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Baseball America Online - College

Regional Scouting Report: West

By Allan Simpson
May 20, 2003

Click a region to jump directly to its report:
Alaska | Arizona | Colorado | Hawaii | Idaho | Montana | Nevada | New Mexico | Oregon | Utah | Washington | Wyoming

Each state or area is graded on a five-star scale, with one star indicating a particularly weak crop and five stars a particularly strong one. The ratings are based on the level of talent a place generally produces, so Southern California isn't graded on the same scale as Alaska.

WASHINGTON **

Washington has been a steady talent producer in recent years, notably in 1999 when the state produced 11 picks in the first two rounds. This year there might not be a single pick in the first two rounds. The talent level was marginal anyway and took a hit when Gonzaga lefthander Errol Simonitsch, the state's top-rated college pitching prospect entering the season, went down with a season-ending arm injury, and Enumclaw High righthander Ryan Smith, the top prep pitcher, discovered he has liver cancer. The University of Washington, one of the most tools-heavy college teams in the nation, expects to have eight or nine players drafted, but none in the top five rounds.

1. Erik O'Flaherty, lhp, Walla Walla HS
2. Colin Curtis, of, Issaquah HS, Sammamish
3. Richie Lentz, rhp, Woodinville HS
4. Kyle Kendrick, rhp, Mt. Vernon HS
5. Sean White, rhp, Washington
6. Tim Lincecum, rhp, Liberty HS, Issaquah
7. Wayne Daman, rhp, Forks HS
8. Eric Rodland, 2b, Gonzaga
9. Mike Wagner, of, Washington
10. Kyle Parker, rhp, West Valley HS, Yakima
11. Errol Simonitsch, lhp, Gonzaga
12. Jeff Petersen, rhp, Washington
13. Brian Carter, lhp, Washington
14. Evan Meek, rhp, Bellevue CC (CONTROL: Twins)
15. Ryan Smith, rhp, Enumclaw HS
16. Roy Friesen, rhp, Columbia Basin JC
17. Andy Myette, rhp, Lower Columbia JC (CONTROL: Rangers)
18. Eric Dworkis, rhp, Gonzaga
19. Andy Hill, rhp, Brewster HS
20. Travis Webb, lhp/1b, Lewis & Clark HS, Spokane
21. Chad Boudon, of, Washington
22. Tila Reynolds, ss, Washington
23. Matt Lane, c, Port Angeles HS
24. Billy Boyer, 3b, Enumclaw HS
25. Tyler Mach, ss, Kentake HS, Kent
26. Kyle Aselton, lhp, Lower Columbia JC
27. Andre Piper-Jordan, of, Federal Way HS
28. Russ Petrick, lhp, Bellevue CC (CONTROL: Orioles)
29. Bryan Yates, 3b, Eastlake HS, Sammamish
30. J.T. Zink, of/rhp, Curtis HS, University Place
31. Ryan Snell, rhp, Skyline HS, Issaquah
32. Mike Wagner, rhp, Redmond HS
33. Andre Piper-Jordan, of, Federal Way HS

Projected First-Round Picks
None

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks

Erik O'Flaherty, lhp
O'Flaherty put himself on the map last fall at the Arizona Fall Classic in Peoria, Ariz., where his fastball touched 93 mph. Scouts haven't seen the same velocity this spring. It was down to 86 at one point, but he's since returned to 89-91, touched 92 and held it for seven innings. His arm action may need tinkering but he has a feel for a breaking ball. O'Flaherty was talked up in March as a possible second- or third-rounder, but he's now likely to go a round or two lower. A commitment to Oregon State is not likely to alter that projection. The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder has a lanky, athletic frame that projects well.

Colin Curtis, of
Curtis has solid tools across the board, but his stock has fallen slightly this spring because of inconsistent performance and a left shoulder injury that has relegated him to a DH role. If he falls beyond the second round, signability becomes an issue as he has committed to Arizona State and has Scott Boras as an adviser. The 6-foot, 190-pound Curtis has a strong, muscular frame and his tools project well. He compares to Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds, as much for his all-out style as his ability. Curtis runs the 60-yard dash in 6.55 seconds, is an excellent defensive center fielder and an above-average hitter. He generates above-average bat speed. His arm is his weakest tool, though he's his high school team's best pitcher.

Richie Lentz, rhp
The Lentz name is a familiar one to Northwest scouts. In 1975, Mike was the second overall pick in the draft by the Padres. Five years ago, his son Ryan was a fifth-round pick of the Expos. Now comes a second son, Richie, who also has a strong chance of being drafted in the first five rounds. Lentz has the best arm strength in the state. His fastball has touched 94 mph. His slider also is an above-average pitch. While the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder is physically mature with a powerful lower half, scouts see a maximum-effort pitcher with a low ceiling. He may be the same pitcher in five years that he is now. Like his older brother, Ryan has committed to Washington and will be a tough sign if he slips significantly.

Kyle Kendrick, rhp
Kendrick projected as a possible early-round pick as a sophomore, but his stock slipped because of a subpar performance as a junior. A fastball that measured 84-86 mph last year, though, has returned to the low 90s. His 81 mph slider also has been effective pitch. The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Kendrick, also a top-rated quarterback in high school, is one of the state's best athletes and waited until April to sign with Washington State so he could keep open his option of playing both football and baseball in college. Had he signed with the Cougars in November in the NCAA's early signing period for baseball, he could not have played football for two years. Kendrick's athletic ability is superior to his arm action and feel for pitching at this point.

