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Casing the States: Nevada

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I'm coming up with a new series, and it's called Casing the States. I'm going to be looking at the talent in each state, offering a preview of the players that will be available. We're just under 50 days (48 to be exact) from the draft, so I'll double up with small states on some days, and I'm pretty sure covering Alaska is a waste of time, so I should get through it just in time for the draft.

Each article will cover an entire state, including the four year college prospects, junior college prospects, as well as high school prospects, so that you get a good view for the makeup of the class. A lot of the states mentioned are just a part of an area for a scout, so giving them to you in isolation is a little misleading, but it serves a purpose. That purpose is to get you familiar with as many names as possible so that when the draft comes in just under 7 weeks, you know the players involved.

So without any further introduction, follow the jump to get to the first state I'll cover, Nevada.

Top 2008 Nevada Draft Picks
SS Niko Vasquez, Durango HS, Las Vegas, 3-91 to St. Louis
RHP Joe Wieland, Bishop Manogue HS, Reno, 4-123 to Texas
C Braeden Schlehuber, CC of Southern Nevada, 4-130 to Atlanta
RHP Colby Shreve, CC of Southern Nevada, 6-196 to Philadelphia
RHP Kyle Farrell, CC of Western Nevada, 9-280 to Atlanta

 

Top 2009 Nevada Draft Picks
1B Jeff Malm, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas, 5-169 to Tampa Bay
RHP Danny Reynolds, Durango HS, Las Vegas, 6-201 to Los Angeles (AL)
LHP Egan Smith, CC of Southern Nevada, 7-220 to Toronto
OF J.J. Sferra, UNLV, 31-922 to Washington
OF Westley Moss, Nevada, 34-1025 to Cleveland (DID NOT SIGN)

Upcoming Nevada Draft Prospects
Top 2010 Prospect: Bryce Harper, C, CC of Southern Nevada
Top 2011 Prospect: Brett Harrison, SS, Green Valley HS, Henderson
Top 2012 Prospect: Joey Gallo, 3B, Bishop Gorman HS, Las Vegas

Top 2010 Nevada Draft Prospect Tools
Best Hit Tool: Brock Stassi, DH, Nevada
Best Power: Bryce Harper, C, CC of Southern Nevada
Best Speed: Trevor Kirk, OF, CC of Southern Nevada
Best Defender: Richie Jimenez, SS, UNLV
Best Arm: Bryce Harper, C, CC of Southern Nevada

Best Fastball: Tyler Hanks, RHP, CC of Southern Nevada
Best Breaking Ball: Donn Roach, RHP, CC of Southern Nevada
Best Changeup: Chad Nading, RHP, UNLV

Player Profiles (in Alphabetical Order) of Potential Top Ten Round Picks

Kris Bryant, 3B, Bonanza HS, Las Vegas
Bryant came into the year as easily the top prospect in the state of Nevada, but that's more up for debate as of mid-April. A San Diego commit, Bryant plays off of a pair of plus tools in his power and his arm, but the rest of his tools are more questionable. He's a below-average runner with below-average range, and there's a growing camp that sees him as a long-term first baseman. At the plate, a lot of scouts have been openly questioning his ability to hit with a wood bat after some struggles over the summer, which have bled into the spring. He struggles to consistently square balls, and he also struggles with pitch recognition, leading to most scouts thinking he'll be a poor pro hitter for average with a ton of strikeouts to boot. Those negatives aside, though, Bryant's raw power is almost unequaled in the prep class, and if it weren't for Bryce Harper being in the state, he'd easily have the Best Power honors for Nevada. Projected Draft Range: 2nd-5th Round

