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.
Colorado State-by-State List
Off Year For Colorado, One of Draft’s Most Unappreciated States
Colorado rarely gets its
due for producing the volume of baseball talent that is typically
churned out of the state’s high schools each year. Over the last
seven drafts, a total of 145 players (roughly 21 per year) were
selected that played baseball at Colorado high schools.
States like Kentucky
(119) and Kansas (115) have greater reputations for producing
baseball talent than Colorado does, but lag far behind. Other
mainstream states such as South Carolina (151), Mississippi (152) and
Indiana (154) barely outstrip Colorado’s normal annual production.
It’s all about
perception vs. reality, and Colorado’s reputation undoubtedly
suffers because of the paucity of meaningful Division I baseball
institutions in the state. Colorado’s only remaining D-I baseball
programs are the Air Force Academy and Northern Colorado—two
schools that are hardly-known for funneling players on to
late-spring weather conditions that blanket Colorado typically play
havoc with baseball schedules, and is the chief culprit in mainstream
colleges like Colorado and Colorado State abandoning their programs
through the years. Given few options at home, Colorado’s best prep
talent inevitably ends up at D-I programs in other, more
baseball-friendly states. When the cream of the crop is subsequently
drafted after three years in college, Colorado generally receives
little or no credit for their development.
The simple fact of the
matter is that almost all of the best talent in Colorado gets
siphoned out of the state each year. Just last year, 20 players
signed with out-of-state Division I colleges, the most noteworthy
being righthander Kevin Gausman, who is a prime-time player at
Louisiana State and projects as a first-round pick in the 2012 draft.
Hochevar, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 draft, and third baseman
Jeff King, the top selection in 1986, further accentuate the point.
Hochevar grew up in Colorado and attended high school in Wray, but
spent his college career at Tennessee because there were no
equivalent major-college options in his home state. King, a Colorado
Springs product, developed his baseball skills at Arkansas.
Because of these
developments, the state rarely gets the credit it deserves as a
talent source. This year’s draft won’t enhance Colorado’s
Only one Colorado player,
Grandview Prep catcher Greg Bird, is expected to be drafted in the
top 10 rounds directly out on in-state school this year. He should be
taken any time after the fourth round, and would otherwise attend
college at Arkansas if he elects not to sign.
Once again this year,
almost every Colorado high-school player with even an outside shot of
being drafted, roughly 15 players in all, has a college scholarship
offer to an out-of-state Division I program. In addition to Arkansas,
schools such as Columbia, Creighton, Duke, Evansville, Kansas,
Michigan, Nebraska, Pepperdine and Wichita State have come into
Colorado and pretty much picked the state clean again.
Fewer than normal premium
former Colorado high-school players attending college elsewhere are
expected to be taken this year. Only three such players—Howard
(Texas) JC righthander/outfielder Derrick Bleeker, University of
Arizona third baseman Andy Burns and Central Arizona righthander Zach
Dando—have a realistic chance of being drafted in the first 10
rounds. There is no player of Hochevar’s or King’s skill level in
All that evidence
suggests that this will not be a good draft for Colorado talent, even
by its own unappreciated standard.
Not since well-traveled
big-league outfielder Darnell McDonald, a 1998 draft pick who is a
reserve player with the Boston Red Sox, has Colorado had a
high-school first-rounder. But in a three-year period from 1993-95,
the state actually had four first-rounders with Colorado roots,
highlighted by Philadelphia Phillies righthanders Roy Halladay and
Brad Lidge, both of whom graduated from Colorado high schools in
At one point last year,
when he was Bird’s batterymate at Grandview Prep, Gausman looked
like he may end Colorado’s 12-year drought. He showed all the
indications of being one of the nation’s elite prep arms, with a
fastball consistently in the mid-90s, but teams ultimately got cold
feet and Gausman slid to the sixth round. His situation was clearly
dictated by signability issues, not talent, as Gausman turned down a
reported $1.7 million bonus offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers at
last year’s signing deadline.
Gausman will be
draft-eligible again as an LSU sophomore, and should have another
golden opportunity to pursue first-round bonus money as he is one of
the elite talents in this year’s college freshman class.
Though Bird may end up
going in roughly the same draft position this year that Gausman did a
year ago, there won’t be any confusion by big-league clubs that
they are roughly equivalent talents.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound
Bird has superior hitting skills and has enjoyed back-to-back
productive seasons, hitting .660-13-42 with a 1.766 slugging average
as a junior and .591-12-37 with a 1.568 slugging average as a senior.
