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.
Missouri State-by-State List
Stands Out Among Thin Crop of Missouri Prospects
It wasn’t a streak that
talent-rich states like California, Florida or Texas would pay much
attention to, but for a mid-level talent-producer like Missouri, it
was a noteworthy achievement.
In each year from
2006-09, a college pitcher from the Show-Me State was drafted in the
first round, starting with Missouri righthander Max Scherzer
(Diamondbacks) in 2006, Missouri State lefthander Ross Detwiler
(Nationals) in 2007, Missouri righthander Aaron Crow (Nationals) in
2008 and Missouri righthander Kyle Gibson (Twins) two years ago.
Three of the four have
pitched in the big leagues already, with Gibson, who is pitching well
in Triple-A, on the brink.
In addition to those
impressive arms, Holt High righthander Tim Melville (4th round/Royals) in 2008 and Westminster Christian Academy righthander
Jacob Turner (1st round/Tigers) in 2009 were widely
considered to be among the top high-school arms in their respective
classes. Melville slipped in the draft because of signability
concerns, but was eventually given the equivalent of a first-round
run in the draft all came crashing down in 2010, when no player from
the state was picked in the first five rounds. University of Missouri
catcher Brett Nicholas was the first in-state player taken off the
board, going to the Texas Rangers in the sixth round. He was quickly
followed two picks later by Missouri State lefthander Mike Kickham
greatest impact on the 2010 draft occurred in the 16th and
17th rounds. South Harrison High lefthander Jordan Shipers
was claimed in the 16th round by the Toronto Blue Jays,
while Lee’s Summit High righthander Ryan Hafner was selected a
round later by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It was readily apparent
to most scouts that Shipers had the ability to be drafted much
higher, but his high school didn’t field a baseball team. So he was
forced to improvise during the spring and summer in order to get
exposure from scouts. He pitched during the spring in the Perfect
Game-sponsored Iowa Spring League, and didn’t overly distinguish
himself, causing his stock in the draft to tumble. He reasserted
himself last summer, pitching for Las Vegas in the California
Collegiate League, and the Blue Jays rewarded him with an eye-opening
$800,000 bonus, equivalent to early second-round money.
The 6-foot-6 Hafner was
not as well known to scouts, or as highly-regarded a prospect as
Shipers, but he still commanded the second highest bonus given to a
Missouri player in 2010. He received $450,000 from the Pirates just
before the Aug. 16 signing deadline.
Perhaps it was a sign of
the times in the state, but the big loser when Shipers and Hafner
signed late was Missouri State, which had signed both pitchers, and
was otherwise left holding an empty bag.
If the 2010 draft left
Missouri cold, the pickings in this year’s draft could be even
slimmer. Warsaw High shortstop Johnny Eierman is the only player in
the state that was heavily cross-checked, and may end up being the
only player picked in the first 4-5 rounds.
Eierman comes from a
small west-central Missouri town, where quality competition is
limited. So his dad, John, who was a 13th-round pick in
1991 out of Rice University and is his son’s baseball coach at
Warsaw High, made a point of finding the best competition possible
for his son last summer. In turn, Johnny excelled on the summer
showcase circuit with his combination of power and speed (clocked in
6.41 seconds in the 60 at the Area Code Games), and clearly elevated
his worth entering the 2011 season with his strong showing. He
followed up this spring by hitting .571-10-33, while stealing 24
Eierman flashes all five
tools, and although he is still somewhat raw in his approach to
hitting and has a choppy, unrefined swing, the biggest question
scouts have concerns the lack of a clear, defineable position
defensively. He has the arm strength to play on the left side, but
Eierman lacks the proper actions of a shortstop. Either center field
or second base is a potential destination at the next level. Eierman
has signed with Louisiana State should he decide to pass on an
immediate career in pro ball.
After Eierman, the
Missouri high-school class is muddled. McCluer High outfielder Lance
Jeffries rates a slight edge to become the second Missouri prep
player drafted after Eierman. The two have very similar toolsets,
including raw bat speed, foot speed and arm strength, but Jeffries is
even more unrefined in his approach than Eierman.
Just as the current
Missouri draft crop created little buzz around the state, it was also
a relatively uneventful year at the college level.
Missouri State gets the
nod as the top college team in the state by posting a 32-21 record
heading into the Missouri Valley Conference tournament. It also
defeated in-state rival Missouri, 5-2 and 5-0, in their annual
home-and-home, mid-week series. Missouri finished the regular season
at 24-30, but managed to claim the eighth and final seed in the Big
12 Conference tournament.
righthander Matt Stites and slender Missouri State second baseman
Kevin Medrano head up a mediocre college draft drop, even though
Stites produced no better than a 3-5, 3.69 record this season, though
did strike out a team high 72 batters in 85 innings. Despite his
small frame, Stites has an unusually live arm and easily the best
stuff and command on the Missouri staff. He can mix four pitches,
including a low-90s fastball.
