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 mini-scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players.
Arizona State-by-State List
JC Player, Two
High-School Talents Upstage Traditional College Powers
With eight national
championships between them, plus a steady procession of future
big-league ball players that have passed through their schools, the
University of Arizona and Arizona State University have thoroughly
dominated the Arizona baseball landscape since the draft’s
inception in 1965. They are the state’s only two Division I schools
and no program nationally has had more players drafted overall than
the Sun Devils.
While both schools will
play their usual primary role in this year’s draft proceedings, the
best prospect in Arizona will probably come from the junior-college
ranks, mercurial Central Arizona outfielder Keenyn Walker.
Moreover, the two best
draft storylines in the state this spring have probably been at the
prep level, involving Mountain Pointe High catcher Kevin Cron,
Arizona’s No. 1-ranked high-school prospect, and his
record-breaking 2011 home-run exploits, and Notre Dame Prep
righthander Tayler Scott, a South Africa native, and his improbable
rise in prospect status to No. 2 among high-school players in the
ASU and Arizona,
meanwhile, will still play a significant role in the draft, producing
perhaps as many as 10-12 picks between them in the first 10 rounds.
But it is highly unlikely that either school will yield a player in
the first round, especially with so many players on both teams
becoming susceptible to the pronounced change in the bat standards at
the college level that have seen batting averages and power numbers
take a sharp dip throughout the country.
Players like Arizona
State junior second baseman Zack MacPhee (.389-9-64 in 2010,
.278-1-23 in 2011), junior first baseman/outfielder Zach Wilson
(.349-8-45 in 2010, .259-5-41 in 2011) and junior outfielder Johnny
Ruettiger (.351-4-35 in 2010, .327-0-28 in 2011), plus Arizona junior
catcher Jett Bandy (.354-6-42 in 2010, .265-0-33 in 2011) and junior
outfielder Steve Selsky (.370-9-52 in 2010, .219-2-11 in 2011), in
particular, have all experienced significant downturns in their
In most cases, the
falloff has significantly impacted the draft status of the players.
Wilson, Bandy and Selsky are the biggest power threats in that
quintet, and have probably been hurt the most. MacPhee was the
Pacific-10 Conference player of the year in 2010, and that honor
should still hold him in good standing with scouts. But he has been
largely exposed this spring for what he is: a solid college second
baseman with limited offensive upside.
Ruettiger was viewed in
some quarters as a first-round long shot for this year’s draft
after capturing the Cape Cod League batting title last summer, at
.369. But with his drop in production, a below-average arm and the
lack of true raw speed needed to play in the middle have suddenly
come more squarely info focus. He is no longer seen as an everyday
center fielder at the professional level, and the new bats have
exposed his almost complete lack of power, which makes left field an
unlikely option if he can’t cut it in center. With his inability
now to profile a position, Ruettiger’s draft stock may plummet.
While the true draft
status of those players has been a challenge for scouts to properly
evaluate this spring, they have at least been seen on a recurring
basis against the top-flight pitching that exists in the Pac-10. The
same cannot be said for Arizona third baseman Andy Burns.
He was ineligible to play
in 2011 while in the process of transferring from Kentucky. Burns was
seen as a possible second- or third-rounder last summer, following a
fine season in the Cape Cod League, but his status after sitting out
the spring season is more problematic.
The performance of every
Arizona college player has not suffered this spring, though.
Junior righthander Kyle
Simon (9-3) leads Arizona in wins, sophomore-eligible first baseman
Cole Frenzel tops the Wildcats in batting (.374) and senior
lefthander Matt Chaffeee is tops on the team in saves (6), and the
strong performance of each has significantly boosted their stock in
The two biggest surprises
in the state, though, could be 6-foot-4, 245-pound Arizona lefthander
Bryce Bandilla, who failed to wrestle the UA closer’s job away from
Chaffee, and yet remains the favorite to be the first college player
drafted. His fastball has remained steadily in the mid-90s, though he
struggles to command his stuff.
