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Casing the States: Texas, Part Four

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It's time for the last installment for Texas in my new series Casing the States. Here is Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

These are the last 15 names to watch for the top ten rounds in June, starting with Brian Ragira and ending with Brandon Workman.

Follow the jump for the fourth and final part of Casing the States of Texas.

Brian Ragira, OF, James Martin HS, Arlington
Ragira is very well-known in the scouting community and in Internet circles, and he was an early favorite to be one of the top high school outfielders taken in this class. However, despite not really doing anything wrong, Ragira has fallen a little due to not taking the big step forward that scouts have wanted to see. In addition, he's a bit of a risky draft pick due to a Stanford commitment and excellent educational background. Ragira's parents hail from Kenya, having immigrated due to educational wishes, and their son has inherited that tradition. That makes him tough to judge in terms of signability, but the tools are legit. His biggest potential is at the plate, where he features plus power potential in a long, wiry frame. Depending on who you talk to, he can also project well for average, though most think he's a solid-average hitter more than a plus hitter. He's also an average straight-line runner, but with above-average baserunning skills, making him an attractive offensive threat. Defensively, he has the tools to be a plus defender in right field, where he could have above-average range and a plus arm that could cover plenty of ground. However, the big question now is whether he'll sign beyond the first round, so it's about waiting and seeing. Projected Draft Range: 2nd - 5th Round

Jared Ray, RHP, Houston
Ray was considered a possible top three rounds arm entering the season, as he was expected to anchor a solid Houston pitching rotation. However, a shoulder injury suffered last summer on the Cape ended up needing arthroscopic surgery late in 2009, and he's still recovering. Despite the free fall that has come with the shoulder injury, Ray still offers some intriguing upside if a team wants to take a flier on him, hoping to sign him for a discount and get him ready for 2011. When healthy, Ray offers a pair of potential plus pitches in a 91-94 mph fastball and an inconsistent slider, and he has a solid 6'3'' frame that bodes well for durability in the future. His changeup was less advanced than a typical college starter's before he went down, so that might be a factor in a move to the bullpen, but most teams consider him a starting prospect when healthy. He has #3 starter upside, and he might be an interesting summer follow if he gets healthy. Projected Draft Range: 7th Round - Undrafted

David Rollins, LHP, San Jacinto JC
Rollins has been on the scouting scene for some time, and he stands a solid chance of being drafted for a third time this June. The Dodgers tabbed him in the 19th round out of First Baptist Academy in in Carthage, Texas out of high school, and the Mariners made him a 23rd round pick a year ago after a solid freshman campaign for San Jac. However, Rollins chose not to sign both times, and he stood to gain 15 or more rounds from last year's selection after a solid start this spring. However, he ended his season abruptly over a month ago when he dislocated his non-throwing shoulder, and he's since had surgery and will miss the rest of the 2010 campaign. Though that hurts his draft stock, two factors are working in his favor. First, he didn't injure his throwing arm. Second, he doesn't have a four-year college commitment to continue his career, making him seem quite signable. When healthy, Rollins is a solid back of the rotation pitcher with an 88-90 mph fastball, as well as an average curveball and changeup, and being left-handed, he's going to get plenty of chances to succeed. His stock has indeed fallen, but his draft position could surprise some on draft day. Projected Draft Range: 7th-20th Round

Connor Rowe, OF, Texas
Rowe is the center fielder for arguably the best college baseball team this year, and that has given him plenty of exposure to scouts. A second-year starter in center field, Rowe started out the year really slowly, and he has never really taken off. He lost his starting spot temporarily in the middle of the season, but he's reclaimed his center field job, though his production is still sub-par. Despite his struggles, Rowe does have some pro tools that he must leverage to have a good pro career as a fifth outfielder. At the plate, Rowe doesn't really profile to be a starter at the next level, as he fails to work the count and strikes out too much, and he doesn't have any power projection to speak of. However, he's a plus runner, and that's the style of hitting he takes on, slapping the ball gap to gap. Where Rowe shines is on defense. A  true center fielder, he has plus range and an average arm, and he profiles to be able to play anywhere in the outfield with ease. Scouts know what Rowe's strengths and weaknesses are, and while they aren't high on his offensive ability, they see good value in his defensive assets, and he should be a fairly early pick because of it. Projected Draft Range: 8th-15th Round

