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Draft : : State Preview
State Preview: Idaho
Allan Simpson        
Published: Saturday, May 28, 2011

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.

Idaho State-by-State List

Idaho Overview:
Even With Coaching Change, Lewis-Clark State Still Sets Tone For State

It’s been 27 years since Lewis-Clark State won its first NAIA World Series, and the team hasn’t stopped making headlines since. As L-C State goes, so go the fortunes of baseball in Idaho.

Though the Warriors haven’t won a national title in three years, they’ve captured the remarkable total of 16 over the years, possibly the greatest domination by one team in any college sport. They were thwarted a year ago, even though they entered the 10-team competition as probative favorites with a gaudy 47-3 record—not only a school record, but an NAIA record for highest winning percentage (.940).

The team still found a way to grab national headlines in 2010, however, when long-time coach Ed Cheff, the mastermind of L-C State’s dynasty, chose to step down following the season after 34 years on the job. His record of 1,704-430 left him trailing only Wichita State’s Gene Stephenson for most wins in history at one institution.

Gone though Cheff is, the Warriors continue to march on, using precisely the same formula for success that Cheff utilized throughout his lengthy coaching career.

The L-C State program has long been a bastion for assembling transfers from junior-college programs, and players that fell out of favor at other four-year programs, and the fact that the Warriors had 114 players drafted in the Cheff era, including 14 future big leaguers, speaks to their tried-and-true method for building a winner at the NAIA level, and churning out a steady procession of draftable players in remote Idaho.

Almost every player on the current L-C State roster is a transfer of some sort, and at least four of them, all pitchers, will factor somewhat prominently into this year’s draft.

Headlining the list of draftable talent is senior righthander Zach Arneson, a former Cal State Bakersfield player who was drafted in the 21st round a year ago by the San Francisco Giants. In his only season with the Warriors, Arneson (2-1, 3.12, 3 SV) found his niche in a closing role, where he was able to focus on his two primary pitches—a steady 94-96 mph fastball and 85-88 mph cutter—and abandon his changeup.

Lefthander Tyler Barrett, a transfer from the College of Southern Idaho, sat out the 2010 season at L-C-State, because it was determined he wasn’t ready to compete at the four-year level. But he proved more than able this season, going 7-2, 2.70 with 72 strikeouts in 63 innings as one of the team’s top starters. Though his command remains inconsistent, Barnett’s fastball was consistently in the 89-91 mph range, topping at 92.

Senior righthanders Cody Fassold, a former Washington junior-college player, and Casey Edelbrock, a transfer from California’s Chico State, have also flashed plus stuff, and should be two more Warriors who will be drafted.

For all its success at the NAIA level, Lewis-Clark has enjoyed a decided home-field advantage through the years by hosting the national tournament every year since 2000, and also from 1984-91. Of their 16 championships, 14 have come before partisan crowds. Moreover, as a condition of hosting the event, the Warriors are guaranteed a spot in the 10-team field.

While this year’s club entered the World Series at 37-15 and as a No. 7 seed, and wasn’t considered a vintage squad by L-C State’s lofty standards, it has obviously been a year of transition for the program with athletic director and long-time Cheff assistant Gary Picone taking the coaching reins. The program also had to overcome the loss of promising lefthander Zach Hull, the only sophomore on the roster. Hull began the 2011 season with a 3-0 record and hadn’t allowed a run in his three starts when he was killed in a traffic accident.

While Lewis-Clark State commands most of the attention in Idaho as there are no Division I baseball programs in the state, Southern Idaho has also been a steady talent-producer through the years at the junior-college level. It generally provides 2-3 draft picks a year, and among that team’s more noteworthy prospects are lefthanded-hitting catcher Parker Morin and hard-throwing righthander Travis Huber.

Morin, a sound defensive catcher, stands the better chance of the two of being drafted in the top 10 rounds because he started hitting with more power this season. Huber, a Florida Marlins draft pick in 2010, attracted his share of attention, as well, and should be selected shortly after Morin. Huber was clocked at 93 mph in relief a year ago, and settled more into the 89-91 range this season as a starter, though developed better command with his change in roles.

Idaho’s best shot at producing an elite-round pick in this year’s draft evaporated in January, when Bonneville High lefthander Porter Clayton elected to forego his senior year and enrolled at the University of Oregon. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Clayton was projected to go as early as the second or third rounds after going 10-1, 0.42 with 135 strikeouts in 68 innings as a junior, when his fastball was clocked up to 94 mph.

Clayton’s early departure leaves 6-foot-3 Twin Falls High righthander Cy Sneed as the only Idaho high-school player with a realistic shot of being drafted. Sneed recently pitched his team to the Idaho 4-A title, pitching complete games, two days apart, in both the state semi-final and final games. Sneed is a combined 31-0 in his high school and American Legion careers over the last two years, but isn’t expected to be a high enough pick to pass up an opportunity to pitch in college at Dallas Baptist.

Idaho in a Nutshell:

STRENGTH:
Lewis-Clark State talent.
WEAKNESS: High-school talent.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 3.

BEST COLLEGE TEAM:
Lewis-Clark State.
BEST JUNIOR-COLLEGE TEAM: Southern Idaho.
BEST HIGH-SCHOOL TEAM: Twin Falls HS.

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Parker Morin, c, JC of Southern Idaho.
Always regarded as a sound defender, Morin improved his draft value this spring by hitting with more power.

PROSPECT ON THE DECLINE:
No candidate.

WILD CARD:
No candidate.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Idaho Connection:
Josh Osich, lhp, Oregon State University (Attended high school in Boise).
TOP 2012 PROSPECT: Brandon Brown, lhp, Eagle HS.
TOP 2013 PROSPECT: Joey Martarano, if/rhp, Fruitland HS.

HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS
Draft History: Mike Garman, rhp, Caldwell HS (1967, Red Sox/1st round, 3rd pick).
2006 Draft: Justin Fuller, ss, Lewis-Clark State U. (Dodgers/11th round).
2007 Draft: Beau Mills, 3b, Lewis-Clark State U. (Indians/1st round, 13th pick).
2008 Draft: Kyle Greene, 3b, Lewis-Clark State U. (Diamondbacks/11th round).
2009 Draft: Tyler Curtis, rhp, JC of Southern Idaho (Marlins/13th round).
2010 Draft: Kawika Emsley-Pai, c, Lewis-Clark State U. (Diamondbacks/10th round).

TOP PROSPECTS, GROUPS ONE and TWO

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

1. ZACH ARNESON, rhp, Lewis-Clark State University (Sr.)
Sling-like arm action, 2-pitch stuff (94-96, 85-88 cutter) better suited for short role, struggles with command.
2. PARKER MORIN, c, JC of Southern Idaho (So.)
Solid catch/throw skills are his calling card; better body, signs of LH power (.372-3-41) boosted draft value.
3. TRAVIS HUBER, rhp, JC of Southern Idaho (So.)
Used as starter this spring (6-3, 3.75, 58 IP/51 SO), but profiles as reliever with power arm (90-93 FB, + SL).



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