The biggest draft
surprise of all may be seldom-used ASU outfielder Brandon Magee, who
has gotten just 12 at-bats all spring, and struck out on nine
occasions. A star linebacker for the Sun Devils football team, Magee
is a superior athlete and has displayed his massive raw power in
batting practice. It is entirely possible a team could pop him by the
fifth or sixth rounds.
No player in the state,
though, has flashed athletic ability on a daily basis quite like
Walker, the Arizona junior college player of the year. He has the
best chance of being drafted first of any the talent after hitting
.396-4-48 with 63 stolen bases in 66 attempts. Walker’s speed is a
significant asset on the bases and in center field, but he also has
all the other tools. He has made huge strides this spring in his
approach at the plate, driving balls hard to all fields.
While Walker’s speed is
his best asset and there isn’t a faster runner in the state, the
junior-college ranks also boast the hardest thrower. Yavapai JC
righthander Kenny Giles has been clocked as high as 98-99 mph,
enabling him to strike out hitters at the rate of 15.75 per nine
innings. He has more issues than Walker, but could join Walker as a
second JC player in the top 3-4 rounds.
At the high-school level,
the talk of Arizona much of the spring has been the hitting exploits
of Cron, who could join his older brother C.J., a first baseman at
the University of Utah, in the top 2-3 rounds. Both rank among the
elite hitters/power hitters in the country.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound
Cron has enjoyed a record-breaking senior season by systematically
demolishing Arizona prep home-run records. He finished with 27 homers
on the season, easily topping the prior record of 22, set in 1999 by
Desert Ridge High’s Corey Myers (the fourth overall pick in that
year’s draft) and tied a year ago by Cron himself. He also hit 59
long balls over his career, 15 more than the old Arizona standard,
and ended the 2011 season with a batting average near .600.
For all of his prowess as
a power threat, Cron was the winningest pitcher this season for
Mountain Pointe High. He outdueled Gilbert High’s Stephen Tarpley,
possibly the best high-school pitching prospect in Arizona for this
year’s draft, by a 2-1 score in a playoff game with a fastball that
topped out at 92 mph. He subsequently led his team to the state
5-A/Division I title by going all eight innings of a hard-fought, 7-6
win in the championship game. He struck out 14, and also went an
uncharacteristic 0-for-4 in the game.
avenged his team’s loss in the final a year earlier, even while
clubbing his then-record-tying 22nd
home run. He also played that game with an aggravating stress
fracture in his left foot, and though he did not have to subsequently
undergo surgery, he was forced to rehab the injury the remainder of
Cron, who is the son of
former major leaguer Chris Cron, currently the manager of Double-A
Erie in the Detroit Tigers system, has exceptional hands for hitting.
Combined with sound mechanics and his big frame, he can seriously
juice balls. While his brother is considered the better overall
hitter of the two, Kevin has greater natural raw power. He is more
likely to loft balls, and has cleared his share of light towers in
his rising young career.
draft stock may be suppressed a bit because his signability could be
a little tricky. He’s a solid student (3.96 GPA) with a scholarship
offer to Texas Christian. With his family’s background in the game,
plus his brother’s progression from a 44th-rounder
in 2008 to potential first-rounder this year after three prolific
seasons in college, he may be in no hurry to begin his professional
For all of Cron’s
obvious prowess at the plate, his story may actually be less
compelling than Taylor’s. The 6-foot-1 righthander is a native of
Johannesburg, South Africa, and didn’t take up baseball seriously
until he moved to Arizona two years ago, all with the express purpose
of becoming the first player from South Africa to play in the big
leagues. His parents continue to keep their primary home in South
Africa, and regularly travel back and forth to watch their son pitch.
At the time he arrived in
the U.S., Taylor’s fastball was an unimpressive 84 mph. But with
all the coaching available to him in this country, he had elevated
his velocity into the mid-90s this spring.
Cron and Taylor aside,
Arizona high schools are not expected to make a big impact on this
year’s draft. But they should continue to make the same, steady
progress they have made in recent years.