Chance Ruffin, RHP, Texas
Ruffin came to Texas as a solid depth arm out of Lake Travis High School, and he was expected to be a solid contributor, though his pro prospects weren't great, as he lacked projectable size and a big arm. However, Ruffin was a contributor right out of the gate, and his pro prospects have steadily grown over the last three seasons. After working as a starter for most of his appearances through his first two years, Ruffin lost a starting job to the solid trio of Taylor Jungmann, Cole Green, and Brandon Workman, but scouts became intrigued with his potential in the bullpen as the closer of the best team in the nation. After being considered a depth arm for the pros as a starter, he's now worked himself into first day consideration as a reliever. Working with a 91-94 mph fastball and above-average slider, he has mowed down hitters working multiple innings in relief, showing a resilient arm. Those two pitches make him a late-inning bullpen candidate, though there is disagreement on whether he's a future closer or set-up man. Teams have had plenty of opportunities to see him, but with a good run through the end of the season, Ruffin could continue to climb. Projected Draft Range: Supplemental 1st - Early 3rd Round

Nick Rumbelow, RHP, Bullard HS, Bullard
Rumbelow has some striking similarities to Chance Ruffin above. The big difference is that Rumbelow is three years behind Ruffin as a high school prospect. A smaller pitcher with a fast arm, Rumbelow doesn't have much projectability, but he uses a pair of solid pitches to dominate high school competition. He starts out his arsenal with a low-90s fastball that has good life, and he spots it pretty well most of the time. Like with most high school pitchers, he can struggle repeating his mechanics at time, which causes him to lose control temporarily in some outings, and that's a main reason why he hasn't taken a step forward in scouting circles this spring. Rumbelow's best secondary pitch is a biting circle changeup that gets excellent late life, though he's struggled mightily to spot it this spring. It's a plus pitch already when it's on, and that's an excellent sign for success in his future. His breaking ball is a fringe-average slider without much projection left, and some scouts see him in the Trevor Hoffman tradition of late-inning relievers that rely on a fastball-changeup arsenal. However, he's committed to LSU, and while he won't start immediately, he's expected to get his chance to start there, and since he hasn't taken a big step forward this spring, a lot of scouts think he'll end up on campus. Projected Draft Range: 8th-25th Round

Cameron Rupp, C, Texas
Rupp has been a three year starter at Texas, which is impressive considering the catching depth they always seem to have. He's held onto that spot due to his defensive prowess most of the time, but he offers some of the best offensive upside of the catchers available in this class. His biggest asset offensively is plus power potential, though he loses a little batting average when swinging for the fences. He's learned to stay back a little more over time as a Longhorn, and it has helped him that Texas' home ballpark is one of the more pitching-friendly ballparks in the country traditionally. His power does translate well to wood, as he does square up the ball pretty well, but he will strike out quite often, mainly due to taking a large number of pitches. He's not necessarily fitted with the best batting eye, but he likes to wait for a pitch to drive, which can result in lost at-bats due to being passive. He's a well below-average runner, though, so he gains no value by being a singles hitter. Defensively, he has a plus arm, but his footwork will be a thing to work on in the minors. He should throw out plenty of runners when he's paired with pro pitchers and coaches, and most scouts think he could be an above-average defender. He hasn't had the best season offensively, but he's handled a very talented pitching staff quite well. He's a solid first day catching prospect. Projected Draft Range: 2nd-4th Round

Clay Schrader, RHP, San Jacinto JC
Schrader has been a fast riser on boards this spring, and like Ruffin, he has really seen his stock rise since a move to the bullpen this year. Schrader started his career at UT San Antonio, where he worked mainly as a starter with mostly positive results. However, his stuff was fringy, and most scouts thought he'd be an organizational arm when eligible for the 2011 draft. Instead, Schrader transferred out of UTSA to San Jac last fall, and he's moved into the bullpen as the closer for the top junior college team in the country. Since that move, his stuff and draft stock have risen quickly, and he's a darkhorse for a first day selection. He now consistently works in the 92-94 mph range with a plus slider and average curveball, and he could even stand to drop the curve in favor of a plus two-pitch mix in the late innings. What's working against Schrader is a smaller body that leaks projectability, and he struggles to get downhill plane on his fastball as a result of his smaller stature. He's not small enough that he would be classified as a diminutive righty, but it is what holds him back in terms of pro prospects. Schrader has signed with Oklahoma, and that might be a small factor in his signability, but most scouts expect he'll be one of the earliest junior college relievers taken in June. Projected Draft Range: 3rd-7th Round

