State Report: New Mexico

Not a lot, but Blake Swihart is enough




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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
Just five players have ever been first-round picks out of New Mexico, and it hasn't happened since high school third baseman Shane Andrews went 11th overall to the Expos in 1990. The state has another legitimate first-round talent in catcher Blake Swihart this year, though signability could push him out of a crowded first round.

New Mexico went 20-39 this year but still made a regional after winning the Mountain West Conference tournament. The team is young and doesn't have any draft prospects for this year, however, and there isn't much depth in the state after Swihart. But as was the case with Utah, the presence of a potential first-rounder in a state where that's rare makes it an exceptional year.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Blake Swihart, c, Cleveland HS, Rio Rancho (National Rank: 17)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

2. Devon Conley, of, New Mexico JC
3. Iseha Conklin, rhp, Silver HS, Silver City
4. Ryan Padilla, lhp/of, La Cueva HS

SCOUTING REPORTS

Blake Swihart, c
Cleveland HS, Rio Rancho

Swihart spent most of last summer with Team USA, and he led the team by batting .448/.492/.845 with six doubles and five home runs. The natural righthander picked up switch-hitting during his sophomore year of high school and started catching seriously just last summer. This spring he has split time between third base and behind the plate. Swihart is a good athlete who is an above-average hitter with average power potential. He hadn't put up gaudy numbers against inferior competition this spring, but he is clearly focused on the future: Swihart works on both of his swings by switching back and forth between hitting lefthanded and righthanded, regardless of the pitcher he's facing. Swihart's athleticism shows up behind the plate. He receives well and shows good footwork. He has a strong arm and has shortened his arm stroke this spring. He obviously would have more value at catcher, but his athleticism and potent bat may tempt a team to move him to another position. Swihart is 6 feet and 175 pounds and baby-faced, so some scouts think he'll get taller and stronger as he matures. He is committed to Texas, and would be eligible for the draft again as a sophomore if he goes to college.

Slim Pickins

The only other player in the state with a chance to be picked in the first 20 rounds is New Mexico JC outfielder Devon Conley. He is a sophomore who transferred in after getting 14 at-bats as a freshman at New Mexico. Conley has a 6-foot-1, 160-pound frame, and he's a center fielder with true 80 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale. He covers a lot of ground in center field and has an average arm. He has a short, contact-oriented swing from the right side of the plate and will have gap power, at best. The team that drafts him may try to get him to switch-hit to take better advantage of his speed.