State Report: Missouri

Another down year in the Show-Me State




Follow me on Twitter

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
Missouri didn't have a player selected in the top five rounds last year, the first time that had happened since 1995. The Show-Me State's talent isn't much better in 2011, with high school outfielder Johnny Eierman the only prospect assured of getting tabbed that early. The high school talent outshone the college prospects this spring, especially in terms of position players. Missouri State second baseman Kevin Medrano had a disappointing junior season that could drop him out of the first 10 rounds.

NATIONAL TOP 200 PROSPECTS

1. Johnny Eierman, of, Warsaw HS (National Rank: 84)
2. Matt Stites, rhp, Missouri (National Rank: 178)

OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE

3. Lance Jeffries, of, McCluer HS, Florissant
4. Dan Kickham, rhp, Missouri State
5. Brett Graves, rhp, Francis Howell HS, St. Charles
6. Kevin Medrano, 2b, Missouri State
7. David Schmidt, rhp, Christian Brothers HS, St. Louis
8. Joseph Kassanavoid, of/rhp, Longview CC
9. Justin Sprenger, rhp, Jefferson CC
10. Dane Gronewald, lhp, Jefferson CC
11. Adam Schemenauer, lhp, Park Hill South HS, Riverside
12. Conner Mach, of/3b, Missouri
13. Chance Cleveland, rhp, Crowder CC
14. Freddie Cabrera, rhp, Central Methodist
15. Nick DeBiasse, 1b, Central Missouri State
16. Brad Buehler, rhp, Missouri
17. Jonah Schmidt, of, Missouri
18. Corey Embree, of, Moberly HS
19. Aaron Conway, of, Missouri State
20. Phil McCormick, lhp, Missouri

SCOUTING REPORTS

Johnny Eierman, of

Warsaw HS


A product of a central Missouri town with a population of 2,100, Eierman boosted his draft stock by showing impressive raw tools on a bigger stage last summer. He made the rounds of the showcase circuit, posting the second-best 60-yard dash time (6.41 seconds) at the Area Code Games and launching balls in batting practice. Eierman has well above-average bat speed to match his foot speed, though he'll have to make adjustments against better pitching. He has a long righthanded stroke with an inconsistent load, and he's too aggressive at the plate. If he can iron out his swing, he could be an average hitter with plus power. A shortstop for his high school team coached by his father John, Eierman won't stay in the infield in pro ball. He lacks the hands and actions for second base, and his average arm may not be enough for third. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder has the tools to become a solid center fielder. A Louisiana State recruit, he'll need time to develop but has a high ceiling.

Matt Stites, rhp

Missouri

It's easy to underestimate Stites because of his size, generously listed at 6 feet and 181 pounds, but he keeps proving himself. He was the ace at Jefferson (Mo.) CC for two years, held his own in the Cape Cod League last summer and has been Missouri's most effective starter in his first season with the Tigers. Stites succeeds with quality stuff, using his quick-twitch athleticism and fast arm to consistently pitch at 90-93 mph and peak at 95. His size does cost him some plane on his fastball, which can get straight and sit up in the zone, but he pitches off it well. His slider gives him a reliable second pitch, and he mixes in a curveball and changeup. Stites competes well and has a resilient arm, which along with his size and fastball/slider combo probably will lead to a pro career as a reliever. He turned down the Cubs as a 33rd-round pick last year.

Jeffries Draws Gant Comparisons

Multiple area scouts say outfielder Lance Jeffries' strong, compact frame and tools remind them of former Braves all-star Ron Gant. The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder generates impressive bat speed from the right side of the plate, and he has plus speed and center-field range to go with solid arm strength. He's raw as a hitter, with a lot of effort in his uphill swing, but a team that believes in his bat could pop him in the first five rounds. Committed to Iowa Western CC, he's considered signable.