Kramer Champlin, RHP, CC of Western Nevada
Champlin represents the best that Western Nevada has to offer this year, which is a stark contrast to the loaded Southern Nevada class. Originally from the state of Washington, the Rays took a late-round flier on him out of high school in 2008, and he ended up at Western Nevada after not signing. He wasn't the most heralded recruit, but he did offer projectable size in a prototypical starting pitching frame, as he stands at 6'6'', but only weighs roughly 205 pounds. Champlin brings an interesting mix to the table, as he's become more of a pitchability guy since he arrived at college, and he only carries a fringe-average fastball that usually sits 87-89. However, his command gets true plus grades, so his fastball plays above its velocity, making it an average offering. He adds in an above-average breaking ball and average cutter, rounding out a solid arsenal. He profiles as a back of the rotation starter, and an Arizona State commitment might mean that he goes on to ASU to prove himself more. Projected Draft Range: 10th-15th Round

Tyler Hanks, RHP, CC of Southern Nevada
Hanks is but a mere piece of the electric pitching staff at CSN this spring. The staff is so electric that Hanks, perhaps the top pro prospect of the bunch, is relegated to a supporting bullpen role that doesn't include the closer's spot. That doesn't seem to bother Hanks, as he's broken out this spring to the tune of a 2-1 record with an 0.86 ERA in 31.1 innings, striking out 30 and walking only 9 as of April 20. He's started three games, but most scouts agree that his long-term role will be in the bullpen, where he absolutely shines. That's due to an elite fastball that gets plus grades, sitting 92-95 while touching 97-98 regularly. He's really started to command that pitch this year, and that's why he's really jumped up boards. His secondary pitch is a solid-average slider that has been as high as 87 mph, but it gets better break in the 84-85 range. He doesn't use it as much as he'll have to in the pros, as he's been able to blow his fastball by hitters with ease this spring. That, and the fact that he's changeup-free, means that Hanks will almost certainly be a relief prospect in the pros, though a very good one. He could easily be one of the top relievers taken in June, and he'll almost certainly bypass an Oklahoma State scholarship. Projected Draft Range: 2nd-4th Round

Bryan Harper, LHP, CC of Southern Nevada
Bryce isn't the only Harper worth mentioning this spring. Bryan, a Cal State Northridge transfer, has really hit his stride since transferring in to CSN, and he's reestablished draft value that had diminished in limited use at Northridge. He has been CSN's most consistently dominant starter, and that's saying a lot on a pitching-heavy squad. This Harper doesn't feature the plus-plus raw talent of Bryce, but there's plenty to like, starting with his frame. He stands at an easy 6'5'', and he has the type of frame that scouts look for when seeking left-handed pitchers. He's lanky with broad shoulders, an excellent fit for projectability. He features a solid-average fastball that sits 88-90, touching as high as 92, and he offers above-average command when he's on. If you believe he can add velocity, he could easily sit in the 91-93 range. He throws a pair of breaking balls, both of which are usable pro pitches that are solid-average on their own. His changeup is probably his weakest pitch, but he's done an effective job of shutting down right-handed hitters anyway. Harper's total package is quite attractive, though there's still more work to be done. He has a scholarship to pitch at South Carolina if he wants to use it, but it could very well be that the Nationals re-draft him as a complement to Bryce this June, and it will be much higher than the 31st round pick they used on him in 2008. Projected Draft Range: 6th-10th Round

Bryce Harper, C, CC of Southern Nevada
I honestly don't think there's much I can say about this Harper that hasn't already been said. He features plus-plus power and a plus-plus arm, as well as a solid-average hit tool, a solid-average catching profile, and solid-average speed. That's one incredible package. The big debate seems to be about Harper's long-term position, as he doesn't catch full-time at CSN, sharing duties with a more experienced catcher. However, most scouts are realistic that he should at least get his chance behind the plate in the pros, as his value is maximized there. He's improved his receiving this year out of necessity with the big arms he's been catching, and scouts are giving fairly universally positive indications about his ability to handle a pitching staff. As much as has been made about his arrogance in some circles, Harper is actually a high-makeup player with an intense desire to succeed, and any team would love to get their hands on him come June. He's the odds-on favorite for #1 overall, and though it might take $12-15 million to sign him, the Nationals are likely prepared to pay up. Projected Draft Range: #1 Overall

