. Dylan Davis, rhp, Redmond HS
9. Cody Martin, rhp, Gonzaga
10. Michael Conforto, of, Redmond HS
11. Taylor Ard, 1b, Washington State
12. Derek Jones, of, Washington State
13. Robert Pehl, 3b, West HS, Chehalis
14. Erik Forgione, ss, West HS, Chehalis
15. Austin Jones, 1b, Edmonds-Woodway HS
16. Adrian Sampson, rhp, Bellevue JC
17. Taylor Brennan, 2b, Edmonds CC
18. Spencer O'Neil, of, Southridge HS, Kennewick
19. Kevin Moriarty, rhp, Shorewood HS, Shoreline
20. Royce Bollinger, of, Gonzaga
21. Jared Fisher, rhp, Newport HS, Bellevue
22. Tyler Cox, c, Bellevue JC
23. Trevor Mitsui, 1b, Shorewood HS, Shoreline
24. Matt Argyropoulos, 2b, Washington State
25. Bobby LaCount, 3b, Edmonds CC
26. Jose Sermo, of, Yakima Valley CC
27. Andy Smith, of, Bellevue JC
28. Roemon Fields, of, Yakima Valley CC
29. Ricky Holm, lhp, Everett CC
30. Andrew Kittredge, rhp, Washington

SCOUTING REPORTS

Adam Conley, lhp
Washington State

Conley moved from Washington State's closer role last year to the Friday night starter this year. He has an aggressive, almost Dontrelle Willis-like delivery. His fastball typically sits in the 88-93 mph range, but he can touch 95 and has been as high as 97 when he was used in relief as a sophomore. His two-seam fastball has heavy sink and his changeup has good fade. He throws a slider, but it has a long way to go. It has rolling action instead of sharp snap and he mostly relies on locating his fastball, changing speeds and inducing weak contact. With his peerless work ethic and outstanding makeup, Conley has embraced a leadership role this year. Still, evaluators are split on his future role. Some believe his lack of a breaking ball will limit him to a bullpen role. Supporters say the sink on his fastball, the confidence in his changeup and his strong work ethic will allow him to remain as a starter as his breaking ball develops.

Jeff Ames, rhp
Lower Columbia JC

Ames has already been drafted twice: by the Phillies (46th round) in 2009 out of high school in Vancouver, Wash., and last year by the Rockies (30th round) out of Lower Columbia. His stuff has gradually improved each year, and he took things up a notch last summer, sitting 92-95 mph and touching 97 in the West Coast League, ranking as the league's No. 3 prospect. His stuff has held up this spring, as his fastball has been consistently in the mid-90s. His fastball has nasty, riding life and arm-side run. His breaking ball doesn't always show the tight break scouts like to see, his changeup is just all right, and he does pitch with some effort, but he should go high enough this year to keep him away from his commitment to Oregon.

Kody Watts, rhp
Skyview HS, Vancouver

Watts flew under the radar because he didn't make the Northwest Area Code Games team and isn't from the Seattle area, where most of the talent in the state is concentrated. He has a nice, athletic build at 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds with projection remaining. His fastball sits in the 89-93 mph range, and he can run it up to 95. Watts throws a good, hard curveball, a slider that is just adequate and a splitter with a chance to be an above-average pitch. Watts can command the splitter, but he'll need to make sure there's enough separation in his arsenal because now everything is hard. Watts has the most upside of any high school pitcher in the Northwest, but he may not be a premium pick because he has expressed a strong interest in college. Watts comes from an affluent family and is a premium recruit for Portland, where he should be a good pick three years from now.

Cody Hebner, rhp
Green River CC

Although he didn't go to the same school as Tim Lincecum, Hebner's high school coach in Washington was Glen Walker, who also coached Lincecum. Hebner was mainly a shortstop in high school, but he has been electric on the mound for Green River. Like Lincecum, Hebner is undersized at 6 feet and 160 pounds. He doesn't have a delivery like Lincecum's, though it is unorthodox as he brings his knee up to the brim of his cap at his balance point. Hebner has incredible arm speed and has hit 97 mph this year, though he's more typically in the 90-94 range. He has been better than he was last year and put up great numbers, but pitch consistency has been an issue for Hebner. His slider does show flashes of being an above-average pitch, as does his changeup. Scouts believe he has a chance to start because of his athleticism, the movement on his fastball, his relatively fresh arm and the potential for three plus pitches. Hebner turned down a chance to pitch for Coastal Carolina this year and returned to Green River. If he doesn't sign, he will go to Arizona State.

Blake Snell, lhp
Shorewood HS, Shoreline

Snell is a long and lean 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, but he has narrow, sloping shoulders and may always be skinny, and scouts don't see anywhere to put a lot of added weight on his frame. His fastball sits between 88-92 mph, and he has touched 94 this season. While that grades out as an average fastball, scouts question whether he'll be able to maintain that velocity over a full minor league season because of his frame. His curveball and changeup are just average at best. Snell has performed well this season and wasn't fazed when there were 40-50 scouts behind the backstop. Snell was home schooled until this year and was committed to Washington's banner class, but he has not yet qualified academically, which may make him more signable. Because of his signability, his velocity and how well he has performed in front of crosscheckers, Snell could get popped as high as the supplemental first round, though on pure talent he would probably go a few rounds later.

