Nevada Scouting Reports

***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here

exploding population hasn’t resulted in better high school baseball,
and Las Vegas in particular has actually seen the quality of its high
school baseball fall as the talent gets spread out over more and more
schools. That doesn’t mean the state lacks talent, as
righthander/shortstop Thomas Pham demonstrated this spring. The state’s
top player draws interest as both a hitter (an infielder with power)
and a pitcher, though he prefers to hit. Both of Nevada’s college teams
struggled on the field this season and neither has an elite draft pick.

National Top 200 Prospects

1. Thomas Pham, ss/rhp, Durango HS, Las Vegas

Other Players Of Note

2. Jordan Smith, rhp, CC of Southern Nevada
3. Kyle Smit, rhp, Spanish Springs HS, Sparks
4. Chad Robinson, rhp, Silverado HS, Las Vegas
5. Shawn Scobee, of, Nevada
6. Kevin Skogley, lhp, Nevada-Las Vegas
7. Steven Hirschfield, rhp, CC of Southern Nevada (CONTROL: Rockies)
8. Bryce Massanari, rhp, CC of Southern Nevada
9. Matt Luca, rhp, Nevada-Las Vegas
10. Craig Heyer, rhp, CC of Southern Nevada (CONTROL: Diamondbacks)
11. Tim Schoeninger, rhp, Nevada
12. Kylee Hash, c, Basic HS, Henderson
13. Ryan Kowalski, of, Nevada-Las Vegas
14. Jabe Beard, rhp, Nevada-Las Vegas
15. Mason Tobin, rhp, Western Nevada JC (CONTROL: Braves)
16. Cameron Johnson, of, CC of Southern Nevada (CONTROL: Yankees)

1. Thomas Pham, ss/rhp (National rank: 78)
School: Durango HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Las Vegas
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 185. Birthdate: 3/8/88.
Scouting Report:
While Las Vegas has exploded in population, its status as a baseball
hotbed has receded a bit in recent years. Pham is the best of a thin
crop this year, and ranks as both the best hitting prospect and best
pitching prospect in Nevada. Scouts and college coaches are split on
which position suits him best, though Pham has been clear in
discussions with scouts and the press that he prefers to hit. On the
mound, he has more present ability despite his inexperience, showing
easy velocity in the 90-92 mph range and a feel for a slider that could
be a plus pitch. Offensively, he won’t stay at shortstop in pro ball,
and his bat may allow him to move either to third, to take advantage of
his arm strength, or to second. He reminded one scout of the
Diamondbacks’ Scott Hairston for his strong frame, the way the ball
jumps off his bat–and his seeming indifference to playing defense.
He’s an above-average runner who can cover 60 yards in 6.7 seconds.
Questions about Pham’s maturity–he wavered on his college choice,
orally committing to Arizona before signing with Cal State
Fullerton–should not be enough to drop him out of the first five

Juco, Prep Players Dominate State

Community College of Southern Nevada, the national junior college
national champion in 2003, won 40 games on the field but had to forfeit
27 of them due to eligibility questions on speedy outfielder Cameron Johnson (a 6.4-second runner over 60 yards) and righthander Craig Heyer,
a two-time Diamondbacks draftee with an above-average slider and
average fastball. The forfeits meant the Coyotes had to push to win
late in the year to make the postseason, at the expense of the
development of some of their less-experienced arms. Nevertheless,
scouts saw enough of righthander Jordan Smith
to run him into the first 10 rounds. Smith went to Salt Lake Community
College as a catcher/first baseman but realized arm strength was his
best tool and transferred to Southern Nevada so he could pitch. While
he was used in a limited role, his fastball sat in the 92-94 mph range
and touched 96. More significantly to scouts, he wasn’t under control
to any club. His 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame is another plus. His
inexperience and developing secondary stuff are drawbacks, though his
slider and split-finger fastball both improved as the season
progressed, as Smith learned to throw both with some power.