Others to Watch

If RHP Tim Lincecum wasn't 5-foot-9 and 140 pounds, he might be the state's best draft pick. He's been a subject of enormous curiosity among Northwest scouts this spring. No one has a greater feel for his craft or has his magical stuff. Lincecum has two above-average pitches: an 87-91 mph fastball and a hammer curveball. His arm is quick, and he delivers his pitches with clean mechanics and a minimum of effort. He's been unhittable at times, while averaging two strikeouts an inning. He's also a gamer and takes the ball every chance he can get; he threw 350 pitches in a one-week stretch earlier this year and routinely starts two games a week. Despite the heavy workload, Lincecum rarely loses his velocity and he's never had a sore arm. But he is what he is; there is little projection with him. While he thinks he's a first-rounder and his performance might warrant it, it's unlikely he'll be picked in the top five rounds. His likely path is to head to college at Washington, where he'll try to show he can dominate college hitters as he has high school ones.

• Emerging RHP Wayne Daman reminds area scouts of Brian Bruney, now a top prospect in the Diamondbacks organization. Bruney was from a small community in northwest Oregon, while Daman is from Forks, tucked away on the back side of the Washington peninsula. Like Bruney, a 12th-round pick in 2000, Daman is a big, strong farmboy with an unrefined, sandlot delivery and similar power stuff.

• RHP Ryan Smith was a possible first-rounder until doctors diagnosed carcinoid cancer and he had three feet of his small intestine removed, as well as his appendix, gall bladder and a part of his liver in early January. His baseball future is uncertain. Clocked at 92-93 mph last summer, Smith's velocity was 89 his first time out this year but gradually dipped to 84-86. His fastball hasn't shown the same life and doesn't hold its velocity as his illness sapped his strength. Smith has committed to Arizona State. His brother Trent, a sophomore catcher at Enumclaw High, projects as a top player for the 2005 draft.

• RHP Sean White was supposed to be the University of Washington's best prospect a year ago, but he slid to the 35th round amid questions about his medical record. White, who hasn't missed a start in two years, hasn't shown the same velocity as 2002, when he was clocked at 92 mph. But his sinking 88-89 mph fastball induces a lot of ground-ball outs and should work better against wood bats. Scouts expect the 6-foot-4, 205-pound senior to move quickly through the minor leagues.

• Six-foot-4, 210-pound RHP Jeff Petersen will get a shot at pro ball. So will 6-foot-5, 220-pound LHP Brian Carter, despite not performing well enough to crack the rotation at Washington. OF Mike Wagner has not swung the bat this spring like he did last summer, when he hit a league-high .342 and was MVP of the wood-bat New England Collegiate League. He's struggled to hit .300, though his speed, strength and athleticism all are attractive tools. OF Chad Boudon spent three undistinguished years at Hawaii, before transferring back home to Washington. Though he is below-average defensively and was used almost exclusively as a DH, Boudon has attracted attention for a school record-tying 19 home runs. SS Tila Reynolds may have blown his best chance in the draft in 2002 after hitting a team-high .342; he was selected in the 13th round by the Brewers. His average has slipped this season and he's seen now as more of an organization player.

• Six-foot-4, 200-pound LHP Errol Simonitsch has a pro body and loose arm action. He attracted early-round interest at the start of the year when his fastball touched 91, but he was sidelined in early April with shoulder tendinitis and didn't pitch again. That left 2B Eric Rodland as Gonzaga's best draft prospect. He broke out last summer in Alaska, hitting .423--almost 100 points better than the No. 2 batter in the Alaska League. He hasn't come close to that average this spring and scouts aren't sure why, because he has a fluid, repeatable lefthanded stroke. With a good walk/strikeout ratio, he profiles as a model leadoff hitter. Defensively, he's limited to second base, where he makes all the plays and had just two errors all season. Six-foot-5, 190-pound RHP Eric Dworkis qualifies for the draft by the slimmest of margins. His 21st birthday is July 17--one day before the age cutoff for college sophomores. He has enjoyed a solid season, going 7-4, 2.49 and leading the West Coast Conference in strikeouts.

• Including Lentz and Lincecum, Washington has a stranglehold on most of the significant in-state recruits. RHPs Kyle Parker, Andy Hill and Ryan Snell; C Matt Lane; and SSs Tyler Mach and Billy Boyer are all Husky recruits. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Parker has a good pitcher's frame and has been clocked up to 91 mph. Hill has rebounded after missing 2002 with Tommy John surgery. His velocity is below-average at 87-88, but he continues to get stronger. Snell topped out at 90 mph this spring. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Lane is a strong, lefthanded-hitting catcher with arm strength. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Mach can hit and has power potential; his defensive skills may be better suited for third base. Because he never attended showcase events last year, Boyer is not as well known as Ryan Smith, his high school teammate. He's athletic, can hit and is versatile enough to play almost any position.

• After a disappointing spring, 6-foot-4, 200-pound LHP/1B Travis Webb will likely end up at Arizona State, which also recruited Curtis and Smith. Webb is a legitimate two-way player who came out of basketball late and never regained the 90 mph velocity he flashed at the Area Code Games last summer. He peaked at 84 this spring.

• RHP Mike Wagner (not to be confused with the University of Washington's Mike Wagner) committed to Vanderbilt. A converted catcher, he has above-average arm strength.

• RHP/OF Greg Smith, possibly the top athlete among players being scouted in the Northwest, and OF Andre Piper-Jordan have both committed to play football at Eastern Washington, which doesn't have a baseball program.

• RHP Evan Meek is the state's top junior college prospect, but his stock has slipped as he's gained weight. Meek was drafted in the 11th round last year by the Twins and isn't likely to go as high if the Twins elect not to sign him. Meek rebounded from a slow start but never repeated the 95 mph velocity he showed in 2002 out of a suburban Seattle high school. LHP Russ Petrick, under control to the Orioles, doesn't throw as hard as Meek, his junior-college teammate, but has good command of three pitches.