Nick Kingham, RHP, Sierra Vista HS, Las Vegas
The one big thing about Bryce Harper being a huge prospect that hasn't been discussed enough is how much he's brought attention on the scouting scene in the Las Vegas area. Even prep players have received more attention as a result. Kingham is one of those lucky players. Kingham entered the spring as a well-known entity, despite not playing baseball a year ago due to Nevada athletic rules that bar players transferring schools without moving from playing for a year. He hit national events hard over the summer, reestablishing value he had earlier in his career. A tall, projectable arm that has really firmed up his body in the last six months, Kingham has blossomed even more this spring, and more eyes than usual have been on him. He's started sitting comfortably in the 90-92 mph range with more to come, and there's one report of him hitting 95. He projects to easily possess a plus fastball with a free and easy delivery, and that's not the only thing to like about him. He throws an average curveball and an above-average changeup which some scouts have labeled as a potential plus pitch. That three-pitch mix has Kingham rising up boards fast, and he could land as high as early in the second round if things keep progressing, which would lead to him giving up his Oregon scholarship. Projected Draft Range: 2nd-4th Round

Trevor Kirk, OF, CC of Southern Nevada
I'm being fairly kind in placing Kirk here, as his development has stalled a little bit in conjunction with Bryce Harper joining the team. Kirk has had an excellent career at CSN, though, and he has followed up an excellent freshman season that ended with a late-round pick by the Brewers with a solid sophomore campaign. Kirk isn't what most would consider toolsy enough to be a high-round draft pick as an outfielder. He features a solid approach at the plate for a leadoff hitter, and even though he doesn't strike out too much now, his swing can get a little long, leading to worries about his ability to hit for average at the next level. He doesn't have much power, either, so his offensive game is fairly limited in its future potential. He does possess plus speed and solid-average range for center field, but he's not the surest fielder, and he's new to the outfield, so it has been a struggle to adjust since enrolling at CSN last year. His arm is solid-average, so there's hope that he can be made into a fourth outfielder with speed and defense. He hasn't played since April 9 due to an undisclosed injury, so that may play a factor in his draft stock if it turns out to be something serious. Projected Draft Range: 10th-20th Round

Aaron Kurcz, RHP, CC of Southern Nevada
As well as Tyler Hanks has pitched this spring, he hasn't been able to take the closer's spot from Kurcz. An Air Force transfer, Kurcz flashed plus stuff last year as a freshman for the Falcons, but he never quite put together his command or control, getting hit hard while also striking out his fair share of hitters. Even with a few bumps along the way, he's started to put it together this spring at CSN, as he sits at 2-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 22.1innings, striking out 32 and walking 12 as of April 20. He's proved harder to hit, though that could be due to facing wood bats in an altitude that has been decreased by the thousands when compared to Colorado Springs at Air Force. He's saved 8 games as the reliever of choice on one of the top junior college teams in the country, and that's where he projects to stay in pro ball. Kurcz comes a close second behind Hanks for the Best Fastball category in the state, routinely popping fastballs in the 93-95 range, touching 97. He still struggles to command it, and he doesn't ever project to have anything better than average command in the long run. That doesn't matter in relief as much, as he can uncoil a plus fastball with ease in a deceptively smooth delivery. His breaking ball is a hard curveball that qualifies as a slurve to some, and it's a potentially above-average pitch if he can control it. It's not quite there, but the potential is. Kurcz is easily one of the most improved pitchers in the country this year, and he likely won't reach Oral Roberts, where he has a scholarship to play as a junior. Projected Draft Range: 4th-8th Round

