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Casing the States: Texas, Part One

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The second state covered in my new series, Casing the States, is the state of Texas. It's tough to thoroughly cover the whole state, but I'll do my best to show you the entire picture of the state in 2010, starting today.

The high school class in Texas this year is weaker than normal, but it's buoyed by strong junior college and four year college classes, making this an average to slightly above-average class compared to a normal Texas class.

Follow the jump to see how who to watch in Texas, including reports on the first 15 of 60 players on my list.

Top 2008 Texas Draft Picks
RHP Andrew Cashner, TCU, 1-19 to Chicago (NL)
RHP Bryan Price, Rice, 1s-45 to Boston
SS Tyler Ladendorf, Howard JC, 2-60 to Minnesota
RHP Trey Haley, Central Heights HS, Nacogdoches, 2-76 to Cleveland
OF Roger Kieschnick, Texas Tech, 3-82 to San Francisco
RHP Zach Stewart, Texas Tech, 3-84 to Cincinnati
OF Kyle Russell, Texas, 3-93 to Los Angeles (NL)
RHP Ross Seaton, Second Baptist HS, Houston, 3s-109 to Houston
RHP Curtis Petersen, Ryan HS, Denton, 4-118 to Florida
OF Robbie Grossman, Cypress-Fairbanks HS, Cypress, 6-174 to Pittsburgh
RHP Brett Marshall, Sterling HS, Baytown, 6-200 to New York (AL)
OF Jordan Danks, Texas, 7-210 to Chicago (AL)
RHP Matt Thompson, Grace Prep Academy, Arlington, 7-213 to Texas
LHP Brad Dydalewicz, Lake Travis HS, Austin, 8-242 to Houston
SS Beamer Weems, Baylor, 8-255 to San Diego
RHP Nate Eovaldi, Alvin HS (TX), Alvin, 11-337 to Los Angeles (NL)
OF J.P. Ramirez, Canyon HS, New Braunfels, 15-451 to Washington
LHP Hunter Cervenka, Sterling HS, Baytown, 27-832 to Boston
SS Carson Blair, Liberty Christian HS, Argyle, 35-1072 to Boston
RHP Jarred Cosart, Clear Creek HS, League City, 38-1156 to Philadelphia


Top 2009 Texas Draft Picks
RHP Aaron Crow, Ft. Worth Cats, 1-12 to Kansas City
LHP Matt Purke, Klein HS, Klein, 1-14 to Texas (DID NOT SIGN)
RHP Shelby Miller, Brownwood HS, Brownwood, 1-19 to St. Louis
OF Randal Grichuk, Lamar Consolidated HS, Rosenberg, 1-24 to Los Angeles (AL)
OF Slade Heathcott, Texas HS, Texarkana, 1-29 to New York (AL)
LHP Aaron Miller, Baylor, 1s-36 to Los Angeles (NL)
RHP Victor Black, Dallas Baptist, 1s-49 to Pittsburgh
OF Everett Williams, McCallum HS, Austin, 2-52 to San Diego
RHP Alex Wilson, Texas A&M, 2-77 to Boston
LHP Donnie Joseph, Houston, 3-88 to Cincinnati
OF Todd Glaesmann, Midway HS, Waco, 3-108 to Tampa Bay
LHP Zack Dodson, Medina Valley HS, Castroville, 4-115 to Pittsburgh
SS Ryan Goins, Dallas Baptist, 4-130 to Toronto
LHP Miguel Pena, La Joya HS, Mission, 5-142 to Washington (DID NOT SIGN)
1B Brandon Belt, Texas, 5-147 to San Francisco
LHP Austin Wood, Texas, 5-150 to Detroit
RHP Damien Magnifico, North Mesquite HS, Mesquite, 5-164 to New York (NL) (DID NOT SIGN)
RHP Matt Graham, Oak Ridge HS, Spring, 6-177 to San Francisco
LHP Brooks Raley, Texas A&M, 6-200 to Chicago (NL)
LHP Colton Cain, Waxahachie HS, Waxahachie, 8-235 to Pittsburgh
RHP Ryan Berry, Rice, 9-266 to Baltimore
RHP Kendal Volz, Baylor, 9-288 to Boston
RHP Jacob Cowan, San Jacinto JC, 10-296 to Baltimore
RHP Nathan Karns, Texas Tech, 12-352 to Washington
LHP Cameron Coffey, Houston Christian HS, Houston, 22-656 to Baltimore
RHP Shawn Blackwell, Clear Creek HS, League City, 24-724 to Texas