Medrano, a three-time
All-Missouri Valley League pick, has managed to preserve his draft
worth despite seeing batting his average drop from .410 as a
sophomore to .320 this spring. Though he has little or no power,
Medrano can capably use the whole field offensively, plays with
passion and is a quality defender at second.
The most successful team
in Missouri this spring was Jefferson College, which earned a berth
in the Junior College World Series. The Vikings (43-20) may also have
the best arm in the state, college or high school, in 6-foot-6,
215-pound freshman lefthander Dane Gronewald, who contributed a 6-2,
2.79 record to Jefferson’s drive to a national-tournament berth.
At athletic southpaw with
a loose, deceptive arm, Gronewald can flash above-average velocity to
righthanded hitters while neutralizing lefthanders with his off-speed
Missouri in a
WEAKNESS: Depth in
(1-to-5 scale): 2
BEST COLLEGE TEAM:
BEST HIGH-SCHOOL TEAM:
Rockbridge HS, Columbia.
PROSPECT ON THE RISE:
Johnny Eierman, ss/of, Warsaw HS. Eierman stands head and
shoulders above any other prospect in the state, and could go as high
as the sandwich round. He’s nowhere close to a finished product as
a hitter, and currently plays a position he won’t likely see again
as a pro, but he’s so gifted athletically that the scouts don’t
seem to care where he’ll eventually play.
PROSPECT ON THE
DECLINE: The University of Missouri roster. There was a
time in the recent past when Missouri was churning out first-round
draft picks on an annual basis, and attracting choice recruits from
all across the Midwest. Those days seem to have disappeared.
WILD CARD: Lance
Jeffries, of, McCluer HS. Jeffries is a feel-good story of an
inner-city youth who learned to play baseball at the local Boys/Girls
Club, and has excelled in Major League Baseball’s Urban Youth
Program. He has three potential plus tools in his speed, arm and
center-field defense. A team that thinks he can hit could take a
chance on him surprisingly early.
PROSPECT, Missouri Connection: Charlie Lowell, lhp, Wichita State
University (attended high school in Old Monroe).
TOP 2012 PROSPECT:
Pierce Johnson, rhp, Missouri State University.
TOP 2013 PROSPECT: Rob
Zastryzny, lhp, University of Missouri.
HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS
Draft History: Roy
Branch, rhp, Beaumont HS, St. Louis (1971, Royals/1st
round, 5th pick).
2006 Draft: Max
Scherzer, rhp, U. of Missouri (Diamondbacks/1st round;
2007 Draft: Ross
Detwiler, lhp, Missouri State U. (Nationals/1st round, 6th
2008 Draft: Aaron
Crow, rhp, U. of Missouri (Nationals/1st round, 9th
2009 Draft: Jacob
Turner, rhp, Westminster Christian Academy, St. Louis (Tigers/1st
round, 9th pick).
2010 Draft: Bret
Nicholas, c, U. of Missouri (Rangers/6th round).
Best Hitter: Kevin
Medrano, 2b, Missouri State University.
Best Power: Johnny
Eierman, ss, Warsaw HS.
Best Speed: Johnny
Eierman, ss, Warsaw HS.
Best Defender: Kevin
Medrano, 2b, Missouri State University.
Best Velocity: David
Schmidt, rhp, Christian Brothers HS, St. Louis.
Best Breaking Stuff:
Matt Sites, rhp, University of Missouri.
TOP PROSPECTS, GROUPS
ONE and TWO
GROUP ONE (Projected
ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)
1. JOHNNY EIERMAN,
ss/of, Warsaw HS
Intriguing tools; + raw
bat speed/power potential, 6.41 speed, 90-plus arm; scouts debate 2B
or CF in future.
TWO (Projected HIGH-Round Draft /
2. LANCE JEFFRIES, of,
McCluer HS, Ferguson
Small package (5-9/180),
but strong; 6.6 speed in 60, + arm strength/solid defender, + raw
3. DANE GRONEWALD,
lhp, Jefferson CC (Fr.)
Classic projection at
6-6/215; loose arm, sound delivery; 88-91 FB, flashes sharp CU, led
team to JC W/S.
4. MATT STITES, rhp,
University of Missouri (Jr.)
Smaller RHP, lacks
consistent stuff start to start; 92-94 FB, + SL at best; has reliever
profile, + competitor.
5. KEVIN MEDRANO, 2b,
Missouri State U. (Jr.)
Slender frame (6-0/160),
+ LH bat, + contact, lacks strength to drive balls; + savvy player,
6. BRETT GRAVES, rhp,
Francis Howell HS, St. Charles
+ athlete, dual-threat
D-I QB prospect, also plays SS; fast/loose arm, 89-91 FB/T-93, CU/CH
7. DAVID SCHMIDT, rhp,
Christian Brothers HS, St. Louis
Small statute (6-0/170),
but quick/powerful arm, FB 88-92/T-94, good CU, + pitchability,