Scouting Reports: Oregon

2007 MLB Draft Scouts in the Pacific Northwest frequently have Oregon, Washington and Northern California in their coverage area. It's a vast geographic expanse, and it makes finding a consensus difficult.

Scouts generally have to choose early who they are going to bear down on, who they will follow closely and try to get crosschecked.
*****One for the books
****Banner year
***Solid, not spectacular
**Not up to par
*Nothing to see here
Oregon State has had enough talent the last few years to make it a magnet for crosscheckers, leading to falling stock for Mitch Canham and Darwin Barney and rising stock for Beavers closer Eddie Kunz.

National Top 200 Prospects

1. Mitch Canham, c, Oregon State
2. Eddie Kunz, rhp, Oregon State

Other Prospects Of Note

3. Darwin Barney, ss, Oregon State
4. Mike Stutes, rhp, Oregon State
5. Daniel Turpen, rhp, Oregon State
6. Joe Patterson, lhp, Oregon State
7. Joey Mahalic, rhp, Wilson HS, Portland, Ore.
8. Chris Vitus, rhp, Sheldon HS, Eugene, Ore.
9. Given Kutz, rhp, Portland
10. Brandon Hayes, of/lhp, Sheldon HS, Eugene, Ore.
11. Jordan Lennerton, 1b, Oregon State
12. Kyle Farrell, rhp/of, West HS, Salem, Ore.
13. Brandon Hayes, of, Sheldon HS, Eugene, Ore.
14. Alex Besaw, rhp, Sheldon HS, Eugene, Ore.
15. Nick Stiltner, c, Marist Catholic HS, Eugene, Ore.
16. Anton Maxwell, lhp, Oregon State
17. Mike Lissman, of, Oregon State
18. David Gruener, lhp, Portland
19. Ari Ronick, lhp, Portland
20. Chris Hopkins, of, Oregon State

Scouting Reports

1. Mitch Canham, c (National rank: 53)
School: Oregon State. Class: Jr.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 212. Birthdate: 9/25/84.
Scouting Report: Most scouts probably prefer Canham's baseball talent to his hip-hop credentials, but he may be the most accomplished rapper in draft history. His "O-State Ballaz" (born at a 2005 charity event) set the stage for Oregon State's national championship run in 2006, and he penned "Still Ballin' " for 2007. Draft-eligible as a sophomore last year, Canham hit .299 with seven homers and fell to Cardinals in the 41st round. His bat has been his best tool throughout his career, and he made marked improvement this spring, building off an outstanding summer (.300, four homers) in the Cape Cod League. Canham's athleticism helps him repeat his short lefthanded stroke, he has solid-average power and he runs above-average for a catcher. Defense remains his nemesis. He improved his throwing and has handled excellent pitching staffs in three seasons with the Beavers, but scouts still grade his catch-and-throw skills as below-average. His makeup and leadership profile well behind the plate, however. He overcame adversity that might have sidelined other players, as his mother died of a drug overdose on Canham's first day of class as a freshman.

2. Eddie Kunz, rhp (National rank: 89)
School: Oregon State. Class: Jr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-5. Wt.: 250. Birthdate: 4/8/86.
Scouting Report: Kunz will get drafted in the first three rounds and could move quickly as a college reliever with a plus fastball. He was a set-up man for the Beavers' 2006 national championship team and has replaced the departed Kevin Gunderson as the team's closer in 2007. While Gunderson thrived on command, lefthanded funk and moxie, Kunz has plus stuff and closer-quality velocity. He's a behemoth at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, and will have to watch his body and his weight as a pro. His loose arm and low arm angle produce 94-96 mph fastballs, and some scouts think a cleaner body and more consistent mechanics would give him even more velo. Kunz throws a changeup to lefthanders that's effective, and at times his change is ahead of his flat slider.