• RHP Roy Friesen may have as much upside as any juco player in the state. A product of Wasilla, Alaska, Friesen touched 92 mph but doesn't throw strikes consistently--a by-product of limited coaching in the past.

• RHP Andy Myette is the younger brother of former big leaguer Aaron Myette, now in the Indians organization. He has a good feel for pitching, though his fastball ranges only 85-87 mph. Myette's teammate, 6-foot-4, 195-pound Kyle Aselton, is just about his opposite. He's lefthanded and has more velocity, up to 91, but is inconsistent and has little feel for his secondary pitches. Both Myette and Aselton are Oregon State recruits.

• SS Shea McFeely, also an Oregon State recruit, is the most heavily scouted position player in the Washington juco ranks. He hit more than .400--a significant feat considering he plays with wood.

OREGON ***

It's been nine years since Oregon produced its last first-round pick, and the drought should continue. Dallas Buck and Jordan Pratt are the most significant prospects the state has produced in a while, though neither is likely to move into the top round--particularly with more clubs reluctant to invest a lot of money in a high school arm. Oregon State has commitments from the top high school prospects in Washington (Erik O'Flaherty) and Oregon (Buck), though both are expected to be lost to the draft.

1. Dallas Buck, rhp, Newberg HS
2. Jordan Pratt, rhp, Central HS, Independence
3. Kory Casto, of, Portland
4. Seth Pietsch, of, Oregon State
5. Jeff Pry, rhp, Franklin HS, Portland
6. Levi Webber, 1b/of, Oregon State
7. Nathan Fogle, rhp, Mt. Hood CC
8. Kevin Skogley, lhp, Hermiston HS
9. Nick Colborn, rhp, Blue Mountain CC
10. Ben Rowe, rhp, Oregon State
11. James Allan, 1b/rhp, Barlow HS, Gresham
12. Michael Devaney, rhp, Concordia College
13. Jonah Nickerson, rhp, Oregon City HS
14. Andy Jarvis, 1b, Oregon State
15. Anthony Isabella, of, Chemeketa JC (CONTROL: Diamondbacks)

Projected First-Round Picks
None

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks

Dallas Buck, rhp
There's debate about whether Buck or the fast-rising Pratt will be drafted first. He's a better pitcher at this point than Pratt, though less projectable. Buck has a classic short, power-arm stroke like Roger Clemens. He gets good run on an 88-90 mph fastball that touches 92, and has an outstanding slider. His arm slot and breaking ball are inconsistent. Makeup is an issue with Buck, along with his desire to play football at Oregon State. He is eligible to play football and baseball as a freshman. Buck is a premium athlete and excelled in four sports in high school: baseball; football as a quarterback, defensive back and punter; basketball; and track as a long jumper and high jumper.

Jordan Pratt, rhp
Pratt emerged as a top prospect this spring when his fastball was clocked up to 92-94 mph. A year ago, it was in the 86-88 range. He also has a hammer curve, though the pitch is inconsistent. Scouts see greater upside in the longer, leaner Pratt than in Buck. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder dominated low-level competition in a rural part of the state this spring, and has excelled in football and basketball. Pratt has committed to Washington State, and scouts say he could be a first-rounder in three years. His chances of going to college may be slim, as he's viewed as more signable than Buck.

Others to Watch

Led by Buck and Pratt, all the top arms in Oregon are concentrated in high school and junior college, while the top hitters are found in the state's two Division I college programs.

• OF Kory Casto may be the best everyday prospect in the West Coast Conference, but he's drawn mixed interest. His only above-average tool is his bat. He's a disciplined lefthanded hitter who has holes in his swing and whose power is gap to gap.

• OF Seth Pietsch has a solid power/speed package, but scouts are wary of his 5-foot-10, 205-pound frame. He's exceptionally strong and generates excellent bat speed. A lack of instincts often negates his speed on the bases, he lacks a true position and his cocky attitude doesn't always endear him to teammates.

• Six-foot-5, 195-pound OF Levi Webber may have the best raw tools in the Northwest. They've never translated into success on the field, however, and he's played only sporadically in three years at Oregon State. Webber looks like Richie Sexson and shows exceptional power in batting practice, but rarely in games.

• Senior 1B Andy Jarvis also has superior power, but had only one home run midway through the year before heating up. His other tools are below-average.

• RHP Ben Rowe was expected to be a premium pick this year after he touched 92 last summer in the Cape Cod League. As his velocity backed off to 85-87 this spring, so did his stock. Rowe, who turned down $160,000 as an Australian high school player, will be one of the youngest college juniors ever drafted, at 19.

• Six-foot-3, 190-pound RHP Jeff Pry falls just short of Buck and Pratt in almost every area. His fastball ranges from 88-91 and has late sink; he shows a pro slider on occasion. He hasn't shown a good feel for pitching yet, has a labored delivery and has had occasional elbow problems. Pry has committed to Hawaii. LHP Kevin Skogley (Nevada-Las Vegas) and RHP James Allan (Washington) are other significant out-of-state recruits. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Skogley throws 85-86 mph now, but is projectable. Allan has no high-end tool, but is athletic and could be a two-way player in college.

• RHP Jonah Nickerson, an Oregon State recruit, could be a late draft. He has touched 90 and has a feel for a breaking ball. His 6-foot, 210-pound frame will hurt his chances.

• RHP Nathan Fogle is the state's best junior college player now that he has returned to his high school form after an injury.

ARIZONA ***

Though it may not have a player chosen in the first two rounds, Arizona State should have a big presence in the draft. The Sun Devils are expected to have at least 10, and possibly 12 or 13 players drafted. This should also be a good year for Arizona's rich junior college ranks.