John Simms, RHP, College Park HS, The Woodlands
Simms has become more well-known as the pitching arch nemesis (the two are good friends in reality) of Jameson Taillon from neighboring The Woodlands High, but he's an excellent prospect in his own right. A projectable right-handed arm, Simms also has some of the best current pitchability in the high school class. However, scouts openly wonder whether they can sign Simms away from a Rice scholarship, as he isn't projected to go quite early enough to warrant a large bonus that he might need to forego the Rice commitment. It's a question to be answered, but Simms has done everything he needs to do to keep his name forefront in scouts' minds. Despite not having a current plus fastball, Simms' projectability and command makes the 89-92 mph pitch play up to be above-average with plus potential. He mixes in a potential plus slider and average changeup, and that combination is all well-commanded and well-mixed. His ceiling might be as a #3 starter, and while that's not the most attractive idea from a prep arm, there's a feeling that Simms' intelligence and command might help him outplay his projected ceiling. Odds are currently on Simms landing on campus this fall, but a team might take an early run at him, hoping to sign him for an over slot bonus. Projected Draft Range: 3rd-8th Round

Burch Smith, RHP, Howard JC
As you can tell by now, junior college pitching is a strength of the Texas class this year. Smith, though, is at the head of the class of all the names already mentioned. Smith came to Howard last year as an under-recruited right-handed pitcher with potential, but little command of a slightly above-average arsenal. However, after an erratic year that concluded with the Indians spending a 49th round pick on him, Smith took a big step forward in the fall, showing improved stuff and command. He now features a 91-93 mph fastball which touches 94-95 a few times in most outings, and he's commanding it to either side of the plate with ease. He's being more economical with his pitch counts as well, which has led scouts to think he really projects as an innings-eating #3 starter with above-average stuff and above-average command. He pitches almost exclusively off his fastball, but his secondaries, a breaking ball and change, are close to being average pitches. Those pitches limit his ultimate ceiling, but he's a very attractive option in the early rounds. He has some time left to prove his worth in the remainder of the season, and it's likely that he pitches his way out of his Oklahoma commitment and is signed quickly this summer. Projected Draft Range: Late 2nd-5th Round

Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS, The Woodlands
Taillon has been the top prospect in the 2010 high school class since the class entered high school, and he hasn't disappointed this spring. A big, hulking righty standing at an easy 6'6'', Taillon has emerged as an elite prospect, even when compared across draft history. Very rarely do right-handed high school pitchers prove themselves enough to warrant consideration for a top pick, and Taillon has done just that, though he's unlucky enough to be in the same class as Bryce Harper. He has true number one upside on the mound, and that will ultimately get him drafted within the first handful of picks. His fastball, a plus-plus pitch already, sits easily in the 93-96 range, touching 98-99 at times, and he even maintains that velocity through most of the late innings of his outings. He pairs that with a plus to plus-plus curveball that is the top breaking ball in the entire draft class, college pitchers included. He also throws a functional slider and changeup, but his bread and butter is the fastball-curve combo that could get a number of Major League hitters out already. With all this talent, Taillon's biggest question mark is his projected asking price. He's established himself as a generational high school pitcher, and his agents, the Hendricks Brothers, are notorious for getting higher prices for their select draft clients such as Aaron Crow. In addition, he's committed to Rice, a school that usually means high bonus demands from its commits. The overall bonus demands could set records, but he's expected to get it from a top team. Projected Draft Range: #3 Overall-#9 Overall

