|THIS YEAR’S CROP|
|*****||One for the books|
|***||Solid, not spectacular|
|**||Not up to par|
|*||Nothing to see here|
State was on its way to its second straight Pacific-10 Conference
championship, and the Beavers were doing it despite a down year by
their top prospect, righthander Dallas Buck. The Beavers are a
veteran-dominated team and should have at least six players drafted.
Those numbers help make up for a down year in the state’s high schools,
whose top prospect, outfielder Drew Rundle, also had a rough spring.
|National Top 200 Prospects|
1. Dallas Buck, rhp, Oregon State
2. Drew Rundle, of, Bend HS
3. Cole Gillespie, of, Oregon State
|Other Players Of Note|
4. Kevin Gunderson, lhp, Oregon State
5. Mitch Canham, c/3b, Oregon State
6. Jonah Nickerson, rhp, Oregon State
7. Nick Waechter, lhp, Western Oregon State
8. Tyrell Poggemeyer, rhp, Pleasant Hill HS
9. Tyler Graham, of, Oregon State
10. Jerad Thompson, rhp, Churchill HS, Eugene
11. Austin Dirkx, rhp, Portland
12. Joey Wong, ss/2b, Sprague HS, Salem
13. Blake Keitzman, lhp, Roseburg HS
14. Derrick Jones, rhp, George Fox
1. Dallas Buck, rhp (National rank: 48)
School: Oregon State. Class: Jr.
Hometown: Newberg, Ore.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 210. Birthdate: 11/11/84.
No pitcher elicits more head-scratches in the West than Buck, who has
gone from hard-throwing bad boy to soft-tossing, innings-eating
warrior. A former special-teams player for Oregon State’s football
team, Buck is one of the draft’s better athletes, and his athletic
ability and competitiveness have helped him pitch through a dead-arm
period that has sapped his velocity. While Buck won his first nine
decisions for the Pacific-10 Conference-leading Beavers, his fastball
registered in the 82-87 mph range after sitting around 89-91 mph last
season and touching 94. A mid-April MRI showed a sprain of his ulnar
collateral ligament, with no tear. He had three solid starts with
improved velocity thereafter, but slid back in mid-May to the mid-80s.
Without his velocity, Buck has relied on adding sink to his fastball,
spotting it better and outwitting hitters with his slider and changeup,
both average pitches. While his mound demeanor has turned off scouts in
the past, his willingness to compete without his best stuff has offset
many makeup concerns. If his velocity returns, Buck should be better
than ever, having learned to pitch in its absence.
2. Drew Rundle, of(National rank: 106)
School: Bend HS. Class: Sr.
Hometown: Bend, Ore.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 160. Birthdate: 11/5/87.
Two Oregon-bred outfielders went in the first round in 2005, but both
Portland’s Trevor Crowe and Madras’ Jacoby Ellsbury were drafted out of
college, not high school. Rundle entered the spring with a chance to
join them as first-rounders after a strong summer on the showcase
circuit, where he showed the ability to hit off top-flight pitchers in
his draft class with good velocity. That momentum didn’t carry over to
the spring, though, and his hopes for being drafted highly rest
primarily on his athletic ability and his performance last summer.
Rundle has changed his approach this spring, spreading out at the plate
(with a stance similar to Jim Edmonds’) to gain better plate coverage.
He’s not strong enough to generate power from the stance and had only
one homer all spring as the draft approached. Unlike Edmonds (or
burners Crowe and Ellsbury), Rundle doesn’t profile as a center fielder
even though he’s a present average runner, so scouts are seeing a
corner outfielder who isn’t showing present power. He has average arm
strength, and scouts who like him point out he hasn’t seen much to hit
all spring. An Arizona recruit as was Crowe before him, he’s expected
to go off the board in the first five rounds.
3. Cole Gillespie, of(National rank: 122)
School: Oregon State. Class: Jr.
Hometown: West Linn, Ore.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: .
The best hitter on Oregon State’s first-place team in the Pacific-10
Conference, Gillespie has improved his draft stock considerably this
season. Scouts regularly describe him as a hard-nosed player who
doesn’t have a glaring weakness and has solid tools across the board.