Kenny McDowall, RHP, CC of Southern Nevada
McDowell is yet another player that has received positive exposure as a result of being teammates with Bryce Harper. A little-known sophomore entering the season, he's bloomed into one of the better junior college swing men in the country. He had his fair share of success exclusively as a reliever in 2009, showing solid command and some promise, but most thought he'd turn out to be more of a solid college pitcher than a true pro prospect. It turns out that he has a little more in the tank than was expected, and there's still some room for improvement. McDowall stands at 6'3'', but only 185 pounds, and one of the main reasons he wasn't highly-recruited out of high school is that he didn't have much strength to speak of. He slipped through the cracks nationally and only landed at CSN due to the hometown ties. On the mound, he features a solid-average 90-92 mph fastball that gets excellent sink, and it moves more than any other fastball on the staff. He commands it passably well, but he's lost his feel for it at times due to the movement it gets. It will sometimes drift out over the plate or dive below the strike zone often enough for hitters to lay off, resulting in his fair share of walks allowed. He complements his fastball with a fringe-average breaking ball and changeup combination that doesn't project well for him in pro ball, though he changes speeds enough to keep hitters off-balance. He doesn't have the big potential of his fellow pitchers, but he offers plenty of value as a swing man. He has a scholarship to Hawaii, and he'd start immediately there, so if he isn't happy with the offer he receives, he stands a chance to build on his stock next year. Projected Draft Range: 7th-12th Round

Chad Nading, RHP, UNLV
This placement is more out of courtesy and ceiling than out of true results. Nading is a former Oregon State Beaver, having redshirted there as a freshman in 2007. He transferred out to Skagit Valley CC in Washington for his redshirt freshman year, then on to UNLV for a sophomore campaign that saw him eligible for the draft. A rare Alaska native in baseball, Nading collapsed upon his entrance to UNLV, flashing excellent stuff, but not knowing where it was going at any time. The Rangers took a late-round flier on him in the 2009 draft, but no real attempt was made to sign him. Now a 22 year old junior, Nading has failed to make progress once again this year. Despite having plus natural stuff that includes a plus 91-93 mph fastball and plus changeup, he has never gotten a feel for the strike zone. Having started the year as a mid-week starter, Nading continues to find rare work, getting four starts mixed in with two mop-up relief appearances, the six appearances only totaling 17.2 innings in all through April 19. He continues to be unable to find the strike zone, and the natural stuff he features always lands where hitters aren't even tempted to swing. He has been consistently roughed up, but a few pro teams may see his stuff as worth taking in the middle rounds as a potential middle reliever. Nading's raw stuff is always worth mentioning, but time is running out on him showing some control. Projected Draft Range: 10th-25th Round

Brian Pointer, OF, Galena HS, Reno
Pointer is the position player complement to Kris Bryant in the Nevada high school class, though he hasn't been making as much progress as hoped. Pointer doesn't offer the kind of ceiling that Bryant offers, though he does offer some nice polish at the plate for a prep bat. A lefty all the way, Pointer has solid raw hitting tools, featuring average potential with the bat and average potential for power. He's also a solid athlete with solid-average speed, making him an interesting prospect. He shows solid defensive tools for right field, showcasing a solid-average arm with above-average range for the position, and he should make for a good defensive outfielder after work on his routes. As you can tell, there isn't anything that really stands out about Pointer, and scouts have been waiting on him to show just a little more potential. At this point he profiles more as a solid college outfield prospect than a true pro prospect, and I suspect his Oregon State commitment will come into play in the range he's projected to be drafted. Projected Draft Range: 10th Round - Undrafted

Donn Roach, RHP, CC of Southern Nevada
I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of hearing about CSN prospects. This isn't even the last pitcher on the list. However, Roach slots in as the best starting pitching prospect on the team, and he's close to equaling Hanks as the best overall pitching prospect, as well. Roach comes from the storied Bishop Gorman program that routinely ranks high in national baseball polls. He headed to Arizona from there, but the success stopped as soon as he reached campus. He seemingly fell apart on the mound, and work ethic issues put him in the dog house with the Arizona coaching staff. As a result, he transferred out after a very bad year, and he has landed on his feet at CSN. Though scouts thought Joe Robinson would be the best starting pitcher on the CSN staff, Roach has taken to that role, flashing dominant stuff with excellent results. He routinely sits 91-93 with his fastball, and he has the capability of reaching back for a 95 if he needs it. He easily earned the spot of having the best breaking ball in the Nevada class, as his curveball is a two-plane breaker with plus potential. He owns another intriguing pitch, a lefty-neutralizing splitter, that he doesn't use enough, though pro coaches could work with him on using it enough to make hitters defensive thinking about it. He also throws a changeup that projects to be an average pitch if repeated enough, so it could be that the splitter gets scrapped if the changeup advances enough. It looks like Roach is on his way to a fairly high draft position in June, and he'll likely join Bryan Harper in not fulfilling a South Carolina commitment. Projected Draft Range: 3rd-5th Round

