New Mexico Scouting Reports

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

story of the year in New Mexico, as expected, was a little lefthander
who dealt. But instead of the focus being on New Mexico Junior
College’s Brian Flores, a relative giant at 5-foot-11, it was on New
Mexico’s Danny Ray Herrera, who was among the NCAA Division I leaders
in ERA for much of the season despite pitching at New Mexico’s jetport
of a ballpark. Herrera’s performance leveled off a bit late in the
season, but he still offers some intrigue to an otherwise lackluster
draft state.

1. Brian Flores, lhp, New Mexico JC (CONTROL: White Sox)
2. Matt Speake, rhp, New Mexico JC
3. Luke Hopkins, 1b, New Mexico State
4. Danny Ray Herrera, lhp, New Mexico
5. Jason Connor, rhp, New Mexico State
6. Chris Carlson, 1b/of, New Mexico
7. Jarrad Watkins, rhp, Farmington HS
8. Jason Davidson, lhp/1b, La Cueva HS, Albuquerque
9. Dan Stovall, 1b, New Mexico
10. Matt Foote, of, New Mexico
11. Brian Cavazos-Galvez, 1b, New Mexico JC
12. J.J. Muse, of, La Cueva HS, Albuquerque

Strong NMJC Squad Highlights Land Of Enchantment

New Mexico Junior College, ranked No. 1 for five national juco polls in a row, offered the state’s two best arms in Brian Flores, a quick-armed lefthander under control to the White Sox, and righthander Matt Speake.
Scouts were reticent to talk about Flores, who was engaged in
negotiations with the World Series champions and expecting a six-figure
signing bonus. All three of his pitches grade out as average, with a
fastball that hits 90 mph regularly, a good curveball and solid
changeup. He threw one five-inning perfect game this season, needing
just 48 pitches as NMJC won 11-0 for his school-record sixth shutout.

was not under control and showed an average fastball in the 86-91 mph
range as a freshman. His slider also showed the potential to be a plus
pitch, and he has a durable body, though on the short side at 6-foot,
195 pounds. A third NMJC player, first baseman Brian Cavazos-Galvez,
also was not under control and was the team’s leading hitter most of
the season. He comes from a baseball background and has a feel for
hitting, having won the state’s high school triple crown in 2005. The
trio couldn’t get New Mexico back to Grand Junction, as the defending
national champions were eliminated with an 0-2 record in regional play.

New Mexico State’s top prospect, first baseman Luke Hopkins,
has followed a recent tradition of Aggies sluggers who have taken turns
atop national hitting leader boards. Unlike Billy Becher and Ryan
Kenning, however, Hopkins doesn’t come from the Gary Ward school of
hitters. The former Oklahoma State and New Mexico State coach’s methods
often led hitters to develop an arm bar, straightening their lead arm
and short-circuiting their bat speed. Hopkins has a sound, natural
swing that produces above-average lefthanded power, and he repeats it.
He’s patient and isn’t afraid to go the other way, and he has shown
some athleticism despite his 6-foot-1, 240-pound body. He’s a
below-average fielder but not a slug–not yet, anyway. Hopkins was
slowed by a hamstring injury late, which further clouded the
draft-eligible sophomore’s signability as scouts had less time to
evaluate him.

His teammate, righthander Jason Connor,
has a low 90s fastball and tight slider at times, and has been a
durable, consistent starter at high altitudes. He’s short (6 feet) and
strong (225 pounds) but lacks offspeed stuff, making him profile as a
reliever in the major leagues.

Danny Ray Herrera
attracted national attention for his exploits at New Mexico this
season, though his ERA had jumped to 2.30 by the time the Mountain West
Conference tournament rolled around. Herrera wearing down over the
season is no surprise, as he’s listed at just 5-foot-7, 145 pounds, and
he ranked third in the nation with 120 innings. Scouts say Herrera’s
money pitch, a changeup with true screwball action, is a legitimate
plus major league pitch due to his arm speed, the late fade and tumble
the pitch has and his ability to locate it. His fastball has touched 88
mph but usually is in the 83-86 range. Herrera is just so
unconventional, it’s difficult to expect him to be drafted highly.

The Lobos have more conventional picks, led by Chris Carlson,
a Kansas State transfer with good size (6-foot-4, 225 pounds),
patience, strength and decent bat speed. If Carlson were more athletic
he’d be a solid draft as an outfielder, but he’s played mostly first
base in 2006. Outfielder Matt Foote
is more athletic–an average runner with better bat speed than
Carlson–who doesn’t hit enough to be more than a senior sign. DH/1B Dan Stovall, a solid hitter with no plus tool, falls into the same category.

New Mexico high schools don’t do much for scouts this year. Jason Davidson
entered the season as the top player in the state and had a fine
season, leading the state in home runs as La Cueva won its fourth
consecutive Class 5-A state championship. He doesn’t have pro tools or
a pro body, so he’s expected to play both ways at New Mexico.

That leaves righthander Jarrad Watkins,
also a New Mexico signee, as the top prospect. Watkins has a small
frame (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) but a loose arm and has sent his fastball
in at an 87-90 mph clip much of the spring. His curveball is a good
pitch at the amateur level but needs to be tighter. He’s academically
inclined, so it might take a decent round to keep him from school.