Upcoming Texas Draft Prospects
Top 2010 Prospect: Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS
Top 2011 Prospect: Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas
Top 2012 Prospect: Josh Elander, C/OF, TCU

Top 2010 Texas Draft Prospect Tools
Best Hit Tool: Matt Lipka, SS, McKinney HS
Best Power: Michael Choice, OF, UT Arlington
Best Speed: Krey Bratsen, OF, Bryan HS
Best Defender: Bryan Holaday, C, TCU
Best Arm: Krey Bratsen, OF, Bryan HS

Best Fastball: Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS
Best Breaking Ball: Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS
Best Changeup:Michael Goodnight, RHP, Houston

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

Zak Adams, LHP, Flower Mound HS, Flower Mound
Adams is a fast riser this spring in a class that's fairly weak at the prep left-handed pitching position. Adams pitches in the Dallas Metroplex, and more scouts have started flocking his way, as he's upped his fastball to be able to reach the low-90s. He normally pitches in the upper-80s, sitting 88-90, touching 92, adding in a potentially above-average curveball in the low- to mid-70s. With those two pitches, Adams looks like a potential number three starter with a tall, lanky frame, and there has been some comparison to current Texas Rangers prospect Derek Holland. However, Adams still has a lot of refinement and strengthening to do, and he's probably better off following through on his Tulane commitment, as he's an excellent student. Projected Draft Range: 8th-15th Round

Blake Barnes, RHP, Howard JC
Barnes was a part of the special 2009 Howard squad that went 63-1 and won a national championship. One of only a handful of returnees, he was looking to build on a solid freshman campaign, though he went undrafted due to a desire to return to school for another run at the national championship. However, Barnes went down early in the year with tendinitis, and he just returned to action last week. Before the injury, his velocity was slightly down from the low-90s he's used to throwing, and his command was below-average, making him incredibly hittable, though his control was still solid. His pitches were simply catching too much of the plate. In his return, he seemed to come back to form, throwing 7 strong innings, striking out 11 and allowing only an unearned run. His stuff profiles as a back-end starter, as he adds in a solid-average breaking ball that profiles well for pro ball. He's signed on to play for Oklahoma State next year, and the odds went up that he'll land there when he passed time with the injury. However, he's a solid junior college option for a team looking for signable arms in the late single-digit rounds. Projected Draft Range: 7th-12th Round

Chad Bettis, RHP, Texas Tech
Bettis has been a well-known name in the 2010 college class for some time, and he was an 8th round pick out of high school by the Astros in Houston's disastrous 2007 draft. Bettis has gone back and forth with roles as a starter and reliever over his career, and after a great run as Team USA's closer last summer, he stepped into the starting rotation as the Red Raiders' Friday starter in February. After six up-and-down starts, he moved into the bullpen again, and he's worked as a long relief closer, usually pitching multiple innings in his appearances. A pair of outings last weekend sum up his usage, throwing 31 pitches in a Saturday game, then coming back the next day for a 4 inning save and 64 pitches. That borders on pitcher abuse, and the team that drafts Bettis will have to be careful with his workload early in his career. Bettis' long-term role is in question, as he has the delivery of a starter but the pitch mix of a closer. He works in the 92-94 range with his fastball as a starter, but can bump that up to 95-97 out of the bullpen, and he complements that with a slider that gets above-average grades. He doesn't have a usable changeup, meaning he'd have a longer development curve than most college starters if a team wants him to develop that way. With his move to the bullpen, Bettis lost a little draft stock, but he's still arguably the best reliever available in this class, and he has enough upside to warrant a possible chance as a starter in the minors. Projected Draft Range: Supplemental 1st Round-Late 2nd Round