1. Brian Anderson, of, Arizona
2. Brandon Wood, ss, Horizon HS, Scottsdale
3. Andre Ethier, of, Arizona State
4. Beau Vaughan, rhp, Arizona State
5. Josh Smith, rhp, Central Arizona JC
6. Ryan Schroyer, rhp, Arizona State
7. Billy Hogan, ss, Chandler-Gilbert JC
8. Richie Gardner, rhp, Arizona
9. Donald Veal, lhp, Buena Vista HS, Hereford
10. Mark Sopko, rhp, Arizona State
11. Matt Pagnozzi, c, Central Arizona JC
12. Bryan Opdyke, c, Catalina Foothills HS, Fort Mohave
13. Joe Little, lhp, Arizona
14. Luis Cota, rhp, Sunnyside HS, Tucson
15. Rod Allen, of, Arizona State
16. Devin Perrin, rhp, Grand Canyon College
17. Steve Garrabrants, 2b, Arizona State
18. Jason Urquidez, rhp, Central Arizona JC (CONTROL: Devil Rays)
19. Ladd Hall, rhp, Eastern Arizona JC (CONTROL: Astros)
20. Jim West, rhp, River Valley HS, Fort Mohave
21. Sean Rierson, rhp, Arizona
22. Jeremy West, c/dh, Arizona State
23. Ben Thurmond, rhp, Arizona State
24. Chris Marini, lhp/of, Glendale JC
25. Troy Butler, rhp, Page HS
26. Robbie McClellan, rhp, Arizona State
27. Bryce Kartler, lhp, Arizona State

Projected First-Round Picks

Brian Anderson, of
Anderson improved his draft worth as much as any player in the country. He was hardly on the radar at the start of the year after an injury-plagued 2002 season and is now knocking on the door of the first round. His numbers tell the story. A .275 hitter with five homers and six stolen bases in 2002, the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder raised his average more than 100 points while tripling his home run and stolen base totals. He was the best everyday player in the Pacific-10 Conference. Anderson worked closely with Wildcats coach Andy Lopez to revamp his swing and entire approach to hitting. The result has been better rhythm and bat speed. All other parts of his game have come together as well. He's a solid center fielder with above-average arm strength. He did not pitch this year after leading the Wildcats with four saves a year ago, though his fastball has been clocked as high as 94 mph. With his improved showing offensively, his performance has finally matched his considerable tools.

Brandon Wood, ss
As a high school freshman, Wood was so weak that a DH was used for his spot in the batting order. Wood answered all questions about his physique with an outstanding senior year. He went on a major conditioning program in the offseason and hit .518 with 20 home runs to lead Horizon High to a top 25 national ranking. His surge dramatically raised his profile as a draft pick, to a point that he is a candidate to move into the first round. He drives balls consistently now, the one missing ingredient in his game before this season. The Texas recruit always has been a slick-fielding shortstop. He has the hands and feet for the position and his arm works well.

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks

Andre Ethier, of
Ethier projects as a third- or fourth-round pick, but a team that saw him on the right day or values on-base percentage could bump him up to the second round. The Yankees, for one, have been on the 6-foot-3, 175-pound right fielder all season. Ethier works counts well, resulting in a 2-1 walk-strikeout ratio. He will have to fill out his slight frame for his other tools to mature; once they do, he could become a Shawn Green kind of player. A solid contact hitter now, his power will come down the road. He has good outfield instincts with an accurate arm, but will be limited to a corner position because below-average speed prevents him from playing center field.

Beau Vaughan, rhp
Arizona State could have seven or eight pitchers drafted, but the odds were long at the start of the season that the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Vaughan would be the first. Having attended South Mountain (Ariz.) JC, Phoenix JC and New Orleans, he is at his fourth school in four years. He's been eligible for the draft each year but hasn't been selected after getting drafted out of high school. Vaughan has been used in a variety of roles at ASU and been effective, leading the team in wins and strikeouts. He has mechanical flaws in his delivery and needs to tighten up some moving parts, but he has three pitches that grade out as average or better: a 90-92 mph fastball, an 82-84 slider and a plus-plus changeup. He'll be a high pick on merit, and being a senior might bump him into the top two or three rounds.

Josh Smith, rhp
Defending national junior college champion Central Arizona has seven players under control. The team's best raw talent, Smith, isn't one of them. He wasn't eligible for the 2002 draft because he was at Arizona State and had missed last season with Tommy John surgery after being a 20th-round pick of the Brewers in 2001 out of an Arizona high school. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Smith regained his arm strength and pitched at 92-96 mph this year, touching 97. He throws a two-seam fastball at 89-92. He has the makings of an above-average slider and backed off working on a curve to save his arm. He had a 1.65 ERA and averaged more than a strikeout an inning. He's more about stuff than polish at this point, but he's ready to compete at the pro level.

Ryan Schroyer, rhp
Schroyer has enjoyed considerable success as a closer in college and summer league competition, but scouts didn't see the velocity from him this spring that they've seen in the past. He still had a solid season, leading the Pac-10 in saves, but his fastball was in the 88-89 mph range, with a high of 92. The 6-foot-1, 216-pounder was up to 95-96 last summer, when he didn't allow an earned run in leading the Alaska Goldpanners to the National Baseball Congress World Series title. He has shown more polish this year and much better command of a cut fastball, curve, slider and changeup. Schroyer could fill any role in pro ball because of his pitch assortment, but he has the makeup to be a closer.