The next-best pitchers in the state were also hard-throwing righthanders, Chad Robinson and Kyle Smit.
Robinson touched 94 mph as a sophomore but had labrum surgery as a
junior. Robinson had made five starts down the stretch of the high
school season, though, and was regaining arm strength, maintaining his
88-91 mph fastball deep into his fifth start and touching 92. He wasn’t
throwing many sliders, but his changeup is his second-best pitch
anyway, and he’s shown a good feel for it. The question on Robinson is
whether his medical background and lack of a breaking ball will
outweigh his projectable 6-foot-5, 200-pound frame for teams. Robinson
is a Nevada-Las Vegas signee, while Smit has no real college option.
His team didn’t even make the state playoffs, but he showed plus stuff,
at times the best in the state. His fastball velocity comes and goes,
at times sitting at 91-92 mph, and he has a loose arm that leads scout
to project more future velo. Smit’s slider is even more inconsistent,
but he has flashed a plus breaker at times. He has room to fill out his
frame and was considered signable.

Southern Nevade already had
one player sign as a draft-and-follow in shortstop Cole Miles (Braves),
a solid all-around player with good speed. Righthander Steven Hirschfield
was under control to the Rockies and had a strong spring as the
Coyotes’ ace, driving up his price tag. Hirschfield sits in the 88-91
mph range with his fastball and has a relatively fresh arm, having
pitched just 10 innings as a freshman due to a broken arm. His
secondary stuff needs work, as does his delivery. His short stride has
him pitching uphill somewhat, sapping his velocity. The Phillies had
Bryce Massanari under control last year but didn’t sign him, and
Massanari wasn’t drafted in 2005. He hardly played in 2006 due to a
broken foot and is expected to follow through on his commitment to
Georgia. Massanari is Nevada’s all-time high school hits leader but has
a body that doesn’t project well for the field. He is a better prospect
on the mound, where he sits in the low 90s in shorter stints. Georgia
has recruited him as a catcher. He’s an adequate receiver with obvious
arm strength.

Looking For Diamonds In The Rough

The top college players out of Nevada all have significant flaws. Nevada outfielder Shawn Scobee
has tools that tantalize scouts, particularly his power. He was a
fifth-round pick out of high school and spent his freshman season at
Cal State Fullerton, where it became quickly apparent he was not going
to fit in. Execution isn’t Scobee’s strength. He’s there to mash and
has two plus tools: raw power and a throwing arm that is well-suited
for right field. Scobee was taking advantage of his strength and
Nevada’s hitter’s ballpark to rank second in the nation in slugging
percentage (.828). He has a long swing and an overly aggressive
approach, and strikeouts (and a low batting average) will always be
part of the deal. He’s a hard worker and good teammate and should go
out in the first 10 rounds to a team that believes it can teach him a
better all-around hitting approach.

Like Scobee, righthander Matt Luca
has been a more prominent prospect in the past, having thrown a
no-hitter as a freshman at UNLV and hitting 94 mph with good sink on
his fastball. Three years later, Luca was still working his way back
from shoulder problems, the latest a tendon injury that sidelined him
much of the season. Scouts questioned how long it took him to return
from the injury, and some wonder about his desire to play. He was
throwing 86-91 mph this season with some depth on his curveball, but
his stuff wasn’t as explosive as it had been when he was a freshman.

UNLV lefthander Kevin Skogley
should be drafted higher, though his stock was falling with his
performance as the season wore on. Skogley, a Tommy John surgery
alumnus, was in the 90-92 mph range as a freshman with his fastball and
was anywhere from 84-92 this year. His slider has been an above-average
pitch at times, and he throws a straight changeup and split-finger
fastball as well. Skogley is a redshirt sophomore, and his late fade
could drop him low enough in the draft that he might return to UNLV as
a junior. Both Luca and Skogley have better stuff than Nevada righty Tim Schoeninger,
a Nebraska transfer and Colorado native who was a steady innings-eater
the last two seasons for the Wolf Pack. Schoeninger has fringy to
below-average stuff but throws strikes and competes.