Over the seven-year
period from 2004-10, Arizona high schools produced the fifth-most
players (347) who were drafted (whether directly out of high school,
or subsequently out of college), among all 50 states. That standing
is notable as Arizona high schools were almost a non-factor as a
talent source when the draft was implemented in 1965. It was all
about Arizona State and Arizona, and ASU outfielder was appropriately
the first pick in the very first draft.
In 1969, only 19 players
were drafted who came from Arizona’s prep ranks. By 1989, that
numbers was 37. Two year ago, it was 57—representing a 300 percent
increase over a 40-year period, the greatest increase of any state in
Arizona in a Nutshell:
Depth of college/JC talent.
High-end college talent.
(1-to-5 scale): 3.
HIGH SCHOOL TEAM:
Mountain Pointe, Phoenix.
ON THE RISE: Keenyn Walker, of, Central Arizona.
His superior speed continues to be his best tool, but Walker has
flashed five-tool potential this year, elevating him from a potential
top-10 round pick to a potential first-round pick.
ON THE DECLINE: Zach Wilson, 1b, Arizona State.
Wilson had shown signs of becoming a significant draft pick at
various stages of his high-school, college and summer-league careers,
but things regressed significantly this spring as he hit just .259,
lowest average among ASU regulars. He also spent the entire spring at
first base after initially showing signs that he might settle into a
more-demanding corner-outfield position. He’ll still showcase
occasional thunder, but not much else.
CARD: Andy Burns, 3b, University of Arizona. He
was forced to sit out the 2011 season while transferring from
Kentucky, so remains a bit of a mystery to Arizona-based scouts.
Based on his performance with wood last summer in the Cape Cod
League, where he flashed power potential, and also led the league
with 25 stolen bases while playing a solid third base, he could
emerge as a second-round pick just as easy as he could a sixth- to
OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Arizona Connection:
C.J. Cron, 1b, University of Utah (attended high school in Phoenix).
Deven Marrero, ss, Arizona State.
2013 PROSPECT: Konnor
Wade, rhp, University of Arizona.
HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS
Rick Monday, of, Arizona State U. (1965, Athletics/1st round, 1st pick); Floyd Bannister, lhp, Arizona State U. (1976, Astros/1st round, 1st pick); Bob Horner, 3b, Arizona State U. (1978, Braves/1st round, 1st pick).
Donald, ss, U. of Arizona (Phillies/3rd round).
Alderson, rhp, Horizon HS, Phoenix (Giants/1st round, 22nd pick).
Wallace, 3b, Arizona State U. (Cardinals/1st round, 13th pick).
Leake, rhp, Arizona State U. (Reds/1st round, 8th pick).
Lindsey, ss, Desert Mountain HS, Scottsdale (Angels/1st round, 37th pick).
Torrez, 3b, Arizona State University.
Kevin Cron, c, Mountain Pointe HS, Phoenix.
Keenyn Walker, of, Central Arizona CC.
Johnny Ruettiger, of, Arizona State University.
Giles, rhp, Yavapai JC.
Matt Chaffee, lhp, University of Arizona.
TOP PROSPECTS, GROUPS
ONE and TWO
ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)
KEENYN WALKER, of, Central Arizona CC (So.)
improvement; ++ athlete, became ball player in 2011; ++ speed on
bases/CF, better contact.
BRYCE BANDILLA, lhp, University of Arizona (Jr.)
arm in 6-4 LHP; FB up to 95, shaky command (4-2, 3.63, 40 IP/31 BB),
struggles to repeat delivery.
KYLE SIMON, rhp, University of Arizona (Jr.)
arm, most success (9-3, 2.69, 104 IP/10 BB/73 SO) at UA; ton of
ground balls on 2-seam FB, up to 92.
KEVIN CRON, c/rhp, Mountain Pointe HS, Phoenix
frame (6-5/250), ++ bloodlines; light-tower power (49 HR last 2
years), limited as C, faces move to 1B.