Others to Watch

• 2B Steve Garrabrants teamed with sophomore SS Dustin Pedroia to form the nation's best double-play combination this spring. Garrabrants is a grinder whose best tool is speed. He led the Sun Devils in stolen bases. His other tools are playable. He has sufficient bat speed to be dangerous at the plate and enough arm strength to either stay at second base or move to center field. OF Rod Allen, son of ex-big leaguer and current Tigers color analyst Rod Allen, was expected to be Arizona State's best draft prospect this year, but he had a disappointing season. He was relegated to a part-time role early in the season. He did have a pair of pinch-hit grand slams, but generally his bat was slow and he didn't make needed adjustments. He swung at bad pitches as he pressed, and he struggled defensively. C/1B Jeremy West has one marketable tool, plus power. He intrigues scouts because he isn't just a DH. He catches on occasion. Five-foot-11, 190-pound sophomore-eligible RHP Mark Sopko has limited upside, but he owns two solid pitches, his best being a 90-93 mph fastball. The remainder of Arizona State's large stable of pitchers are seniors. RHP Ben Thurmond experienced some of the same elbow tenderness that plagued him in 2002 at Winthrop, after he won 14 games and struck out 148 there as a sophomore. He's thrown well when he's pitched, mixing an 87-88 mph fastball with an outstanding changeup. RHP Robbie McClellan added 20 pounds in two years at ASU, and his fastball jumped to 90-91; 6-foot-2, 215-pound LHP Bryce Kartler also touches 90 and projects as a situational reliever; RHP Jered Liebeck will get a chance because he has an excellent changeup and locates his 86 mph fastball well.

• Six-foot-3, 185-pound RHP Richie Gardner, a junior-college transfer, has been the No. 1 starter at Arizona and a key component in the team's resurgence. He averaged more than a strikeout an inning and competes hard, but doesn't blow people away with his stuff: an 89-92 mph fastball with heavy sink and a changeup with split-finger action. LHP Joe Little has the stuff to pitch in pro ball, though his command is inconsistent. He has an easy arm action to go with four average pitches, including an 89-92 mph fastball, his best pitch when he's on his game. RHP Sean Rierson has an excellent hard slider, but his 87-88 mph fastball lacks the velocity to warrant his going before the 10th round.

• Six-foot-2, 180-poumd RHP Luis Cota generated a lot of late interest with a fastball clocked up to 96 mph.

• Six-foot-7, 215-pound senior RHP Devin Perrin is Grand Canyon's most draftable player. He has an average fastball and throws strikes more consistently with his offspeed stuff.

• If its draft-and-follows choose not to sign before the closed period and reenter the draft, Central Arizona could reach double-digits in players selected. RHP Jason Urquidez, drafted in the 48th round last year by the Devil Rays, was the dominant pitcher in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference, which switched to wood bats this year. An all-tournament player at the 2002 Junior College World Series and an Arizona State signee, Urquidez knows how to pitch and has three average pitches, including an 86-87 mph fastball that touches 90. He led Arizona juco players in wins and ERA this spring. Batterymate Matt Pagnozzi made remarkable strides after being passed over in last year's draft. He became a catcher comparable to his uncle Tom, a former defensive standout in the big leagues. He recorded a consistent 1.8-second pop time and matured physically. Bigger, faster and stronger, he hit .350 while leading his team in RBIs.

• SS Billy Hogan, a former Texas prep star, enrolled at Alabama last fall but transferred to Chandler-Gilbert JC after Christmas to make himself eligible for this year's draft. His decision has paid off as he's emerged as the state's best juco position player. He hit .414 with seven homers playing with wood, while showing easy shortstop actions.

• RHP Ladd Hall, under control to the Astros, has just an average fastball, but his 78-80 mph curveball was the best breaking ball in the state, and he topped junior college pitchers with 106 strikeouts in 76 innings.

• The jury is out on whether former Arizona LHP/OF Chris Marini projects better as a hitter or pitcher. He was superior on the mound in the fall and was a better hitter this spring.

• The Arizona high school ranks took a hit this spring when LHP Donald Veal and C Brian Opdyke did not have dominating seasons. Both were fourth- to fifth-round candidates entering the season. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Veal is projectable but was plagued by inconsistent velocity. His fastball dropped to the mid-80s before returning to a more customary 91-93 mph toward the end of the season. It might turn out to be too little, too late. A strong student, Veal committed to Arizona and it may take a big bonus to steer him to pro ball. Opdyke also is an Arizona recruit. He could end up going to college because he did not swing the bat as well as he did in the past. His offensive prowess a year ago led to his selection to Team USA's 2002 junior squad. His lefthanded power potential cannot be ignored but his catching skills need refinement. He also rankled scouts with a flashy, overconfident approach.

• RHP Jim West has a power arm, capable of touching 93 mph. His lack of command and a second pitch mean he's more likely to end up at Arizona State; he's the Sun Devils' top in-state high school recruit.

NEVADA ***

Nevada-Las Vegas, nationally ranked in Division I, and the Community College of Southern Nevada, one of the nation's top junior college teams, will both have a significant number of picks, but the attention at the top will be on the University of Nevada and the state's high school crop.

1. Mateo Miramontes, rhp, Nevada
2. Steve Lerud, c, Galena HS, Reno
3. Jordan Parraz, of/rhp, Green Valley HS, Henderson
4. Rejino Gonzalez, lhp, CC of Southern Nevada (CONTROL: Devil Rays)
5. Chris Dickerson, of, Nevada
6. Robbie Van, lhp, Nevada-Las Vegas
7. Ryan Braun, rhp, Nevada-Las Vegas
8. Wes Johnson, rhp, Silverado HS, Las Vegas
9. Brent Johnson, 3b/of, Nevada-Las Vegas
10. Patrick Dobson, of/3b, Nevada-Las Vegas
11. Eddie Bonine, rhp, Nevada
12. Eric Nielsen, of, Nevada-Las Vegas
13. Calvin Beamon, of, CC of Southern Nevada (CONTROL: Pirates)
14. Kyler Newby, rhp, Western HS, Las Vegas
15. Adam Lesko, rhp, Nevada-Las Vegas
16. Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3b, Nevada

Projected First-Round Picks
None

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks

Mateo Miramontes, rhp
Like Chad Qualls (second round, 2000) and Darrell Rasner (second round, 2002) before him, Miramontes is a strike thrower. He has four pitches he can locate, including a 91 mph fastball that should gain speed as he adds weight to his 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame. A power curve is his most dependable pitch. Miramontes was more consistent this year and shaved nearly two full runs off his ERA, while improving his record from 6-8 to 9-3.