If Mike Kickham hadn't signed with the Giants for $410,000 as a sixth-rounder last summer, he would have teamed with his twin brother at Missouri State this spring. A 6-foot-4, 205-pound righthander, Dan Kickham is a mirror image of his brother, who's a similarly sized lefty. Dan saved 13 games to help Crowder (Mo.) CC reach the 2010 Junior College World Series, then turned down the Rockeis as a 37th-round pick and matched that total in his first season with the Bears. His best pitch is a low-80s slider that he sets up with an 88-91 mph fastball. He has toned down his delivery compared to a year ago, but there's still some effort and recoil.

Brett Graves' size and commitment to Missouri may preclude him from being an early-round pick, but the 6-foot-1, 180-pound righthander might have the best arm in the state. He's a quality athlete who drew college football interest as a quarterback and doubled as a shortstop on Francis Howell's state Class 4 championship team. He has a quick arm that arm that delivers fastballs up to 94 mph, and he can spin a hard curveball. His fastball doesn't have much downward plane, but he has good feel for the strike zone.

David Schmidt is similar to Graves, as a 6-foot, 170-pounder with a quick, powerful right arm. He's even less likely to sign than Graves because he's committed to Stanford and had labrum surgery after injuring his shoulder playing hockey two years ago. He has made an impressive recovery and now pitches at 87-91 mph and touches 93 with his sinker. He shows aptitude for throwing a slider and does a nice job of throwing strikes.

After finishing fourth in hitting (.321) and fifth in slugging (.423) in the Cape Cod League last summer, second baseman Kevin Medrano positioned himself as an early-round pick for 2011. He lost that momentum when he sprained his left shoulder in an early-season collision at home plate and got off to a slow start. He does an excellent job of using the whole field and making line-drive contact from the left side and has solid speed, but the 6-foot, 160-pounder doesn't walk much and has little power. He plays good defense at second base, though his below-average arm strength precludes him from trying shortstop. Scouts appreciate his blue-collar mentality but can't get past the fact that he's a second baseman with one plus tool. His brothers Steve and Jesus both played pro ball and reached the upper minors.

Joseph Kassanavoid has gone through a number of changes on his career path in the last three years. Scouts liked his potential as a pitcher when he was coming out of Lawson (Mo.) HS in 2008 but couldn't sign him away from a football commitment at Kansas State. When he was unable to move up the Wildcats' quarterback depth chart, Kassanavoid moved to defensive end, before giving up football and transferring to Park (Mo.), an NAIA school. After playing sparingly there, he transferred to Longview CC and established himself as an outfielder. He has a big league body at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, and a powerful righthanded swing that produced 19 homers, second nationally among Division II juco players. He'll have to adjust his approach in pro ball, as he's a dead-pull hitter who struggles against breaking pitches. Kassanavoid runs well for his size and has a strong arm. He flashed a 92 mph fastball in relief duty, but spent most of the spring pitching at 86-88. His athleticism and power potential are tantalizing, but he's also a 22-year-old juco sophomore. Some clubs also have concerns about his 2009 arrest on misdemeanor domestic battery charges.

Justin Sprenger pitched five innings of one-hit relief to beat Delgado (La.) CC in a district championship game that sent Jefferson CC to the Junior College World Series. A 6-foot-5, 200-pound righthander, he missed time early in the spring with elbow tendinitis but returned to show a 90-92 mph fastball that tops out at 94. He backs up his heater with a solid curveball. His arm works well but his command could stand some improvement. If he doesn't turn pro, he'll attend Arkansas State next year.

Some scouts think lefthander Dane Gronewald is the best prospect at Jefferson. A 6-foot-6, 225-pound freshman, he throws strikes to both sides of the plate with an 86-88 mph sinker that tops out at 91. His curveball and changeup are works in progress but show potential. He has a loose arm to go with his projectable frame.

Lefthanders don't come much more projectable than Adam Schemenauer, who's 6-foot-9 and 225 pounds. He's still raw on the mound, often pitching in the mid-80s with his fastball, but he also touches 93 and has good life on his heater. He telegraphs his secondary pitches by slowing his arm speed. Schemenauer, who had shoulder soreness early in the spring, is expected to attend Louisville rather than turn pro.