Mitchell Taylor, LHP, Spring HS, Spring
Taylor is part of an emerging high school left-handed pitching class that was rated as weak coming into the season. Though the class still lacks high-end arms from the left side, pitchers such as Taylor have added depth in the class, and teams will have plenty of left-handed arms to choose from early in the second day of the draft. Taylor himself has seen a rise in draft stock that is the result of consistently better stuff and command than where he stood after the fall. Though he doesn't have a tall pro body, he has some projection left in his 6'1'' frame, and scouts generally aren't scared off from his size. His pitch mix is solid, and most consider him a starter in the future. His fastball has bumped up a little to sitting 87-89, touching 90-91 at times, making it a solid-average pitch from the left side. He commands it rather well, and he's not afraid to attack hitters with it. He complements the fastball with a solid-average curveball and an advanced changeup for a prep arm, and the result is a likely #4 starter from the left-hand side. He's made a big step forward, but he still does have a college scholarship to Houston that might be a problem given his actual draft range for talent. He's a name to watch, though, as he could be a top ten prep left-hander taken. Projected Draft Range: 6th-12th Round

Randall Thorpe, OF, San Jacinto JC
Thorpe has been well-known for quite awhile, as he was one of the top high school athletes available in the 2008 draft out of Heritage High School in Colleyville. He fell to the 29th round in the draft, when the White Sox took him as a mere formality. He headed to Texas A&M as a highly-touted recruit, but he got next to no playing time, and he transferred out after the season was done. He made the Aggies regret it immediately when he shined in the MINK League over the summer, and he was expected to be an impact player for San Jac this spring. However, after struggling a little with pitch recognition early on, he started falling a little on draft boards. He does have plus tools, featuring average or better tools in all give categories, and his best tool is plus speed. However, he went down with an injury a couple of weeks ago, and scouts wonder if he'll be available in June. If his speed is permanently impacted, it could be a bad sign for someone who struggles with the offensive side of his game from time to time. He's already 21 without a four-year college commitment, though, so a team might take a flier on him early on in day two. Projected Draft Range: 8th-20th Round

Rett Varner, RHP, UT Arlington
Varner entered the spring as one of the better collegiate arms available, though he was already 22 when the season started. He started out the spring as the Sunday starter on a team that was better-known for having Michael Choice, and he's since improved to the Saturday role. His natural stuff is solid and has some upside, as he carries a rather thin 6'4'' frame with him to the mound. His fastball is a slightly above-average fastball in the 91-93 range, and he complements it with a solid-average curveball and changeup, and he projects as a #3/4 starter in the long run. The big concern now is durability and questionable results against relatively weak college bats, and he needs to really work on commanding his pitches down in the zone. He gives up too many home runs for the competition he faces, and even though he will always work as a fly ball pitcher, he needs to be more consistent about missing down rather than up. If he firms up his command of his secondaries, he could be a helium prospect, but for now he's an early second day arm with some potential. Projected Draft Range: 4th-7th Round

Brandon Workman, RHP, Texas
Workman came to campus as one of the more well-known freshmen in America in 2008, the result of being a 3rd round pick of the Phillies out of a Texas high school. However, it has taken him some time to mature from a thrower into a pitcher, and it wasn't until last summer that some teams saw him as a legitimate first round option on the Cape. He's helped his case with a solid junior year as the Sunday starter on one of the top two pitching rotations in America. In terms of raw stuff, Workman could be a top 15 pick, but command is the thing that holds him back. His fastball is a plus pitch that sits 91-94, and he can touch 96 at times. He struggles to command it in the upper range of that velocity range, and scouts would prefer him to use a heavier 91-93 pitch down in the zone. His curveball is one of the best breakers in the draft, but it doesn't rate as the best in Texas due to Taillon's plus-plus bender. Workman's is a power curve with plus late break, and that pair of plus pitches makes him a potential #2/3 starter in the long run. He has the frame to start 30+ games every year, and a number of teams envision him eating up innings with a few all-star level season in his prime. His stock is held back a little by not using his changeup much, but with a pair of plus pitches, he hasn't needed it to succeed against a relatively weak conference this year. He should be off the board easily in the first half of the first day of the draft. Projected Draft Range: Mid 1st-Early 2nd Round

The next state up will be Mississippi. Ten points to the person who can figure out the order I'm going in for this series.