Tough Encore For Beavers

Oregon State's improbable 2006 national championship run almost had a disappointing sequel, as the Beavers lost four Pacific-10 Conference series and nearly missed out on an NCAA tournament bid, but winning 38 games after losing such stalwarts as Dallas Buck, Cole Gillespie, Kevin Gunderson and Jonah Nickerson actually looks pretty good. The Beavers will lose two more this spring, as three-year starters Canham and Darwin Barney figure to sign. Barney hasn't quite been himself this spring, falling out of consensus top 200 consideration due to defensive lapses and a tendency to swing for the fences at the plate. He profiles as a future utility player as he lacks the power or offensive consistency to be an everyday middle infielder. His savvy has overcome his modest physical tools in the past; his best tool is his speed, as he's a 6.7-second runner. The other position players on Oregon State likely to get picked include solid lefty bats Jordan Lennerton and Mike Lissman, with Lennerton the better hitter, and speedy 19-year-old junior center fielder Chris Hopkins.

The Beavers' biggest draft impact will come in recruiting, as their national class includes potential top picks such as Tim Alderson (Arizona), Greg Peavy (Washington) and Tanner Robles (Utah)--the highest-ranked prep pitchers in three Western states. There should be innings available, as most of the Beavers' top pitchers this year should be drafted in the first 10 rounds. Besides hard-throwing closer Kunz, righty Mike Stutes could fit into the first five rounds, as he emerged and thrived in the Friday night ace role. Stutes pitches off a fastball that consistently sits in the 90-91 mph range, and he holds his velocity up to 100 pitches regularly. His curveball, at times his strikeout pitch, remains inconsistent, and he doesn't throw his decent changeup enough. His slider is a distant fourth pitch. At times he loses the feel for changing speeds and falls into pitch patterns, but the equipment is there for Stutes to be a big league fourth or fifth starter.

Most of the rest of the Beavers' staff profiles better as relievers. Lefty Anton Maxwell throws 88-90 mph and has shown some ability to spin a breaking ball in shorter stints. Fellow southpaw Joe Paterson surpassed him in the rotation and was leading the team in innings, working off an 84-88 mph fastball, solid changeup and fringy slider. If the slider tightens up, Paterson will be a lefty set-up man because he throws closer to 90 mph as a reliever. The movement on his fastball and changeup and his durability make him an attractive option as a starter, though, even with less velocity. Righty Daniel Turpen is the hardest thrower of the trio, using a lower arm slot to generate 90-92 mph sinkers that get lots of groundballs. His slider is sweepy and more of a groundball than strikeout pitch, and his changeup is fringy, making him a set-up candidate.

Portland won just 21 games, but that was the most in five seasons for the Pilots, who finally made their baseball coaches full-time this year. The Pilots' best prospect is righthander Given Kutz, a physical righthander who gets a good downhill plane on all his pitches and has fringe-average stuff--fastball, slider and curveball. When he's right, he gives hitters comfortable 0-for-4s, and he was expected to come off the board in the first 10-15 rounds.

Oregon's high schools were not considered fertile ground this spring, aside from Eugene's Sheldon High, which ranked in the top five in the state all year as a team and had three Oregon State signees on the roster. Sheldon's top player was righthander Chris Vitus, with a good pro body at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, and power arm, with a fastball in the high 80s that touches the low 90s coming from a clean, easy delivery and arm action. Brandon Hayes, the nephew of ex-big leaguer Von, has a smooth lefthanded swing with power potential, though he lacks his uncle's premium athleticism. Alex Besaw, a three-sport athlete, hit 89 early this year and played shortstop for Sheldon. All three are considered better bets to go to school than to sign.

The most draftable player in the state's prep ranks appeared to be righthander Joey Mahalic, who gave up football to focus on baseball this spring and came on strong as the season went on. He pitched well in a tournament against nationally ranked Brophy Prep of Phoenix, and was sitting 87-91 mph and touching 92 regularly down the stretch. His athleticism and fairly easy mechanics were additional pluses.