2005 Draft Scouting Reports: Missouri
By Jim Callis
(National ranking in parentheses)
1. NICK WEBBER, rhp (National rank 92)
School: Central Missouri State.
Hometown: Lee's Summit, Mo.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-7. Wt.: 210. Birthdate: May 9, 1984.
Previously Drafted: Never.
Scouting Report: Webber is the closer on a dominant Central Missouri State staff that set an NCAA Division II record with 15 shutouts this year. The Mules could have as many as five pitchers taken in the first 15 rounds, with Webber going ahead of Danny Powers, Mike Phelps, Josh Outman and Jason Schutt. He has one of the best fastballs in the draft. It sits at 91-94 mph and touches 96, and it stands out even more with its outstanding life. One observer said it had "Wiffle ball movement" last summer in the Cape Cod League. Webber's second pitch is a decent slider, which he commands well but lacks a sharp break. As a pro, he may need to scrap the slider in favor of a splitter. He posted a 0.49 ERA in his first 37 innings, as opponents managed to bat just .099 with two extra-base hits. Webber has the strong body and resilience to try starting as a pro, but he has pitched almost exclusively in relief at Central Missouri State and may remain in that role. He hasn't thrown a changeup, which he'd need to move into a rotation.
2. DANNY POWERS, rhp (National rank: 184)
OTHERS TO WATCH
(Numbers in parentheses indicate rank in Missouri)
Beyond Webber and Powers, Central Missouri State has three more pitchers who'll go in the early rounds. Sophomore-eligible RHP Mike Phelps (4) had a scary beginning to his season, getting hit in the head by a throw from his catcher in the Mules' opener and missing five weeks with a fractured skull. He couldn't crack the deep rotation once he returned and is considered a tough sign because he could be an early pick if he returns and has a healthy 2006. He's the least refined of Central Missouri State's pitching prospects, but Phelps is projectable (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) and has three pitches that have the potential to be at least average: a 90-91 mph fastball, a slider and a changeup. His changeup may be his best present pitch, as he commands it better than his fastball.
When LHP Josh Outman (7) was at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park--where current Mules head coach Darin Hendrickson was coach for Outman's freshman season--scouts said he had the most unorthodox delivery they had ever seen. With a fastball clocked at 86-88 mph, Outman tied for the Division II national juco lead with 110 strikeouts in 100 innings. Central Missouri State has remade his arm action, and he has gained 5 mph on his fastball. He's still unpolished and needs to further refine his slider. Outman also has hit .345 and shown impressive bat speed as a part-time outfielder.
Clubs passed on OF James Boone (3) when he was a draft-eligible sophomore in 2004, and now he has blossomed into the state's top position player. He's a switch-hitting center fielder with power, speed and arm strength. He may need time to hit with wood bats, however, as he swings and misses too much, especially as a righthanded hitter. A pinched nerve in his back sidelined him for a couple of weeks and slowed him down the stretch.
RHP Aaron Shafer (5) has been up and down all spring, partly because he spent the winter playing basketball and has started at shortstop when he's not on the mound. Once he focuses full-time on pitching, he could take off. At 6-foot-4 and 189 pounds he has a lively 90-91 mph fastball and a good curveball when he's on. He's also not afraid to pitch inside. If he doesn't turn pro, he could develop nicely at Wichita State.
RHP David Phelps (6), Mike's younger brother, may be unsignable because he has committed to Notre Dame. Phelps looked great last summer, sitting at 88-92 mph and touching 93-94 with his four-seam fastball, showing nice sink on his two-seamer and throwing a good curveball. He has shown that stuff only sporadically this spring and needs to put more weight on his 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame.
OF Blake Tekotte (9) is the state's top prep hitter, but he probably won't be drafted high after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while playing quarterback for Hickman High last fall. Though his knee is only at 80 percent, he has played baseball this spring. One scout calls him a shorter version of Blake DeWitt, a Dodgers first-round pick out of Missouri's high school ranks in 2004, albeit with less power and arm. Tekotte seems certain to attend Miami.
The real gem on Missouri's pitching staff is Max Scherzer, but RHPs Doug Mathis (10) and Andrew Johnston (11) will get a look this June. Drafted twice out Central Arizona Junior College, Mathis has pitched better as a reliever than as a starter this spring. He has an 88-91 mph fastball and is effective when he throws his slider and curveball for strikes. Johnston is mainly a one-pitch guy, but that one pitch is a nasty sinker that has been clocked as high as 94 mph. He's a 6-foot-5, 215-pounder who's tough to pick up from his low three-quarters arm slot. Though he's just 5-foot-10 and 142 pounds, LHP Taylor Parker (18) has thrived as co-closer with Johnston thanks to a tremendous curveball, lots of savvy and the ability to locate his 88-89 mph fastball.
After current Cardinals star Albert Pujols slipped through the cracks and went in the 13th round in 1999, scouts want to make sure they don't make the same mistake with his cousin. But they had a hard time seeing OF Will Pujols (16) at Fort Osage High (Albert's alma mater) this spring because he had arthroscopic knee surgery and got a late start. Will isn't a top prospect yet, but he's a strong 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds and bears some resemblance to Albert. His bloodlines won't be ignored, and he'll at least be a draft-and-follow. Pujols has committed to Maple Woods Community College, which was Albert's next step on his path to stardom.
A former Cardinals star also has a relative who'll be drafted out of a Missouri high school this June. OF Scott Van Slyke (12), the son of Andy, likely will head to Mississippi rather than sign. He could be an early pick in three years, once he strengthens his 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame and shortens his swing. He has good actions and all-around athleticism. His older brother Scott, a University of Kansas outfielder, should be drafted this year as well.
The Phelps' aren't the only Missouri brother combo in the draft. RHP Scott Turmail (13) has a projectable 6-foot-4, 170-pound frame and a clean arm action. His fastball ranges from 85-91 mph and he could develop into a quality prospect at Long Beach State. RHP Kevin Turmail (15), who's under control to the Marlins as a 26th-round pick from 2004, has a similar build (6-foot-4, 190) and is a sinker/slider pitcher. He usually works at 88-89 and will pitch at Central Missouri State if he doesn't sign.
Maple Woods has another slugging third baseman. Jake Blackwood (14) isn't the next Albert Pujols, but he does rank second among national juco players with 19 homers. He has a strong arm but hasn't been effective when he has taken the mound.