Scouting Reports: Kansas

2007 MLB Draft Wichita State usually dominates our Kansas list, though not usually to this extent. Four of the top five players in the state are Shockers, and if Johnson County Community College righthander Justin Miller's high school hadn't messed up his core classes, he would have attended Wichita State as well.

*****One for the books
****Banner year
***Solid, not spectacular
**Not up to par
*Nothing to see here
Kansas' top high school prospect (catcher Derek Norris) and next-best unsigned junior college player (righthander Tyler Fleming) are part of the Shockers' recruiting class.

National Top 200 Prospects

1. Travis Banwart, rhp, Wichita State
2. Justin Miller, rhp, Johnson County (Kan.) CC
3. Matt Brown, of, Wichita State

Other Prospects Of Note

4. Damon Sublett, 2b/rhp, Wichita State
5. Noah Krol, rhp, Wichita State
6. Derek Norris, c, Goddard (Kan.) HS
7. Zack Murry, ss, Neosho County (Kan.) CC (SIGNED: Rockies)
8. Tyler Fleming, rhp, Cowley County (Kan.) CC (CONTROL: Rangers)
9. Jacob Diekman, lhp, Cloud County (Kan.) CC
10. Rob Musgrave, lhp, Wichita State
11. Justin Otto, rhp, Cowley County (Kan.) CC
12. Erik Morrison, ss, Kansas
13. Matthew Page, rhp, Shawnee Mission (Kan.) Northwest HS
14. Daniel Edwards, rhp, Kansas State
15. Zach Ashwood, lhp, Kansas
16. Nick Cobler, lhp, Butler (Kan.) CC
17. Derek Schermerhorn, 1b, Wichita State
18. Tyler Weber, c, Wichita State
19. Kyle Touchatt, rhp, Wichita State
20. Dorian Williams, of, Olathe (Kan.) East HS

Scouting Reports

1. Travis Banwart, rhp (National rank: 86)
School: Wichita State. Class: Jr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 205. Birthdate: 2/14/86.
Scouting Report: Banwart doesn't have the wow stuff of former Wichita State studs Darren Dreifort, Braden Looper or Mike Pelfrey, but his feel for pitching is among the best in the draft. His changeup is his lone plus pitch, but his ability to locate four pitches where he wants makes him effective against lefthanded and righthanded hitters. Strong and durable at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, he maintains his 88-91 mph velocity throughout a game. He also uses both a curveball and a slider. Banwart has performed well in front of scouts, earning all-star honors in the Cape Cod League last summer and outdueling likely top-five pick Ross Detwiler with seven shutout innings in mid-April. Banwart won't ever be more than a mid-rotation starter in the big leagues, but he could get there quickly and likely won't last past the third round.

2. Justin Miller, rhp (National rank: 159)
School: Johnson County (Kan.) CC. Class: Fr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-3. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 8/2/87.
Scouting Report: One of the nation's best junior college players who's not under control to a big league team from the 2006 draft, Miller offers high risk and a potential high reward. He's a risk because teams didn't get to see him pitch much this spring, just 18 innings because he doubled as Johnson County's right fielder and he came down with a tender arm in mid-April. Miller pitched just once afterward, a two-inning stint in which his fastball parked at 90 mph and he didn't throw a slider. Yet he's intriguing because he's a projectable 6-foot-3, 180-pound athlete whose fastball went from 86-87 mph as a high school senior to 88-90 last summer to regularly touching 92-94 earlier this spring. He also showed a mid-80s slider that was inconsistent yet promising. He's not polished and looks like a position player trying to pitch, but the raw material obviously is there. Miller committed to attend Wichita State, but a snafu with his core classes in high school prevented him from joining the Shockers. As a nonqualifier, he can't go to a four-year school until he receives his juco degree, and thus is considered very signable. Few teams got enough good looks to feel comfortable taking Miller as high as his ceiling would warrant, but he still could go in the first five rounds.