KENNY GILES, rhp, Yavapai JC (So.)
IP/success in 3 years; ++ hot/cold, FB at 90-95, also 98, SL is WIP;
++ arm, room for development.
RICCIO TORREZ, 3b/1b, Arizona State University (Jr.)
anywhere in IF, but found home at 3B, not flashy/gets job done; bat
plays (.314-3-41), enough power.
HIGH-Round Draft / Rounds 4-10)
TAYLER SCOTT, rhp, Notre Dame Prep, Scottsdale
South Africa background; made huge strides in 2 years, + upside; FB
up to 93, can spin break ball.
JOHNNY RUETTIGER, of, Arizona State University (Jr.)
bat (.327-0-28), tracks balls ++ in CF, + speed; almost no extra-base
pop, arm more suited for LF.
ANDY BURNS, 3b, University of Arizona (ineligible)
3B, unknown since sat out 2011 season; solid player/tools, + run,
flashes power, solid defender.
TREY FORD, ss, South Mountain JC (So.)
player, headed for Texas Tech; made ++ strides at plate (.364-2-32),
in field; versatile, arm/speed OK.
STEPHEN TARPLEY, lhp, Gilbert HS
HS player (.378-4-15; 3-2, 3.50, 30 IP/7 BB/47 SO); upside on mound
with loose arm, 93 FB, + break.
ZACH WILSON, 1b/of, Arizona State University (Jr.)
at plate in 2011 (.259-5-41), failed to secure OF job; occasional
pull power is only real tool.
MICHAEL HOWARD, lhp/of, Prescott HS
with projectable frame/stuff, clean arm stroke; FB up to 93, CU lacks
sharpness; 1.20, 56 IP/108 SO.
ZACH DANDO, rhp, Central Arizona CC (So.)
CAC ace (9-3, 1.68, 80 IP/79 SO) in 2011; better command of 88-91 FB,
+ SL, has developed a CH.
ZACK MacPHEE, 2b, Arizona State University (Jr.)
top player in 2010, on downslide; small frame, Pedroia-type player,
sprays balls, just OK speed/arm.
COLE FRENZEL, 1b, University of Arizona (So.)
North Dakota product; + LH bat, surprising pop (.374-3-42); settled
in at 1B, enough arm for 3B.
BRANDON MAGEE, of, Arizona State University (Jr.)
athlete/linebacker on FB team; 12 AB all year, lacks rhythm in swing,
++ raw power in BP, surprise draft.
MATT CHAFFEE, lhp, University of Arizona (Sr.)
issues in past; better pitcher than Bandilla (No. 1); loose arm,
aggressive approach, FB to 92, ++ CU.
MAX ROSSITER, c, Central Arizona CC (So.)
year at plate (.326-3-30); question always his arm, now average; +
receiver; hurt in 2010, ASU in 2012.
ZACH DAVIES, rhp/ss, Mesquite HS, Gilbert
overall HS pitcher in state (12-0, 1.68), flashes 4 solid pitches, FB
up to 90; slight frame limits future.
MIKEY REYNOLDS, ss, Paradise Valley CC (So.)
approach, L-D bat, but small frame limits upside at plate (.389-0-30,
29 SB); + speed, profiles as 2B.
MITCH LAMBSON, lhp, Arizona State (Jr.)
put gun away to scout him; FB 86-87, keep hitters off balance with ++
CH; history of success at ASU.
KRAMER CHAMPLIN, rhp, Arizona State (Jr.)
overpowering at 6-4/210, tops at 90; gets + ground-balls (7-2, 3.08,
88 IP/67 SO) with sinker/SL combo.
ZAK MILLER, rhp, Yavapai JC (So.)
RHP/transfer from New Mexico; 6-4/195 frame, flashes + FB/SL, 7-2,
2.18, delivery needs work.
TYLER PARMENTER, rhp/ss, Cibola HS, Yuma
2-way talent; FB up to 94 on mound, arm big tool at SS; can run,
swing bat (.354-1-14); UA bound.