Steve Lerud, c
With 21 homers this year, Lerud became Nevada's high school career home run record holder with 60. At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, he has legitimate power. He also hit .490. Lerud's receiving skills improved this year, but his arm and footwork are still rate slightly below-average. More strong than athletic, Lerud holds a black belt in tae-kwon-do. He also has a solid academic background and has signed with Santa Clara.

Jordan Parraz, rhp
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Parraz sparked late interest when his fastball was clocked at 92-95 mph and touched 98. He has no breaking ball or command yet to speak of, but his raw arm strength turned heads. Parraz is athletic and had been primarily an outfielder until this year. He can hit and hit with power, though his swing is a little long. He has been timed at 6.6 seconds over 60 yards. Teams might be concerned that Parraz still has a bolt in his elbow from a surgery he had during his freshman year. Parraz' brother Zeke, now at Georgia, stimulated interest a year ago at Southern Nevada.

Rejino Gonzalez, lhp
One of seven CCSN players under control, Gonzalez was expected to sign with the Devil Rays, who drafted the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder in the 46th round last year. It was the third time being drafted for Gonzalez, a third-year juco player who missed a year with an arm injury. His best pitch is an 89-92 mph fastball that occasionally ranges up to 94; his slider also is a plus pitch.

Chris Dickerson, of
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Dickerson is one of the bigger mysteries in the West. He has excellent tools--he's big and strong, an accomplished center fielder with arm strength, and an above-average runner--but hasn't hit since his freshman year. He hit a soft .242 with four homers this spring and was an easy target in the bottom third of Nevada's lineup. He hit .132 in the Cape Cod League last summer. Dickerson, whose Major League Scouting Bureau number of 56 (on a 20-80 scale) is the best in the state, was hurt last fall when he broke a rib diving for a ball. He lost instruction time and was slow getting out of the gate this spring. He has struggled to get his swing going again after hitting .317 with 11 homers as a freshman. Dickerson is projectable and should be a better pro than college player, but his poor performance over the last year will hurt him.

Others to Watch

• LHP Robbie Van posted a 1.01 ERA and averaged 12 strikeouts per nine innings last summer in a dominant Cape Cod League performance. He was slow to regain that form this spring. His velocity, up to 91 mph on the Cape, dipped to 85-87 as he struggled to gain command of his pitches. His curveball, his best pitch, showed flashes of returning to form. Van should be the best of resurgent UNLV's draft picks, two of whom have famous fathers. 3B Brent Johnson and OF Patrick Dobson enhanced their stock when they switched positions. Johnson is UNLV's leading hitter. He's the prototypical jack of all trades, master of none. An above-average arm makes him well suited for third. Dobson, the son of Kevin Dobson of "Kojak" and "Knots Landing" fame, struggled at third which led to his moving to center field. Athletic at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Dobson is a good hitter with average speed and arm strength, but his true power potential is difficult to gauge. Five-foot-11, 230-pound 1B Fernando Valenzuela Jr. led UNLV in homers and RBIs and had not committed an error all season, but he has his father's body. His power doesn't project to pro ball and he's limited to first base. RHPs Adam Lesko and Ryan Braun have both been clocked in the mid-90s, and that alone warrants significant interest. Lesko was banged around because he has little feel for pitching, but he has the makings of three above-average pitches. Braun's fastball has been as high as 97, and he complemented it with two other power pitches, an 84-85 mph slider and a hard curve with depth. Braun transferred to UNLV from Wake Forest for his senior year and fit in well as a closer, averaging 15.0 strikeouts per nine innings to go with seven saves.

• RHP Eddie Bonine and 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff transferred to Nevada to gain exposure after not being drafted as juniors. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Bonine, who played at Washington State last year, has four pitches, including an upper-80s fastball that touches 93. Kouzmanoff, whose father Mel played for the NFL's Chicago Bears, hit .364-8-59 in 2002 at Arkansas-Little Rock. He was on pace to top all those numbers and led the Western Athletic Conference in homers and RBIs.

• RHP Wes Johnson is the best pitching prospect in the traditionally strong Las Vegas high school ranks. He has good arm speed and his best pitch is an 88-91 mph fastball.

• RHP Kyler Newby surfaced this spring throwing 91-92 mph fastballs.

• OF Calvin Beamon, a Colorado product under control to the Pirates, may turn out to be the best player in the short but successful history of the Southern Nevada program. He has all the tools, especially speed and an outstanding arm.

UTAH ***

Former big league lefty Bruce Hurst, drafted by the Red Sox in 1976, is the only Utah high school player drafted in the first round. Aaron Jensen, the best prep pitcher the state has produced in years, has an outside chance of joining him. After him, the talent falls off rapidly.

1. Aaron Jensen, rhp, Springville HS
2. Chris Hunter, rhp, Utah Valley State JC (CONTROL: Angels)
3. Jason Ward, rhp, Utah Valley State JC (CONTROL: Royals)
4. Chad Barben, rhp, Taylorsville HS
5. Zachary Stott, rhp, Dixie State JC
6. Clay Westmoreland, rhp, Utah
7. Matt Elliott, rhp, Dixie State JC (CONTROL: Cardinals)
8. Kainoa Obrey, 3b, Brigham Young
9. Sean Overholt, rhp, Utah
10. Drew Larsen, 3b, Salt Lake CC

Projected First-Round Picks

Aaron Jensen, rhp
The Astros took Cedar City RHP Mitch Talbot in the second round last year, and scouts say Jensen is much more polished. He has been a man among boys in Utah and overpowered high school hitters with a 92-94 mph fastball and a hard curve that acts like a slider. He has a quick arm and is mature beyond his years. At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, he's almost fully developed. Jensen never played baseball in the summer and fall because of football, but it's all baseball from this point.