Cole Wiper, rhp
Newport HS, Bellevue

At 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, Wiper is a quality athlete who also played high school basketball. His best attribute as a pitcher is his secondary stuff. He flashes an above-average curveball with tight rotation and added a slider this year, which also showed hard, sharp break. His changeup has nice drop, almost like a splitter, and has improved throughout the season. His fastball sits in the 88-90 mph range, and he'll have games where he's 90-93. While Wiper has a feel for spin, his fastball is pretty straight right now. Because of his good secondary stuff, he sometimes uses it too much and will have to pitch off of his fastball more at the next level, whether that's in the pros or at Oregon. Wiper is a good student and is mature for a high schooler, and some scouts regard him as the best high school prospect in the Northwest.

More Questions Than Answers

Gonzaga lefthander Ryan Carpenter has been an enigma for scouts. He's 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds and has touched 97 mph in the past, though he has been around 89-92 early in starts this year and even as low as 84. He had mediocre results his first two years at Gonzaga, though he was always impressive in summer ball against wood bats. In 2009, he led the Alaska League in strikeouts, and he came within five whiffs of leading the Cape Cod League last year. His time in the Cape helped him trust his fastball more, and he's working off it primarily for the first time this year. Statistically, Carpenter had his best year by far, going 8-2, 2.62 even though his stuff has been down. Carpenter also throws a big curveball, a slider that shows flashes of being a plus pitch and a changeup. The team that drafts Carpenter will be hoping that his size and relative youth will allow the stuff they've seen in the past to come back.

Righthander Cody Martin was a 20th-round pick by the Twins last year as a junior, but he returned to school and significantly raised his stock. He moved to the bullpen this year and showed a 90-94 mph fastball and a mid-80s slider, compiling a 0.86 ERA in 25 appearances. Martin has a durable, 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame and mixes in a quality curveball and changeup, so he may get a chance to start again as a pro.

Washington State had a couple of thumpers in the middle of its order who are generating interest and should benefit from the dearth of hitters in the Northwest this year: first baseman Taylor Ard and outfielder Derek Jones. Ard has a long track record of mashing with wood, first at Mount Hood (Ore.) CC, then in the West Coast League two summers ago. Last summer, Ard was solid for Brewster in the Cape Cod League and he'll return there this summer if he doesn't sign right away. He has tremendous strength at the plate and has a knack for squaring balls up and not striking out a lot. On the downside, he's a righthanded hitter who is limited to first base. He's a well below-average runner who will need to watch his body so that his 6-foot-1, 228-pound frame doesn't get too soft.

Jones has good bat speed and a nice swing from the left side that produces above-average raw power. He has a 6-foot, 207-pound frame and has to play left field because he's an average runner with fringy arm strength. He didn't hit too well on the Cape last summer, and the knock on him this spring was that his power is mostly to his pull side and he racks up strikeouts on soft stuff away.

Taylor Brennan was drafted in the 29th round by the Angels last year out of high school but chose not to sign. Originally headed for Lewis-Clark State in Idaho, Brennan opted to remain closer to home (and make himself draft-eligible again) at Edmonds CC. Scouts liked Brennan more when he had a looser body and could play shortstop, but he has added 20 pounds of muscle to his frame in recent years and now is at second base. The bulk has hurt more than it helped. Brennan lost agility in the field, tightened up at the plate and is now a below-average runner.

Righthander Andrew Kittredge was slated to be Washington's Friday starter this season, but he was academically ineligible. He had been throwing bullpen sessions for a few teams and will head to Lewis-Clark State next year if he isn't drafted.

Tandem Teammates

Righthander Dylan Davis and outfielder Michael Conforto didn't win many fans with scouts this year, as the Redmond High teammates were inconsistent and acted as though they'll be content to head to Oregon State together. Davis has a compact 6-foot, 200-pound frame that offers little projection. His fastball sits in the 91-93 mph range with a lot of armside run. He threw a slider on the showcase circuit last summer, then started throwing a curveball more this spring. Davis also throws a changeup, but doesn't use it much against high school hitters. He's deliberate with his delivery and lands on his heel, making it difficult for him to hold runners and throw consistent strikes. He also shows too much emotion on the mound. He's a two-way player in high school and would do the same in college, and some scouts actually prefer him as a hitter. Conforto is a quality athlete who was the Mustangs' quarterback in the fall and shortstop in the spring, though he'll be a corner outfielder or even a first baseman in pro ball. He has power potential from a big, uppercut swing, and he's a below-average runner with fringy arm strength.

Davis and Conforto aren't the only high-profile prep teammates in the Evergreen State. Blake Snell has two teammates who also will likely wind up in college but show potential: righthander Kevin Moriarty and first baseman Trevor Mitsui. Moriarty's father Todd played professionally, spending two seasons in the Giants system. Moriarty has intriguing size at 6-foot-5 and 170 pounds, but he's more about projection than present stuff and will be tough to pry away from his Gonzaga commitment. Mitsui put up great numbers this year (.712/.845/1.635) and has bat speed, but his tools don't match the statistics. He's sometimes too passive at the plate and is limited to first base, where he's a below-average defender with a below-average arm. He will likely wind up at Washington.

West High has two more UW commits—it's a banner class for the Huskies—in third baseman Robert Pehl and shortstop Erik Forgione. While Pehl plays third base in high school, he's likely a right fielder at the next level. He has a strong arm and has been up to 91 mph off the mound. Pehl has a compact swing and keeps his hands inside the ball well. If everything clicks, he could be an above-average hitter with power to all fields. Forgione has a lean, 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame. He's a below-average runner but moves well at shortstop and has a chance to start there for the Huskies next year. He is learning to switch-hit but is light with the bat and needs to add strength.