It’s apparent, though, that Bird will have to take all his hitting
skills to first base in the future as he struggles with his big frame
behind the plate.
With his big bat, Bird
led Grandview Prep to a No. 1 seed in this year’s Colorado 5-A
state tournament, but his team bowed out quietly in district play
without even advancing to the Final Eight. Four-time defending state
champion Rocky Mountain High also fell.
Bird is the only Colorado
player pretty much assured of being drafted in the top 10 rounds this
year, but two others would have been in the mix had they not
Regis Jesuit High
outfielder Connor McKay, who hit .429 with 10 homers as a junior,
might have challenged Bird to become the state’s first draft, but
he tore the ACL in his knee playing football last Dec. 4, and missed
almost the entire 2011 baseball season. At one point, the 6-foot-6,
190-pound McKay was cleared to hit, but not run the bases, and he
didn’t become a full-time player again until a game or two was left
in his season.
Chances are a team will
take a mid-round flier on McKay, who has an intriguing package of raw
power, speed and arm strength, and monitor his progress through the
summer before making a decision on trying to sign him. He has
committed to Kansas.
Maltos-Garcia was also seen as a solid bet to go in the top 10 rounds
after going 11-1, 2.11 with 139 strikeouts in 94 innings for Lamar
Community College. But Maltos-Garcia, who has a 91-93 mph fastball
and an excellent breaking ball, walked off the mound in his final
start of the season at the National Junior College Athletic
Association Western District tournament clutching his elbow. His
status for the draft is unclear.
normally-lean college ranks actually had the potential to have a
player drafted in the top 10 rounds this year, but Northern Colorado
outfielder Jarod Berggren (.363-7-56) may not have done enough with
the bat to build on his success from last summer in the Alaaka
League. It’s now a toss-up whether Berggren or another Alaska
League alum, Mesa State outfielder Jeff Popick (.417-11-47) will be
the initial four-year player drafted.
From the standpoint of
making an impact nationally at the four-year college level, Colorado
hasn’t been a factor since the mid-1970s. In successive years,
University of Colorado catcher John Stearns (a future big-league
all-star) was the No. 2 pick in the 1973 draft; the University of
Northern Colorado reached the College World Series in 1974 (for the
10th time in school history, but the last time by a
Colorado college team) and the powerful Boulder Collegians summer
club, with a roster loaded with future major leaguers, won the 1975
National Baseball Congress World Series (the Collegians repeated the
feat in 1978).
But that was 30-plus
years ago. The Buffaloes haven’t fielded a baseball team in years
and the Collegians are long-since defunct. Only Northern Colorado
survives, and even the Bears abandoned their baseball program for a
number of years before later reinstating it. The team has never been
a factor in the draft.
Colorado in a
Out-of-state talent with Colorado connections.
WEAKNESS: Depth in
(1-to-5 scale): 2.
BEST COLLEGE TEAM:
Mesa State (NCAA Division II).
BEST HIGH SCHOOL TEAM:
Grandview Prep, Aurora.
PROSPECT, Colorado Connection: Andy Burns, 3b, University of
Arizona (attended high school in Fort Collins).
TOP 2012 PROSPECT:
Ryan Burr, rhp, Highlands Ranch HS.
TOP 2013 PROSPECT:
HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS
Luke Hochevar, rhp, Wray (2006, Royals/1st round, 1st pick).
2006 Draft: Luke
Hochevar, rhp, Wray (Royals/1st round, 1st pick).
2007 Draft: Colin
Allen, rhp, Lamar CC (Orioles/22nd round).
2008 Draft: Tyler
Sample, rhp, Mullen HS, Denver (Royals/3rd round).
2009 Draft: Geoff
Baldwin, 1b, Grand Junction HS (Royals/10th round).
2010 Draft: Kevin
Gausman, rhp, Grandview Prep, Aurora (Dodgers/6th round).
TOP PROSPECTS, GROUPS
ONE and TWO
TWO (Projected HIGH-Round Draft /
GREG BIRD, c/1b, Grandview Prep, Aurora
highest-profile talent; ++ LH power bat (.591-12-37) will carry him;
making inevitable switch to 1B.
ARTURO MALTOS-GARCIA, rhp, Lamar CC
unclear after apparent elbow injury; 6th-10th
round talent (91-93 FB/+ CU), + year (11-1, 94 IP/139 K).