3. Matt Brown, of (National rank: 184)
School: Wichita State. Class: Jr.
B-T: L-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 190. Birthdate: 2/21/85.
Scouting Report: Brown had a great summer with wood bats in 2006, ranking as the top position-player prospect in the Jayhawk League after leading the league in homers (nine) and RBIs (36) while finishing third in the batting race (.385). He offers one of the best all-around packages among college position players in this draft, showing all five tools when he's at his best. He's a 6-foot-1, 190-pound right fielder with bat speed, foot speed and arm strength, and he draws praise for playing hard every day. That all-out approach carries over to the plate, however, and can work against him. He has a long, maximum-effort stroke that leaves him susceptible to pitchers who change speeds. Some scouts worry about how that approach will play in pro ball, but a club that believes it can tone him down at the plate could pop him as early as the third round.

Minor Injuries Keep Sublett Off Mound

Damon Sublett had starred as a two-way player, though the majority of scouts liked him better as a righthanded pitcher than as a second baseman coming into 2007. He had a herky-jerky delivery, but it produced a 91-93 mph fastball and a hard curveball. Throw in his tenacity, and in his first two seasons at Wichita State, Sublett pitched 32 innings without allowing a run while also racking up 54 strikeouts. He reminded some Missouri Valley Conference observers of Shaun Marcum, a star closer/infielder at Missouri State before reaching the majors as a pitcher with the Blue Jays. But Sublett has made just five pitching appearances totaling four innings this spring. He fell on ice and strained his back early in the season, followed by a strained knee ligament, shoulder tightness and a strained hamstring.

Sublett, who played through a broken hamate bone in his right wrist and mononucleosis last year, has been able to play regularly at second base. As with his pitching, he doesn't always look pretty, but he more than gets the job done offensively and defensively. His swing isn't textbook, but he projects as an offensive second baseman with decent pop and plus speed. He also has has soft hands on defense. Sublett is more likely to get picked as a second baseman than a righthander after this spring.

Another two-way player at Wichita State, righthander Noah Krol started at shortstop last year but lost his job to Josh Workman this spring. He replaced Sublett as closer and was untouchable for most of the season until blowing leads in the MVC tournament championship game and in the Shockers' regional opener. A senior who spent two seasons at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, Krol has a fastball that sits around 90 mph and a plus slider. That combination earned him Scot Shields comparisons when Krol starred in the Jayhawk League last summer.

It's the worst year in recent memory for Kansas high school players. The best of the crop, catcher Derek Norris, got off to a slow start after an overthrow hit him in the head while he was sitting in the dugout. His offensive is ahead of his defense at this point, as he has a lot of power in his 6-foot-1, 220-pound frame. He has enough arm and agility to get the job done behind the plate. He just needs more work as a catcher after playing third base for three years on Goddard teams that included catchers Tyler Weber (now at Wichita State) and Adam Hull (Penn State). Norris could succeed Weber as the Shockers' catcher next year, as Weber could get drafted after showing increased pop and throwing out 41 percent of basestealers this spring.

Shortstop Zack Murry played for his father Steve, the head coach at Neosho County (Kan.) Community College, this spring and finished among the national juco leaders with a .447 average and 30 steals. He'll probably be more of an offensive second baseman in pro ball, but he hits lefthanded, has good instincts and has some speed and pop. He signed with the Rockies as a 19th-round draft-and-follow.

Righthander Tyler Fleming was the best prospect on a Cowley County team that advanced to the Junior College World Series. He's a sinker/slider pitcher who throws at 88-91 mph and is still growing into his 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame. A 20th-round pick of the Rangers last June, he didn't sign as a draft-and-follow. He'll attend Wichita State if he doesn't turn pro.

Jacob Diekman is a projectable 6-foot-4, 190-pound lefthander who flashed low-90s velocity and a decent slider this spring. He's still inconsistent with the quality of his stuff and his command, but he'll be picked in 2007, and he'll play at Nebraska next year if he doesn’t sign.

Lefthander Rob Musgrave set a state high school record with 459 strikeouts, but he's not overpowering. After three years at Wichita State, he's still throwing in the mid-80s. He does have the ability to locate his pitches wherever he wants, and his changeup and curveball are solid pitches.