By Allan Simpson
(Talent Ranking: ** out of five) With a roster that has 10 previously drafted players, defending Junior College World Series champion Southern Nevada could compete with most four-year programs. Most of the school's better players were under control and eligible to sign before the draft. CCSN recruits almost exclusively from the normally rich Las Vegas high school ranks, but the pickings are slim this year. Most of the state's best prep talent is in the north, in and around Reno.
Projected First-Round Picks
Second- to Fifth-Round Talent
• Jordan Parraz, rhp/of
The Phillies drafted Parraz in the sixth round last year, unsure whether he would be a pitcher or hitter. They didn't sign him but retained his rights when he enrolled at Southern Nevada, making him the highest pick from last year to became a draft-and-follow. A year later, it's no clearer where Parraz' upside is greater or whether the Phillies will make a push to sign him. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder began the year in the Coyotes rotation and touched 96 mph, but his control was so erratic--both in and out of the strike zone--that he lost his job. He eventually took over in left field and became the leading hitter in the Scenic West Conference, a wood-bat league, while showing potential to hit with power. He wound up hitting .359-2-29. He has run the 60-yard dash in 6.6 seconds. Parraz doesn't showcase his tools well in games, but few players in this year's draft can match his five-tool potential.
Others To Watch
• For a change, Nevada's three best high school prospects--LHPs Jacob McGee and Jeff Schoenbachler, and 3B Willie Bowman--reside in the northern half of the state. Schoenbachler is the most polished but may be the last one drafted. He is undersized at 6-foot, 170 pounds, his stuff is limited and he is committed to attending Long Beach State. The 6-foot-3 McGee is more thrower than pitcher at this stage, but has considerable upside. His command of a 90-91 mph fastball was spotty and he rarely held his velocity into the middle innings. Bowman hit the ball with authority in the past but was slowed this spring by a nagging hamstring pull. A shortstop in high school, he'll probably need to move to third base and may not have the raw power demanded for the position. Both McGee and Bowman have committed to Nevada-Las Vegas.
• Another UNLV signee is C Bryce Massanori, the best prospect in a thin Las Vegas high school crop. He swings the bat well, but his arm strength is below-average and he may not have the physique to withstand the demands of being an everyday receiver.
• Jordan Parraz is the best prospect at talent-rich CC of Southern Nevada, but OF Calvin Beamon, a 12th-round pick of the Cardinals last year, may be the better athlete. He created less buzz than a year ago because he didn't play to his tools, though scouts say he became a more savvy and complete player. His speed enables him to reach first base in 3.9 seconds, and he has a right-field arm with center-field range, but his power is a little short. Beamon could sign with the Cardinals, re-enter the draft as a possible 10th-12th round pick or attend Texas, his college commitment.
• Six-foot-4, 220-pound LHP Tyler Coon, under control to the Giants as a 26th-round pick in 2003, has also committed to Texas. He was still not at 100 percent this year after missing 2003 with a bacterial infection that caused him to lose a lot of weight. His fastball was back up to 89-91, peaking at 92.
• OF Mike Dunn was Houston's unsigned 14th-round pick a year ago and ended up moving to first base at Southern Nevada. He made strides with a wood bat while running the 60-yard dash in 6.7 seconds.
• Sophomore SS Sean Kazmar, an A's draft-and-follow, is an outstanding defensive shortstop. He doesn't profile as well for pro ball as he does college because his size is an issue and he doesn't run well for a middle infielder. Scouts say holes in his swing would be exposed by a wood bat, though he hit a steady .327-3-21--with wood--this spring. A premium Division I recruit, he committed to Georgia.
• UNLV has one of the most senior-dominated teams in the country. Their three top hitters are seniors, led by Mountain West Conference player of the year Eric Nielsen, as are their top three pitchers. Those are also their best draft prospects and all could be good senior signs. Nielsen led the Rebels in batting (.413), homers (15) and RBIs (81), and is an adequate defender with average arm strength. There is debate whether he or fellow outfielder Brent Johnson will be the team's higher draft, though both could go in the first 10 rounds. Johnson, who turned down an offer to be drafted in the 10th round last year and was a late-round pick of the Blue Jays, is a more versatile player than Nielsen but doesn't run as well. He's a sound defensive center fielder, has played third extensively and showcased an 88-92 mph fastball in a rare trip to the mound. Five-foot-9 RHP Jake Vose led UNLV with 10 wins while being clocked from 88-92. Five-foot-8 2B Ryan Ruiz also performed well, hitting .380-5-42, but their size will hurt both players in their bid to play beyond college. RHP Dave Seccombe stirred interest with one of the best curveballs in the draft. The only UNLV junior with draft value is 5-foot-11 RHP Matt Minor, who has command of three pitches, including an 89-92 mph fastball.
• Nevada's best prospects are both juniors. OF Jake Butler generates excellent bat speed from a tall, wiry frame and led the Wolf Pack with a .349 average, 16 homers and 57 RBIs. OF/C Chris Gimenez is more powerfully built at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds and projects more power than Butler, but finished behind him in homers. In order maximize his value, he'll need to move behind the plate again. Gimenez was a catcher as a freshman but hurt his arm and slowly has built it back up in the outfield, though it's still not 100 percent.