He impressed scouts last year by playing both infield corner spots and
has spent a lot of time in center field in 2006, filling in for the
injured Tyler Graham. His versatility and solid bat may lead him to
become a valuable utility player in the future. Gillespie’s arm is
fringe-average, and he’s a solid athlete and runner. His bat is his
best tool, as scouts consider his hit tool average or slightly
above-average. While he has considered switch-hitting in the past, he
has a sound righthanded swing that generates average power and allows
him to catch up to good fastballs, as he did when he hit a homer off
Tim Lincecum in May. Gillespie has had left shoulder problems in the
past and doesn’t do anything pretty, but his performance in a draft shy
on college hitters was expected to earn him a spot in the first five
Down Year For Oregon Preps
high schools would get one star if rated on their own, and if not for
Rundle, who had a disappointing season but was still expected to be
drafted high after a strong summer. The next-best bets to get drafted
are righthanders Tyrell Poggemeyer, a raw, projectable athlete who also catches for his high school team, and Jerad Thompson,
who has a loose arm that came up sore late in the season after he had
improved his velocity into the upper 80s. Poggemeyer, an Oregon State
signee, should go higher because of his athletic ability (he’s a solid
basketball player as well) and arm strength. He was still throwing in
the 87-88 mph range despite catching much of the season. Thompson
hadn’t pitched since mid-April due to elbow soreness. No other prep
players were expected to hear their names on the first day of the draft.
Buck and Gillespie top the state’s college contingent, followed by teammates Kevin Gunderson, Jonah Nickerson and Tyler Graham. That group should also include sophomore-eligible Mitch Canham.
In just his second year as a catcher, Canham might be the most
intriguing player of the second group because he’s athletic, bats
lefthanded and has become a serviceable receiver with a strong arm. He
consistently posts 1.95-second times to second base on his throws, and
he could be an average defender behind the plate with experience. A
poorly timed slump dropped Canham’s batting numbers in May, but he was
rallying late and had virtually identical numbers to his redshirt
freshman season. He missed his first year after surgery to shave down a
bone in his right arm, which was longer than his left arm. Some scouts
didn’t think Canham’s bat would be worth the money to buy him out of
two years of college.
Gunderson is the safest remaining Oregon
State pick as a small lefty with three pitches he can throw for
strikes. His stuff isn’t as firm as it was last year. His fastball has
sat in the 86-89 mph range and rarely hits the low 90s, which it
touched consistently last season. His slider has gone backward as well,
and he has compensated by showing improved control of his fastball and
a solid-average changeup. Despite the dip in stuff, he was among NCAA
Division I leaders with 15 saves. Gunderson also is a team leader and
durable despite his small stature. He profiles as a lefty reliever if
his slider comes back.
Graham is the best runner in the state
when healthy, putting up times that merit 80 grades (on the 20-80
scouting scale) from scouts. But he has had hamstring problems all
season. Even when healthy last season, Graham had just six extra-base
hits and profiles as an extra outfielder. Short (6-foot-1) righthander
Nickerson has a better chance to go good with four fringe-average
pitchess: fastball, cutter, curveball and changeup. He has control of
his entire arsenal, though his walk rate was up and he’d been more
hittable in 2006 than he was as a sophomore. Like Gunderson a member of
USA Baseball’s college national team last summer, Nickerson pitches
smart and has a plan, which should at least get him through A-ball. His
positive exposure with Team USA last summer should get him off the
board in the first 10 rounds.
Division III George Fox senior Derrick Jones
merits mention after making all-conference as both a hitter and
pitcher. His tools don’t inspire pro scouts, who prefer righthander Nick Waechter
of Western Oregon. Waechter has some projection in his body, an average
fastball that could gain a tick or two as he matures, and a
solid-average slider. The combination made him 12-0 this season, the
league’s pitching triple crown winner and the winningest pitcher in the
history of the Great Northwestern Athletic Conference. Righthander Austin Dirkx will be the University of Portland’s top draftee, a reliever with a solid-average sinker and slider.