Mark Blackmar, RHP, Carroll HS, Corpus Christi
Blackmar is actually a solid two-way prospect, but it's looking more and more like he's going to have a better career as a pitcher. What's interesting is that both of Blackmar's parents have made a career out of golfing, his father being Phil Blackmar, a winner of a few PGA events over the course of his career. This Blackmar is fairly new to pitching, having started just last year, but he's come a long way in a short time. He uses a fastball that now sits 87-89, bumping 91-92, and he's getting stronger and more refined with each outing. He has one of the best cutters in the entire prep class, and he pairs that with a fringe-average curveball and changeup. He already has a pretty mature body for strength, so the fact that he's fairly advanced with his pitching is a big strength. He profiles as a solid back-end starter, and even though he's without a major college scholarship so far, he will likely be a late sign for a bigger program. For now, he has a junior college commitment, and he's likely to head to college to continue to learn how to pitch. Projected Draft Range: 10th-20th Round

Krey Bratsen, OF, Bryan HS, Bryan
As you can tell from the Best Tools section, Bratsen is simply a tool shed. Blessed with plus-plus speed and a plus arm, Bratsen offers one of the highest defensive ceilings in the entire class. He can track down almost anything in center field, and he's easily a plus fielder there thanks to his speed, though his routes are still raw like most high school outfielders. At the plate, though, Bratsen is much less refined, showing plus bat speed, but a raw approach and poor pitch recognition. He doesn't profile for more than fringe-average power, as he's more gap-to-gap, but he's also an average hitter at best. However, his incredible athleticism is very much in demand, though his commitment to hometown Texas A&M makes him look unsignable in the area that he projects to go. He's also an excellent football player, and he's eligible to receive a two-sport bonus if he signs, making him a little more attractive, since they can spread the bonus over five years. Projected Draft Range: 6th-15th Round

Brett Bruening, RHP, Texas Tech
Bruening is a newcomer to Texas Tech this year, having transferred in from Grayson County CC for his junior year. A big, hulking arm, Bruening has found the transition to Division I ball to be pretty difficult, as he's worked primarily in a swing role for the Red Raiders. The best way to describe Bruening is wild. He can hit 97 on the radar gun, but when he starts, he can't throw strikes when he throws any harder than 90-92. His curveball can be wicked when he finds his release point, but it's more common that it dives out of the strike zone well before it reaches the plate. However, the raw stuff is undeniable, and he has shown real flashes of dominance, and some scouts feel he's getting closer to figuring it out. He was a 35th round pick of the Yankees a year ago, and he could easily go in the single digits this year if scouts are sure he'll sign for below the cap in those rounds. He does have an injury history, having had Tommy John surgery in high school, but he seems to be durable now, and he's a few years removed from the operation. Projected Draft Range: 7th-12th Round

Zach Cates, RHP, Northeast Texas CC
Cates is easily the best prospect on NTCC this spring, as he's matured quickly into a solid pitching prospect. Cates was a lightly-recruited catcher coming out of high school, and he spent the vast majority of his time as a catcher at NTCC during his freshman year. He threw 7 innings of relief, and those 7 innings established his real prospect value as a pitcher entering the fall. After a solid fall, Cates entered the rotation during the spring, and he hasn't looked back. Using a solidly built, yet athletic body, Cates offers solid upside for a player that doesn't have much pitching experience. He uses a low-90s fastball that projects, and even though his command is erratic, he's athletic enough that he should be able to repeat his delivery with pro instruction. He works with a projected solid-average breaking ball and a fringe-average changeup. He also threw a combined seven-inning no-hitter just a couple weeks ago. Cates isn't committed to a four-year school and should be signable as a potential #4 starter. Projected Draft Range: 8th-12th Round

Michael Choice, OF, UT Arlington
Choice has received more attention as of late, as he continues to prove doubters wrong with his game on the field. Choice wasn't drafted or even really recruited out of high school, though he started immediately upon his arrival to UT Arlington. Blessed with plus-plus raw power, Choice's game revolves almost completely around his bat. Using an above-average hit tool and that power, he puts a charge into almost every ball he hits, and he does an excellent job of squaring the ball on his bat, a good sign to a smooth transition to wood bats. He proved his worth with wood bats last summer while playing for Team USA, and he's working on becoming the top college outfielder in the entire draft class. He's a fringe-average runner with fringe-average range for the outfield, also possessing a fringe-average arm, all things that pull down his potential draft position from the high place it could be if he were a little more athletic. He's a very smart player in the outfield and on the bases, though, so scouts feel he'll transition well to pro ball. The one drawback with his hitting is his pitch recognition, though he's improved on it in his three years at school. He's not against drawing a walk, and he's improved his patience as he's been pitched around this year. He is sacrificing some contact for power this year, which is a concern, but considering he's the only threat on his entire team, he gets a pass for trying to do something positive. He's made himself into a solid late first round option, and he shouldn't last past the beginning of the second round. Projected Draft Range: #20 Overall - Early 2nd Round

