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Draft : : State Preview
State Preview: Utah
Allan Simpson        
Published: Monday, May 14, 2012

In the weeks leading up to the draft, Perfect Game will be providing a detailed overview of each state in the U.S., including the District of Columbia, as well as Canada and Puerto Rico. These overviews will list the state's strengths, weaknesses and the players with the best tools, as well as providing scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.



Contributing: David Rawnsley

Utah State-by-State List
2011 Utah Overview

Utah Overview:
Eventful, Topsy-Turvy Year Highlights Utah’s 2012 Draft

This has been a year of significant change in Utah’s college and high-school ranks, and hardly any stone has gone unturned. Most of the overhaul has come at the college level, which has seen a significant shift in conference affiliations (with additional changes possibly still to come), along with a shakeup in the pecking order of the state’s better prospects for the draft.

The wheels were set in motion prior to the season when long-time conference rivals Brigham Young and Utah broke away from the Mountain West Conference and went their separate ways—Utah to the Pacific-12 Conference, BYU to the West Coast Conference. It was then announced, just prior to the season, that Southern Utah, a member of the Summit Conference, would be dropping intercollegiate baseball following the 2012 season, and there have been rumblings through the spring that Utah Valley, the state’s fourth Division I program, is on the verge of leaving the Great West Conference—whether by their own choice, or simple dissolution of the nation’s most-awkward and far-flung college-baseball alignment.

Of those colleges, Utah Valley stands out from the rest, as the Wolverines may be the hottest team in the country with a 24-game winning streak entering the second weekend of May. Utah’s foray into the rugged Pac-12 has proven to be a challenge, as the Utes (12-33 overall, 6-18 in conference), having lost their best bat and arm to the draft a year ago (including slugging first baseman Chris Cron, a first-rounder), have been ravaged by injury and key players haven't produced as initially expected.

Junior righthander Zach Adams, expected to be Utah’s ace and a possible top-5-round pick, was shut down after two starts with a sore shoulder, while senior outfielder Shaun Cooper (.236-8-26) hasn't been the same player that slugged 20 homers and tore up the Northwoods League last summer. BYU sophomore righthander Adam Miller, who flashed a mid-90s fastball early in the season after returning to school from two years on a Mormon mission, has had difficulty throwing strikes and hasn't pitched much recently as a result.

Because of that, it appears that only one college player, Utah closer Tyler Wagner, will crack the first 10 rounds of the draft, though he has been difficult for scouts to see with so few save opportunities for the Utes. With its impressive season, Utah Valley (35-11, even after a 2-8 start) has two prospects that are given a reasonable shot of sneaking into the top 10 rounds in sophomore righthander Tyler Mangum, another returning missionary who sat out a second season in 2011 as a non-qualifier, but has flashed two dominant pitches this spring in a low- to mid-90s fastball and mid-80s slider, and power-hitting senior first baseman Goose Kallunki, who besides having one of the best names in college baseball leads the Division I ranks in RBI.

Utah Valley’s success among four-year colleges has been matched at the junior-college level by Salt Lake Community College (40-8), a top-10 team nationally that should have at least two players factor significantly in the draft in fleet outfielders Dominique Taylor and Braden Anderson, and possibly a third in ace righthander Tanner Banks (10-0, 2.40).

Heading into the 2012 season, Spanish Fork High two-way standout Kayden Porter was expected to be the state’s top prep draft—either as a hitter or pitcher. Scouts continue to be split as to where his future lies as he set the state record for career homers. Another significant two-way player, Brigham High’s Connor Williams, primarily a hitter prior to his senior year, is now a more highly-rated pitcher after a breakout season on the mound. With Porter and Williams leading the way, Utah is practically guaranteed to have a more productive high-school draft than in 2011, when no players were selected.

Utah in a nutshell:

STRENGTH:
High-school pitching.
WEAKNESS: Draftable college talent.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 3.

BEST COLLEGE TEAM:
Utah Valley.
BEST JUNIOR-COLLEGE TEAM: Salt Lake.
BEST HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: Bingham HS, South Jordan.

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Connor Williams, rhp/of, Bingham HS, South Jordan.
Initially perceived by scouts as primarily a position player for purposes of this year’s draft, Williams predictably has led his top-ranked team in most offensive categories this spring. However, with a renewed emphasis on becoming more of a factor as a pitcher, and a fastball that has touched 96 mph this spring, Williams’ profile has changed 180 degrees, and he has made such a fast impression on scouts in his brief time on the mound that he is now expected to be the state’s first high-school draft.

WILD CARD: Kayden Porter, 1b/rhp, Spanish Fork HS.
Porter is a man-child in his mammoth 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame, and has been the dominant player in the 2012 draft class in Utah all the way through high school. Though he broke the state record for career homers this spring and has flashed a 95-mph fastball in the past, scouts began questioning if Porter was better suited as a pitching or positional prospect at the next level.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Utah Connection:
Travis Huber, rhp, University of Nebraska (Attended high school in Salt Lake City).
Top 2013 Prospect: Brady Corless, rhp/3b, Bingham HS, South Jordan.
Top 2014 Prospect: Jordy Hart, of, Utah Valley University.

HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS

Draft History:
Cory Snyder, 3b, Brigham Young University (1984, Indians/1st round, 4th pick).
2006 Draft: John Holdzkom, rhp, Salt Lake CC (Mets/4th round).
2007 Draft: Garrett Nash, ss, Jordan HS, Draper (Rangers/4th round).
2008 Draft: Stephen Fife, rhp, University of Utah (Red Sox/3rd round).
2009 Draft: Steve Parker, 3b, Brigham Young University (Athletics/5th round).
2010 Draft: Marcus Littlewood, ss, Pine View HS, St. George (Mariners/2nd round).
2011 Draft: C.J. Cron, 1b, University of Utah (Angels/1st round, 14th pick).

2011 DRAFT OVERVIEW

College Players Drafted/Signed:
4/4.
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 1/0.
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 0-0.

BEST TOOLS

Best Athlete:
Connor Williams, rhp/of, Bingham HS, South Jordan.
Best Hitter: Goose Kallunki, 1b, Utah Valley University,
Best Power: Goose Kallunki, 1b, Utah Valley University; Kayden Porter, 1b/rhp, Spanish Fork HS.
Best Speed: Braden Anderson, of, Salt Lake CC.
Best Defender: Joe Andrade, c, Dixie State College.
Best Velocity: Connor Williams, rhp/of, Bingham HS, South Jordan.
Best Breaking Stuff: Tyler Wagner, rhp, University of Utah.
Best Pitchability: Brady Lail, rhp, Bingham HS, South Jordan.

TOP PROSPECTS, GROUPS ONE and TWO

GROUP ONE
(Projected ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)

NONE

GROUP TWO
(Projected HIGH-Round Draft / Rounds 4-10)

1. TYLER WAGNER, rhp, University of Utah (Jr.)
The rangy 6-foot-3, 195-pound Wagner has an explosive arm with a fastball that frequently touches 95 mph and gets on hitters quickly from a three-quarters slot. He also has a second plus pitch in a power slider, giving him two weapons needed to excel as a closer. Wagner had only two saves in 17 appearances in early May, though as his opportunity to close out games was limited. At the same time, Wagner struggles to throw strikes consistently, which led to a 2-5, 3.98 record, while walking 21 and striking out 29 in 32 innings. Had he pitched more like he did in 2011, Wagner might have been a fit as early as the third round, though is still expected to be the state’s top pick.


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