Three Strikes: Week 12
Three Strikes this week focuses on Illinois closer Tyler Jay, Auburn’s Anfernee Grier and Oregon’s young lefthanders. Strike One: Jay Brings The Fire In Illini Bullpen COLUMBUS, Ohioâ€”The team meeting […]
2005 Draft Scouting Reports: Oklahoma
By Jim Callis
(National ranking in parentheses)
1. C.J. HENRY, ss (National rank: 20)
School: Putnam City HS.
Hometown: Oklahoma City.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 200. Birthdate: May 31, 1986.
College Commitment: None.
Scouting Report: Henry comes from a basketball family. His father Carl twice led Kansas University in scoring and spent a season in the NBA and several more overseas. His mother Barbara also played for the Jayhawks. His younger brother Xavier is a top hoops prospect—as is C.J. But scouts aren't worried too much about Henry's signability because they believe he's a baseball player at heart and will turn pro if he goes early in the draft. Henry, who has attracted interest from the top basketball programs in the Big 12 Conference, has held off committing to a college until he sees how the baseball draft plays out. Henry has one of the highest ceilings in the draft, which should make him a first-round pick. He's an exceptional athlete with a tantalizing combination of power and speed. One crosschecker calls him a potential Gary Sheffield and also compares him to Vernon Wells. Henry's swing isn't as pure as Wells' and it will take him time to adjust to professional pitching, but he should take off once he gets acclimated and focuses full-time on baseball. Henry also will have to polish his defensive game. He plays shortstop now but may not have quite enough arm to play there in the majors. That's not a concern, however, because Henry's tools would play well either in center field or at third base.
2. BRYANT BEAVER, rhp/ss (National rank: 132)
3. DANIEL McCUTCHEN, rhp (National rank: 179)
OTHERS TO WATCH
(Numbers in parentheses indicate rank in Oklahoma)
Cowboys Offer Good Depth Of Arms
Oklahoma State has three lefthanders who could be taken on the first day of the draft. Brae Wright (5) was the state's best college prospect until he broke his pitching hand. Three sources outside of the Cowboys program said he did so when he punched a teammate, on the heels of Mississippi dismissing him in the middle of the 2004 season for violations of team rules. Wright's makeup will cost him a chance to go in the top three rounds, but he could be an easier sign and will get picked because he'sa lefty who can throw multiple pitches for strikes, including an 88-92 mph fastball, a cutter and a slider. Adam Daniels (13) has the best stuff of the Oklahoma State southpaws but hasn't had as much success because he's inconsistent. Taken in each of the last four drafts, including in the 43rd round by the Cubs in 2004, he throws 90-92 mph and flashing a plus slider. Thomas Cowley (15) won 10 games as the Cowboys' No. 1 starter with pure finesse. He only works at 86-87 mph but throws strikes and gets righthanders out with his changeup.
RHP Scott Richmond (6), an attractive senior sign, is similar to Daniels. Both grew up in North Vancouver, B.C., and Richmond also has a 90-92 mph fastball and a nice slider. Richmond isn't a lefty, but he has better size (6-foot-5, 223 pounds) and does a better job of finding the strike zone. Both Canadians will benefit from a new law that will permit them to begin playing pro ball as soon as they sign, rather than having to wait until 2006 to get a work visa.
Scouts are tracking two Dominicans from New York who are playing at Connors State Junior College. OF Elvin Vargas (7) is a 6-foot-4, 220-pounder who has hit 12 homers using wood bats this spring. He could sneak into the first 10 rounds. SS Angel Cabrera (10) is a multitooled player but is less refined.
The state's two best prep pitching prospects, Matt Morgal (8) and John Maschino (12), are both 6-foot-5 righthanders who pitch for rival high schools in Edmond. Both have 88-91 mph fastballs and some feel for a curveball. Morgal probably will get drafted first because he's committed only to a junior college (Seminole State), and Maschino had tenderness in his arm this spring. Maschino has signed with Oklahoma.
The best prep hitter is SS/RHP Marcus Tackett (4),who might have been a sixth- to 10th-round pick had he not broken his ankle in a preseason game. He'll be a two-way player if he attends Oral Roberts (where his brother Jon is a senior third baseman) and purely a shortstop if he turns pro. Tackett has pop, average speed and a 90-mph fastball.
Though he had his best season in three years at Oklahoma State, SS Chris Gutierrez (9) impressed scouts more in the Cape Cod League last summer than he has this spring. He stands out more for his instincts and makeup than any particular tool. He does have decent pop for a 5-foot-11, 175-pound middle infielder, and he has average speed and defensive tools. If Gutierrez signs, the Cowboys' likely replacement is SS/RHP Jordy Mercer (11), who could mature into an interesting prospect after three years of college. He packs just 160 pounds on his 6-foot-2 frame and has faced only Class B high school competition (the state's lowest level of play), but he has power potential, average speed and a strong arm. He throws 88-91 mph as a pitcher, and some scouts think that could be his future. He will be a tough sign, however.
LHP Garrett Patterson (14) is finally healthy after battling elbow problems at Kansas State, Grayson County Community College and Oklahoma. He has come back from two surgeries to touch 95 mph this spring. Patterson, who usually pitches at 89-92 mph, also has added depth to his curveball and uses a cutter. He has held opponents to a .192 average and zero homers this spring. A club willing to overlook Patterson's medical history and age (23) could take him around the 10th round. A rare fifth-year junior, he can be a draft-and-follow.
Three Oral Roberts players who once figured to be prominent picks now will have to settle for being mid-draft selections as seniors. SS Michael Hollimon (16) was a potential first-round pick out of a Texas high school in 2001, but his reported $2 million price tag scared clubs off. He struggled both offensively and defensively in three years at Texas, and his biggest problem may be that he's too hard on himself. He has solid tools across the board and the ability to be an above-average defender, but it hasn’t happened for him. RHP/1B Dennis Bigley (21) is one of college baseball's top two-way performers, but his stuff has been down since he left the Cape Cod League early in 2003. He had a low-90s fastball then, but now pitches in the mid-80s with an average slider. Scouts always have preferred him on the mound, and they give him points for his competitive makeup. Bigley has been the Mid-Continent Conference player and pitcher of the year in each of the last two seasons, sharing the player award with Hollimon this spring. RHP Rene Recio (30) had an 89-93 mph fastball that topped out at 95 to go with a sharp slider as a freshman in 2002. Since coming down with shoulder tendinitis and a stress fracture in his elbow in 2003, he has lost significant velocity on both pitches. He now works at 85-88 mph.
1B/RHP Adam Carr (22) and RHP Mike Mlotkowski (26) have put up eye-popping numbers that exceed their pro potential. Carr leads NCAA Division I with 86 RBIs and ranks third with 22 homers, but scouts aren't sure his power will translate at the next level. He has a long swing and doesn't catch up to good fastballs. He pitched only five innings this spring, but scouts would like to see more of his 90-92 mph fastball on the mound. Mlotkowski has three no-hitters (including a perfect game) in the last two seasons for NAIA power Oklahoma City, and another in the Valley League last summer. But he wasn't drafted last year as a junior and scouts aren't overwhelmed by his stuff.
1B Corey Wine's (24) father Robbie was the eighth overall pick in the 1983 draft out of Oklahoma State and played in the majors, as did his grandfather Bobby. Corey is expected to put his pro dreams on hold for a few years in order to play at Penn State, where Robbie is the head coach. Corey is an athletic 6-foot-5, 195-pounder who could grow into considerable power as he gets stronger.