Anthony Cingrani, LHP, Rice
Cingrani came to Rice as a junior college transfer from South Suburban CC in Illinois. Despite not having been drafted or heavily recruited out of high school, Rice chose to immediately place him in the weekend rotation, and he struggled mightily after a solid start. He was so slow to the plate that runners were starting to take off on him, and Rice's coaching staff decided to shut him down for a complete delivery re-tool. After a few weeks off, he returned to starting in a mid-week game last week, but he was hit hard and hasn't pitched since. He typically throws in the upper-80s, sitting 87-89, and he pairs that with a fringe-average curveball and changeup. Since he's a left-handed pitcher, he's going to get opportunities to succeed at the pro level, but his fringy stuff places him as more of a swing man or lefty specialist, though he doesn't seem to be able to get lefties out, either. This is a stark contrast to his junior college career, where he set school records for strikeouts. However, he can't control anything right now, and his stock is fading fast, as teams assume he'll want to return for his senior year in typical Rice fashion. Projected Draft Range: 10th Round - Undrafted

Tommy Collier, RHP, San Jacinto JC
Collier was a fairly well-known prospect in the scouting community coming out of Cypress-Fairbanks High School, enough so that the Brewers took a 29th round flier on him. His teammate Robbie Grossman, however, did sign, and he's listed in the 2008 class above. Collier headed to one of the best, if not the best, junior college programs for development in the country, San Jacinto. He made an immediate impact, becoming the ace of the staff at a young age, though teammate Jake Cowan became a 10th round draft pick. The Blue Jays took a 49th round flier on him, and despite having a Texas commitment, Collier decided to return to San Jac for his sophomore year, where he was expected to be the ace once again. However, after a few early season starts, he went down with an undisclosed injury and then came back to throw a few games out of the bullpen. However, he now hasn't pitched in a month, and most scouts think he's headed to Houston, his new commitment of choice. When healthy, Collier features a heavy sinker that sits 89-91, touching 93, and he pairs it with an above-average slider. That combination gets plenty of ground balls, and he still hasn't allowed an earned run in over 20 combined innings of work this spring. However, unless he gets back on the bump for some innings between now and June, he'll only get another late-round flier. Projected Draft Range: 8th-25th Round

Trae Davis, RHP, Mexia HS, Mexia
Davis is one of the most athletic pitchers in the entire country, but he's also pretty raw with his pitchability. A notable football and basketball player, Davis got a late start to the spring, but he's managed to make his presence known with a hot start. The unusual thing is that Davis' start has more to do with his bat than with his arm, though he's still known as a pro pitching prospect. However, with the bat, he's hitting over .700 in around 50 at-bats, and he's complementing that by striking out nearly everyone he faces on the mound. That sort of athleticism and dominance has attracted scouts from far and wide, and he's quietly making his move up draft boards. As a pitcher, Davis has one of the fastest arms, and that's a positive, since he doesn't carry supreme projectability. He's more of a tightly-wound athlete with good wiry strength. He stands at about 6 feet tall, and he's not going to be mistaken for Tyrell Jenkins. Davis' fastball gets excellent life, and he's sitting 91-93 with it, touching 95 at times. There's concern that he doesn't have the durability to sit at that velocity for an entire game against better hitters who make him work, but all signs indicate his arm is strong enough so far. His best secondary pitch is an above-average slider that sits in the low-80s, and he can really make it move. He has experience with a curveball and changeup, as well, so he should be fine with using them more often in the pros. Despite a Baylor commitment, it's looking more and more like Davis could end up in pro ball, as he has good helium. He's not a first day arm yet, but he could be there by June. Projected Draft Range: 5th-12th Round

