State Report: Nebraska

Down year for colleges means down year for Cornhusker State

See also: Baseball America's Complete 2010 Draft Map

***** One for the books
**** Banner year
*** Solid, not spectacular
** Not up to par
* Nothing to see here
It's a down year in the Cornhusker State. Nebraska and Creighton both missed the NCAA playoffs for the second consecutive season and won just 27 games each. Their top prospects also disappointed, as Cornhuskers lefthander Mike Nesseth had Tommy John surgery and slick-fielding Bluejays shortstop Elliott Soto didn't ease any of the concerns about his bat. Nebraska City lefthander Logan Ehlers is the only high school prospect with a chance to get drafted.




1. Logan Ehlers, lhp, Nebraska City HS
2. Mike Nesseth, rhp, Nebraska
3. Michael Mariot, rhp, Nebraska
4. Elliott Soto, ss, Creighton
5. Adam Bailey, of, Nebraska
6. Sean Yost, rhp, Nebraska
7. Robbie Knight, of, Creighton
8. D.J. Belfonte, of, Nebraska
9. Maxx Catapano, rhp, Bellevue
10. Ryan Hughes, lhp, Nebraska


Ehlers Sets Whiff Mark

Logan Ehlers set what is believed to be a Nebraska high school record with 186 strikeouts in 78 innings this spring. A 6-foot-2, 200-pound lefthander, he usually pitches from 87-91 mph with his fastball, and his curveball may be his best pitch. He has more command and polish than most high school lefties, and combined with his stuff he should go in the top 10 rounds if he's signable away from a Nebraska commitment.

Scouts have been interested in righthander Mike Nesseth since he showed a 92-95 mph fastball and peaked at 97 as a redshirt freshman reliever in 2008, but now they'll have to factor in his comeback from elbow surgery. Nesseth struggled trying to make the transition to the rotation in 2009, with his stuff and control regressing, and he turned down the Angels as a 15th-round pick. He threw 91-94 mph out of the bullpen early this spring, and after his velocity dipped to the high 80s, an MRI revealed ligament damage in his elbow that required Tommy John surgery. Besides his fastball, his other asset is his 6-foot-6, 226-pound frame, which allows him to work downhill. His slider and command still need work, and he may want to sign and finish his rehab in pro ball because he's already 22.

In Nesseth's absence, righthander Michael Mariot became the best pitching prospect on the Cornhuskers. He has a 91-92 mph fastball that tops out at 94, though it's fairly straight and hittable. He also has an effective curveball and decent changeup, and he does a good job of throwing strikes and competing. Though he's just 6 feet and 195 pounds, he showed his durability by pitching into the seventh inning in each of his final 12 starts.

Elliott Soto is one of the best defensive shortstops in the draft, with plus range, hands and arm strength. He can make any throw from any angle, and he can make the routine plays as well as the spectacular. But scouts don't have much faith in his bat. The 5-foot-9, 155-pound Soto lacks strength and hit .194/.268/.218 with wood bats in the Cape Cod League last summer and .297/.388/.431 with metal this spring. He's an average runner, so almost all of his contributions are going to come on defense.

Adam Bailey began his college career as a pitcher at Arizona State and played both ways at South Mountain (Ariz.) CC before becoming predominantly an outfielder at Nebraska. A 6-foot-1, 201-pounder, he offers bat speed and lefthanded power. He led the Cornhuskers with 12 homers in 2009 and 18 this spring, though he sometimes struggles against good velocity. Bailey has arm strength, but his lack of speed likely will relegate him to left field as a pro.