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2005 Draft Scouting Reports: Oregon
By Allan Simpson
(National ranking in parentheses)
1. JACOBY ELLSBURY, of (National rank: 25)
School: Oregon State.
Hometown: Madras, Ore.
B-T: L-L. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: Sept. 11, 1983.
Previously Drafted: Devil Rays 2002 (23)
Scouting Report: Fellow Oregon high school products Trevor Crowe (Arizona) and Jed Lowrie (Stanford) left the state in 2002 for what they thought would be a better opportunity at higher-profile Pacific-10 Conference schools. Ellsbury, who comes from a small high school in rural central Oregon, chose to stay home and he has been handsomely rewarded. Not only has he become a potential first-round pick, but Oregon State is having its best season ever, rising to No. 3 in the nation. Ellsbury’s .426 average was among the national leaders and he led the Beavers in every key offensive category, including home runs and RBIs—as the team’s leadoff hitter. He has few holes in his game and is capable of beating teams in a lot of ways. He has excellent makeup and instincts. His best tool is his speed, and it’s evident both on the bases and in center field, where he catches everything hit his way. He has been clocked in 6.55 seconds over 60 yards. His biggest improvement has been in his approach at the plate. He has become more patient, rarely swings and misses and is comfortable hitting with two strikes. In his first 235 plate appearances this season, he fanned 11 times while drawing 28 walks. His style of play and physical appearance have drawn comparisons to Johnny Damon at a similar age, but scouts say Ellsbury has a better swing. They question whether he’ll grow into the same power, though. They see him as more of a doubles and triples hitter. Boston has a big interest in Ellsbury, but they don’t pick until 23rd overall and may not have an opportunity to get him.
2. JASON OGATA, ss (National rank: 196)
OTHERS TO WATCH
(Numbers in parentheses indicate rank in Oregon)
Wait 'Til Next Year
Ellsbury is most responsible for making surprising Oregon State’s offense click, but the team’s real strength has been a sophomore-dominated pitching staff that has posted a 2.74 ERA. The staff should be even more formidable a year from now as all three starters--projected 2006 first-rounder Dallas Buck, Jonah Nickerson and Anton Maxwell—return, along with closer Kevin Gunderson. The quartet has combined to go 34-5, with Gunderson adding 13 saves.
Six-foot-4, 230-pound RHP Nate Fogle (3) has also contributed, as both a set-up man and part-time closer, going 4-2, 2.16 with five saves and 41 strikeouts in 42 innings. He has adapted well to aluminum bats after two years pitching only to wood, and a new role after going 21-1 as a starter in two years at Oregon’s Mount Hood Community College and 20-2 in summer competition with the Aloha (Ore.) Knights, the 2004 National Baseball Congress World Series champions. He has solid stuff from a low arm slot, with a 90-92 mph cut fastball and a three-piece slider. He is still getting accustomed to bullpen work, but he is well-suited to it because he is big, strong and durable and has a closer’s makeup. Fogle turned down significant bonus money from the Giants last year as a draft-and-follow to pitch at Oregon State, so it wouldn't be shocking if he decided to come back for his senior year with the Beavers.
Ellsbury is the fastest elite prospect in the Pac-10, but he’s not even the fastest player on his own team. That would be lean, athletic OF Tyler Graham (5), who hits behind Ellsbury in a speed-oriented lineup. He plays left field because of Ellsbury’s presence in center, and his arm is slightly below-average. Graham has benefited from the throngs of scouts who have come to see Ellsbury. His speed ranks a top-of-the scale 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and he’s been clocked from home to first on a push bunt in a lightning-fast 3.5 seconds. He puts pressure on defenses with his bunting and basestealing skills. He’s mainly a slap hitter and has a poor approach at the plate by pro standards because he swings and misses too much. There are questions whether he’ll hit with any authority with wood.
Senior 1B Andy Jenkins (12) has delivered a lot of key hits in Corvallis, but his pro future is up in the air because he lacks a defined position. He has caught and played third in a pinch, but has a below-average arm for either position.
Other colleges have struggled for attention this spring, but Linfield College OF Tommy Paterson (7) has attracted some interest. Linfield alum Scott Brosius is now an assistant coach and has provided valuable hitting tips, helping Paterson improved significantly at the plate as a senior. He was the Division III Northwest Conference player of the year after hitting .386-11-61 with 20 stolen bases. The remainder of his tools are passable, particularly his 6.6-second speed over 60 yards.
Any Future Stars In This Group?
Few predicted the 2002 Oregon high school ranks would become a star-studded class. Crowe was drafted in the 20th round, Ellsbury in the 23rd and Lowrie not at all. This year’s crop also doesn't look like it has a surefire future star, but a number of players should be decent picks, led by Ogata.
Paul Raglione (4), a projectable 6-foot-5 righthander, was considered a pitcher to follow early in the year, but crosscheckers and recruiters rushed in to see him in early May when word got out that his velocity had jumped to 87-90 mph. He drew particular attention from colleges because he had yet to make a commitment, despite an SAT score that would get him into almost any school in the country.
Oregon State’s top recruit is SS Mike McCormick (6), who has upside as a power hitter. He can put a charge in balls with wood, as he demonstrated at last summer’s Area Code Games, but his approach is unrefined and he swings and misses too much. McCormick has the arm to remain at shortstop but profiles as a third baseman as he’s an average runner who is expected to fill out to his 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame as he maximizes his power potential. The Beavers may never see McCormick on campus because he's considered the most signable of the state’s elite high school prospects.
Stanford-bound OF Joey August (9) is regarded as the toughest high school sign in Oregon. His lefthanded bat is his best tool. LHP Bryn Card (11) also ranks as virtually unsignable. A classic projection at 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds, he isn’t ready for pro ball yet with a fastball that tops out at 86 mph, but he could be an interesting player after three years at Oregon State. He has the same feel for pitching, body type, mechanics and stuff that tempted Northwest scouts to consider British Columbia high school lefthander Jeff Francis several years ago. No one pulled the trigger and Francis became the Rockies' first-round pick three years later and now is one of this year’s best rookies.
Oregon junior colleges play in the same conference that Washington schools have taken by storm this spring, but it has none of the same caliber of prospects. All the top Oregon players are pitchers and none is under control. RHP Clay Mortensen (8) is the best, a possible eighth- to 12th-rounder. Long and loose, he has a better body, delivery and arm than his peers and is more projectable. He has three workable pitches, including an average fastball.