Jacques De Gruy, RHP, Jesuit HS, Dallas
De Gruy has one of the most intriguing backgrounds in the 2010 draft, as he's one of thousands of Hurricane Katrina refugees that fled to Texas in the aftermath of the storm. A former New Orleans resident, he's settled quite well into the Dallas area, though he's committed to a school back in New Orleans in Tulane. De Gruy makes this list simply because there's room for him to grow. A two-way prospect in high school, scouts and the Tulane coaching staff have zeroed in on him purely as a pitcher, as he's really developed in that regard over the last 12 months. He has a fastball that sits 86-88, touching as high as 91, and he pairs it with a potentially plus curveball. He has a long way to go to learn the craft of pitching, and he's very inconsistent with his delivery at this point, leading to a number of curveballs that flatten out and fastballs that stay out over the plate. However, the potential is there for De Gruy to start filling out his projectable frame, and he's a great student that is capable of learning from good coaching. He's more of a name to watch for the 2013 draft, but he's also getting looks this spring. Projected Draft Range: 10th Round - Undrafted

Bobby Doran, RHP, Texas Tech
Doran is yet another big, hulking pitcher on the Texas Tech staff, and as you can tell, pitching is where the strength of Texas Tech's pro prospects this year. Doran is a transfer from Seward County CC in Kansas this year, and he's stepped in to become Tech's most reliable starter on the season. Rather than using a traditional power arsenal, Doran relies on a heavy 90-92 mph fastball that gets a good number of groundball outs, and he complements it with a solid-average curveball and an average vulcan change. He commands all three pitches in the bottom of the zone, and even though he doesn't get a large number of strikeouts, he gets enough to think that he'll miss his share of wooden bats. Hitters generally get a good read on his stuff, though, and he's been very hittable when his command is off. He sometimes gets a little too stubborn about throwing a strike, resulting in hitters that know when a pitch is going to be coming across the heart of the plate. He has low walk numbers as a result of his strike-throwing, but he'll give up his share of extra base hits at the next level. On the whole, though, he's really improved his draft stock with his transfer, and he's a solid bet to go in the top eight rounds. Projected Draft Range: 5th-8th Round

Jacob Felts, C, Orangefield HS, Orangefield
In a year where the prep catching class is fairly weak, Felts has a chance to really move up boards if he's deemed signable. A defense-first catcher, Felts is no slouch at the plate, using a solid-average hit tool to spray balls to the gaps, showing a catcher's uncanny ability to put the bat on the ball in almost any situation. He flashes fringe-average raw power, and he should be able to run into 12-15 home runs a year in his prime if he continues to develop. He's a below-average runner, but then again, very few catchers aren't. It's behind the plate where he excels. Combining a above-average to plus arm with plus footwork, he routinely records plus pop times, and he looks like a potential shutdown defender. He's a mature player, and he handles a pitching staff well, so most scouts believe he will make an excellent catcher at the next level. However, Felts has a strong commitment to Texas, and unless he gets the feeling that he won't get enough playing time there, he might scare some scouts away. He's a solid player, though, and a team might pop him as high as the fourth round if he's signable. Projected Draft Range: 4th-8th Round

Nick Fleece, RHP, Texas A&M
Fleece began the year as the Sunday starter for the Aggies, but that was short-lived. He made four starts early on, then was replaced and moved to the bullpen. His first three starts were solid, but he wasn't showing the kind of stuff the Aggies wanted, and he also wasn't showing much stamina, as he'd start to lose steam at about 60 pitches. He's made a single midweek start since, going only a pair of innings in a last-minute decision, and it's clear that the Aggies plan to leave him in the bullpen, the same place he'll likely land in pro ball. Curiously, Fleece didn't even begin his career as a pitcher at A&M, instead coming in as an outfielder and not pitching at all his freshman year. He moved into a vital bullpen role during his sophomore year, and he slowly lost playing time as a position player to the point that he hasn't had a single at-bat this year. On the mound, Fleece can ramp it up to the mid-90s out of the bullpen, and his delivery can become maximum effort. He pairs it with a fringe-average breaking ball, and though he controls his entire arsenal, his command is below-average and doesn't project for more. He's very hittable, leaving pitches out over the plate consistently, and scouts just hope that some tinkering could turn him into a late-inning bullpen threat. For now, he's a solid arm to watch. Projected Draft Range: 8th-15th Round

I'll spread the reports on Texas out, as I'm covering 60 players as possible top ten round picks right now, though it could honestly be more if things shake out perfectly. However, 60 is about the limit I can take for his series. I've posted 15 for you here, and 45 more will come over the course of the series.