I'm halfway through my series on Texas, but I thought I'd give some writing space to the states that won't be providing a top ten round pick in the 2010 draft. I call them empty states, but they're more than that. Some states are just having a down year, while others don't even play organized baseball.
Follow the jump to see which states won't make the cut this year.
I'll give a quick writeup on each state here, though each state is pretty thin. There are 14 states (including Washington, D.C.) that won't have a high-round pick this year, and while most of these are states that traditionally have weaker baseball programs, a couple of the names might surprise you.
No surprises here. All you have to do is visit Alaska to see that it's practically impossible to play organized baseball in the spring. The one redeeming factor about baseball in Alaska is that it is home to one of the best wood bat summer collegiate leagues during the summer. Alaska had no draft picks last year, has no players in college that came from the state that are prospects this year, and they have no high school players that are candidates to be drafted.
This was a little tougher, as the Delaware Blue Hens have a pair of senior hitters that are draftable in Ryan Cuneo and Alonso. Cuneo started out the year as the better prospect, but he's essentially stalled in his development, and Alonso has had a monster year. However, Alonso lacks pro tools, and he's still more of an organizational pick in the late-teens to mid-twenties. The highest draft pick out of Delaware a year ago was Cody Holliday, the Mets' 18th round pick, and there's a solid chance that is improved upon this year, though there are no top ten round candidates.
Idaho's generally an underrated state when it comes to baseball talent, and Lewis-Clark State has become a solid bedrock baseball program that takes on a large number of junior college and Division 1 transfers. Southern Idaho JC also recruits large numbers of Canadian prospects, making the state quite diverse. However, it's a bit of a down year, and the only candidate for being drafted in the mid-teens is Lewis-Clark State catcher Kawika Emsley-Pai. The highest pick a year ago was the Marlins' unsigned 13th rounder, Tyler Curtis, from Southern Idaho, and that's probably the ceiling for a pick this year.
I held out some hope that Kyle Benoit would turn into a top ten round relief candidate, but he's been plagued by ineffectiveness as a result of Tommy John surgery recovery, and as a draft-eligible sophomore, he's likely to return to school for his junior year. None of the other players in the state are early draft candidates, though a pair of high school players have Division 1 scholarships. The top pick out of Maine last year was the Mariners' unsigned 28th rounder in Regan Flaherty, who is now at Vanderbilt. Someone might go higher than that this year, but likely not by much.
This is probably the most surprising on my list, as Maryland came into the year with a few names that could have been legitimate top ten round prospects. While Terrapin ace Brett Harman has had a solid year, it's become increasingly clear that he does it with fringy stuff, and he's more of a mid-teens pick. High schoolers Kyle Convissar and Alex Ramsay, teammates at Severna Park, both with Maryland commitments, haven't made a big step forward this year, and it's assumed that both will end up at school. Maryland's top pick a year ago was Boston's unsigned 6th rounder, Branden Kline, who is now at Virginia. No one will go that high this year, but this is probably the strongest baseball state on this list.
There's not a lot to say here, as there are no college programs in Montana. There is some high school activity, but the best prospect, catcher Tony LaGaly, is likely a late-round pick at best, and he's committed to play at Central Arizona CC next year. Montana didn't put out a single draft pick last year, and I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case again.
Shocking, I know. As obvious as this selection might be, New Hampshire's not at the bottom for talent in this list. The strongest college program, Franklin Pierce, has put out a solid number of draft picks in recent years, and while no one on their roster profiles to be anything more than organizational roster filler this year, it's a program worth watching. The best high school player is first baseman Mike Montville, and that's by a wide margin. He's a Maryland commit, and he could be part of a solid 2013 class to come from the Terrapins. The highest New Hampshire draft pick last year was Nick Santomauro, the Mets' 10th rounder, and he came out of Dartmouth, who features no notable draft prospects this year.
North Dakota does have college baseball, and three different colleges feature potential late-round or undrafted free agent material. However, the talent pool is very watered down, and there isn't a single player that I foresee getting drafted before the 30th round. North Dakota's top draft prospect a year ago was the Phillies' 47th rounder, Ryan Bollinger, who came out of a high school in Minot. He surprisingly signed, and a fellow high school prospect went in the next round, but didn't sign.
This was definitely not the case a year ago. Eric Smith, a right-hander out of the Rhode Island program, was a highly-sought after prospect, and the Diamondbacks picked him up in the second round with one of their many early-round picks. The talent level is down this year, though it's fairly strong compared to others in this list. Brown first baseman Peter Greskoff and Rhode Island pitcher Tim Boyce both profile as mid-teen picks, and the high school level is putting out 7 Division 1 players by my count, though four of those players are headed to play for the Rams, including the top player in the state, left-hander Nick Narodowy.
South Dakota isn't completely barren, as it features a pair of players who could be second-day picks, though late in the day. South Dakota State's Jesse Sawyer is a junior third baseman that transferred in from Lethbridge CC in Alberta, and he's originally from Alberta to begin with. In addition, high school right-hander Brandon Rainford has a UNLV scholarship in hand, and he could turn into a solid prospect for the 2013 draft after three years in school. South Dakota's top draft pick a year ago was the Brewers' 18th rounder Caleb Thielbar, a left-hander from SD State.
Vermont is without college baseball prospects this year, and while Essex high school seems to have a solid program, Vermont prospects are very rare. They don't profile to have a single prospect picked in this year's draft, though Essex High's Dylan Begin is headed to play at UMass in the fall. The top pick a year ago from Vermont was the White Sox's Joe Serafin in the 37th round from Vermont. I don't expect anyone picked that high this year.
D.C. puts out solid, athletic prep players every few years, but it's down year in the District. No high school prospects profile to get drafted, and if there are one or two, they'll be late-round picks out of St. John's Prep. Eric Cantrell of George Washington represents the best pro prospect in the District, though he has fringy stuff and profiles as a middle reliever or swing man at the next level, and he's likely to be a 16th-25th round pick. The top pick last year was the Nationals' Pat Lehman, a right-hander from George Washington.
Wisconsin came onto the baseball draft scene a year ago when Kevin James, a prep left-hander, went flying up draft boards late, and the Rays signed him away from a Boston College commitment after picking him in the 9th round. There's no high-rising player in the state this year, though there's enough high school talent to warrant a handful of Division 1 scholarships and some junior college scholarships. The best chance for an early pick comes from Sun Prairie High's Michael Handel, a shortstop with a Minnesota commitment, but he's more likely to be left off boards in order to watch him develop as a Golden Gopher for three years.
Save the best for last. Wyoming has no college baseball to speak of, and the few high school prospects seem to be raw enough to not get draft consideration. Amazingly enough, the top two prospects in the state, Andrew Fanning and Myles McVeigh, both from Cheyenne, are headed to play at Akron, and I'm guessing that was a targeted recruiting operation by the Zips. There wasn't a single Wyoming prospect drafted last year, and I'd wager that will be the case again.
With Nevada done, and half of Texas done, Casing the States has now covered 15 and a half states, with 36 and a half to go (including Canada and Puerto Rico). More to come this week.