Drew Robinson, OF, Silverado HS, Las Vegas
Wheras Brian Pointer offers solid upside as a complement to Kris Bryant in the Nevada class, Robinson might have the better potential between the two outfielders. However, Robinson has a longer way to go to reach that potential, and most scouts are resigned to the idea that he will have to go to college to find that potential. At the plate, he currently features a raw approach from the left side, though he doesn't try to do too much with his at-bats when he's concentrating. He goes gap-to-gap fairly well, and he could turn into a solid-average hitter with repetitions. His power is below-average, and that shouldn't be part of his game, but he's not overly weak, either, and he could run into his fair share of home runs once he fills out. He's pretty wiry, though not extremely projectable, so that's why the power potential isn't really there. He's a solid-average to above-average runner, and that goes along well with a solid-average arm in the outfield. He profiles as more of a 'tweener, not having quite enough range to stick in center field, but not having enough bat to stick in a corner. He could handle center field just fine in college, as he's committed to Nebraska, but he looks more like a right fielder as he fills out. The potential is here for a solid pro outfielder, but it may be three more years before we see him attempt pro ball. Projected Draft Range: 10th-25th Round

Joe Robinson, RHP, CC of Southern Nevada
We're finally at the last CSN pitcher. Robinson profiled as the best pitching prospect on the team entering the season, and despite turning in routinely excellent starts, Roach and Hanks have lapped him. To Robinson's credit, he's continued to go out and do what he does best, which is hit the mitt with a solid pitch mix. If you look at Robinson, he doesn't look like an elite pitching prospect. His frame is pretty well filled out, and even though he has decent size at 6'2'' and 190 pounds, he doesn't strike the average person as a high-ceiling baseball player. He lacks the big projection that scouts look for, but that doesn't mean his stuff is weak. Rather, he works with an above-average fastball that can sit in the 91-94 range on good days, touching 95-96 when needed. He commands that pitch very well, and he complements it with a solid-average slider and changeup. He's always going to have to get by on command, though, as he throws so many strikes that hitters will tend to cheat on his fastball. He profiles as a solid #4 starter in the long run, and even though he has solid draft stock now, he could easily land at Georgia, as he'd immediately step into a starter's role on a team that has struggled to find consistent starting pitching. On the other hand, Georgia's struggles could mean Robinson wants to move on to pro ball, so it's all a matter of personal preference. Projected Draft Range: 4th-8th Round

Michael Wagner, RHP, Centennial HS, Las Vegas
Wagner has been sneaking up boards this spring as more scouts have traveled to see him pitch. Previously seen as a potential college arm to follow at San Diego, he's now seen as a true pro prospect for the current draft. Wagner is seen as a prototypical projection arm, and that's thanks to a tall, skinny frame that shows obvious signs of future strength potential. He already pumps in fastballs in the 89-91 range with above-average armside run and sink, and that pitch projects to be plus if he continues to command it like he has. He's already started to show a bit of the potential in his arm this spring, touching as high as 94, though he still works in the lower range for most of his outings. He mixes in a slurvy breaking ball that should qualify as a slider, sitting 79-81, and it gets future above-average grades when he stays on top of it rather than slinging it. He adds in a solid-average changeup with excellent fade, but he doesn't get as much depth on it as scouts would like. There are a few teams that look to be charging hard after Wagner, but the general scouting consensus is that he still needs to add 20-30 pounds of strength in his frame, and a lot of teams don't want to wait three years to see that strength develop at the minor league level. Wagner's definitely moved up boards this spring, but there's still a ways to go. Projected Draft Range: 5th-10th Round