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks
None

Others to Watch

• A year after the Cardinals signed Utah Valley State JC RHP Shane Reedy to a $500,000 bonus as a draft-and-follow, the school has two more quality arms. Six-foot-4, 215-pound RHP Chris Hunter, under control to the Angels after being drafted in the 32nd round last June, set the school career strikeout record this spring, getting a number of them with a 91-94 mph fastball. Like many Utah juco players, Hunter interrupted his career to go on a Mormon mission. He spent two years in Panama shortly after being drafted out of high school in 1999 by the Dodgers. At 22, he's now anxious to sign and get on with his career. RHP Jason Ward was the best college pitcher in Utah this spring and was his school's athlete of the year. Though he's smaller than Hunter, he has better command of his pitches and walked just seven hitters in his first 60 innings. His fastball ranges from 88-90 mph and touches 91 and his out pitch is a quick, sharp-breaking 78-81 mph slider. If Ward doesn't sign with the Royals or the team that drafts him this year, he'll go to the University of Arizona.

• Six-foot-3, 190-pound RHP Zachary Stott, a redshirt freshman, sparked early hype when he came out throwing 88-90 mph with a plus splitter, but he never progressed over the season. His teammate, 6-foot, 170-pound RHP Matt Elliott, outpitched him and threw a perfect game against Utah Valley State. Elliott has command of an 88-92 mph fastball and a plus breaking ball. He is expected to sign with the Cardinals, who drafted him in the 27th round a year ago.

• 3B Drew Larsen has a nice package of speed, power and arm strength.

• RHP/1B Chad Barben helped himself in mid-April when he led Taylorsville High to an unexpected championship at the prestigious National Classic in California. The exposure he received convinced scouts there is upside in his mature, 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame--as both a hitter and pitcher. He can hold his velocity in the 87-90 mph range, and occasionally touches 92.

• Sophomore-eligible RHP Clay Westmoreland is 5-foot-10 and has a maximum-effort delivery, but he has a lively 91-92 mph fastball and changes speeds well. Teammate Pat Overholt was expected to be the first college player in Utah drafted this year, but he struggled with just average stuff.

• 3B Kainoa Obrey didn't sign after being drafted in the 11th round by the Royals a year ago, and offers pretty much the same package. He's a tough out but may end up at first base in the future.

SOUTHERN ROCKIES ***
Colorado, New Mexico

Colorado might have earned a five-star rating if it had a significant baseball program and could keep the state's best talent. Players like Kyle Sleeth (Wake Forest), David Aardsma (Rice), Matt Farnum (Texas A&M), Matt Hopper (Nebraska), Mike Moat (San Diego State) and Ryan Mulhern (South Alabama) all have Colorado roots. These two states do boast the national home run leaders in both Division I and junior college, in Billy Becher (29) and Ian Bladergroen (31).

1. Jim Vermilyea, rhp, New Mexico
2. Griffin Phelps, lhp, Farmington (N.M.) HS
3. Mark Melancon, rhp, Golden HS, Arvada, Colo.
4. Matt Pike, rhp, Centennial HS, Pueblo, Colo.
5. Ian Bladengroen, 1b, Lamar (Colo.) CC (CONTROL: Mets)
6. Billy Becher, 1b, New Mexico State
7. Jason Crosland, 3b, Lamar CC
8. Quentin Andes, rhp, Cibola HS, Albuquerque
9. Alex Borgo, of, New Mexico State
10. Mitch Goins, rhp, New Mexico JC
11. John Wilson, rhp, Northeastern (Colo.) JC
12. Eric Schaler, rhp, Cherry Creek HS, Englewood, Colo.
13. Nate Cabrerra, rhp, Trinidad State (Colo.) JC

Projected First-Round Picks
None

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks
None

Others to Watch

• New Mexico State's 6-foot-4, 230-pound 1B Billy Becher and New Mexico's 6-foot-5, 225-pound senior 1B Chris Alexander ran 1-2 in Division I in both homers and RBIs most of the season. Becher (27 homers, 102 RBIs) had the edge on Alexander (25 homers, 91 RBIs) on both counts and is the better prospect. An aggressive hitter, he takes huge hacks and has hit all kinds of pitching in putting up the best stats in the country. He has limitations defensively and his speed is below-average. Alexander is a one-tool talent and a marginal senior sign.

• New Mexico's best college position prospect is OF Alex Borgo, a German-born Canadian who once played for Germany's national team. As with many New Mexico State players, Borgo's best tool is his power.

• The state's top college pitching prospect is 6-foot-4, 195-pound RHP Jim Vermilyea, who didn't put up the numbers this spring that he did last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he had a 1.35 ERA in a closer role. He still had a solid season and showed command of three pitches--a sinking 89-91 mph fastball, 81-82 slider and splitter--while becoming a more complete pitcher. A possible fourth- to sixth-rounder, Vermilyea's come a long way from being the No. 3 starter on his high school team.

• Not only is 1B Ian Bladergroen (.455-31-85) the national juco home run leader, but teammates Andy Scholl (25) and Jason Crosland (23) also rank second and third. Unlike neighboring states Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Utah, Colorado uses aluminum bats. The 6-foot-5, 210-pound Bladergroen, a Mets draft pick in 2002 (44th round), is athletic and sound defensively. Crosland, a third baseman, also is an offensive-oriented player. He was not drafted last year and projects as a 10th-15th rounder.

• RHPs John Wilson and Nate Cabrerra both have 89-91 mph fastballs and good breaking balls, Wilson was among national leaders with 12.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

• Six-foot-3, 210-pound RHP Mitch Goins is New Mexico's best junior college product. His fastball has been clocked as high as 93 mph.

• RHP Quentin Andes was expected to be New Mexico's best high school prospect after touching 92 mph last fall, but he didn't show the same velocity in 2003. Five-foot-10, 185-pound LHP Griffin Phelps supplanted Andes. He flashed three solid pitches and his size doesn't seem to be an issue. Griffin has committed to Arizona; Andes to Arizona State (though he may end up at Lamar CC).

• RHP Mark Melancon, another Arizona recruit, moved to the head of the high school class in Colorado, jumping ahead of 6-foot-6, 190-pound Matt Pike. Melancon, the quarterback on his high school team, has an 88-90 mph fastball and command of his breaking stuff. Pike, a Nebraska signee, has touched 90 but was more consistently 86-87 this spring.

• Six-foot-4, 220-pound RHP Eric Schaler has been clocked as high as 94, but his mechanics need a lot of work.

NORTHERN ROCKIES **
Idaho, Montana, Wyoming

Idaho has a monopoly on the talent in this traditionally sparse territory. Not surprisingly, Lewis-Clark State has the top prospect as it shoots for its 13th NAIA title.

1. Marc Kaiser, rhp, Lewis-Clark State
2. John Hurd, rhp-of, CC of Southern Idaho
3. Brendan Ryan, ss, Lewis-Clark State
4. Zach Simmons, 1b-lhp, Glenns Ferry (Idaho) HS
5. Jared Arehart, rhp, Idaho Falls HS

Projected First-Round Picks
None

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks

Marc Kaiser, rhp
Kaiser is the highest pick from the 2000 draft still in college. He was the Reds' fourth-round selection that year and may be hard-pressed to go that high again. Some scouts see him going after the 10th round, though he's posted a 9-2, 2.03 record. He spent his first two years at Arizona, transferring to Lewis-Clark State after he spent last summer with longtime Warriors coach Ed Cheff in Alaska. Cheff guided the Alaska Goldpanners to the National Baseball Congress World Series crown--his second national title in little more than two months. Kaiser became his ace this spring and was a more complete pitcher than he was at Arizona. He didn't approach the mid-90s he recorded in Alaska, pitching at 89-90 and adding a quality two-seam fastball to go with a slider.

Others to Watch

• SS Brendan Ryan might have been a more attractive draft pick if he hadn't been one of five starters from last year's national championship Lewis-Clark squad removed from the team for various transgressions.

• Versatile Jay Knowlton filled in at shortstop for Ryan after being a jack-of-all-trades for the Warriors. He was drafted by the Giants in the 23rd round a year ago and would have signed then had he not broken his foot. As a fifth-year senior, he'll get a chance to sign with the Giants before the draft.

• RHP/OF John Hurd generated modest interest as a strong-armed right fielder and No. 3 hitter for the College of Southern Idaho, but it escalated considerably when he was tried as a closer. Hurd pitched for the first time last year and scouts took notice this spring when his fastball sat at 92-93 and peaked at 95 mph. An 83-84 mph slider remains a work in progress.

• RHP Jared Arehart was Idaho's top high school prospect entering the season, but he was slowed by a sore arm. His velocity slipped from 90-91 to 83-84. He continued to play shortstop. His injury means his next destination likely will be Washington State.

• 1B/LHP Zach Simmons was clocked at 87-90 mph this spring, but he prefers to be an everyday player.

PACIFIC RIM *
Alaska, Hawaii

A rebuilding University of Hawaii squad has only a handful of eligible players, and the high school ranks are unusually thin, making this one of the leanest drafts in Hawaii in several years. The high school junior crop is much deeper, so things figure to pick up again next year. Alaska, as usual, offers little.

1. Justin Azze, lhp, Hawaii
2. Kala Kaaihue, c, Iolani HS, Kahua, Hawaii
3. Tim Montgomery, of, Hawaii
4. Keoni Ruth, ss, Kamehameha HS, Honolulu
5. Anton Maxwell, lhp, East HS, Anchorage

Projected First-Round Picks
None

Possible Second-Fifth-Round Picks
None

Others to Watch

A 10th-round pick of the Expos in 2002, LHP Justin Azze was to be Hawaii's ace this spring but he never got on the mound. Because he never received his degree last year from Orange Coast College, Azze was declared ineligible. Three appeals were made to the NCAA, all to no avail. Azze still should be the first Hawaiian drafted. He worked out on the side for scouts and showcased an 88-90 mph fastball.

• OF Tim Montgomery shows little feel with the bat, but his other tools are above-average. He's an excellent defensive center fielder with above-average speed and arm strength.

• C Kala Kaaihue is the younger brother of 1B Kila Kaaihue, the Royals' 15th-round pick in 2002. Kila had a strong lefthanded bat and powerful body but lacked a position. Kala is the same kind of prospect from right side of the plate, but he has an identifiable position. He's an excellent receiver with arm strength. He signed with Hawaii, which is counting on him to be a cornerstone in rebuilding a once-prominent program.

• The Rainbows are making it a priority to keep local players at home, and SS Keoni Ruth is the only player from the islands who committed to a team on the mainland this year. He signed with San Diego. Ruth is an offensive middle infielder.

• Using a low-80s fastball and decent curve, 5-foot-9, 150-pound LHP Anton Maxwell struck out as many as 19 in a game this spring. He is the best of a thin lot of Alaska prospects.