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.
Montana State-by-State List
Once-in-a-Generation Talent, Inspires Montana Draft Hopes
As the only two states in
the country that don’t have formal high-school baseball programs,
remote Montana and Wyoming have to resort to different means for
high-school-aged players in those states to get both experience and
They must be doing
Both of the neighboring
states have a prospect of note this year that be will
historically-relevant in the context of the modest baseball draft
exposure that Montana and Wyoming have received through the years, if
the players are drafted where they are projected to be taken.
to the draft is outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who could be drafted as
high as the sandwich round. That would represent a record for that
state as no Wyoming player has ever been drafted before the fourth
round. For more on Nimmo, please refer to the state preview on
The Montana player that
has generated a buzz this spring is Missoula outfielder Ben Roberts,
possibly the most-talented athlete ever developed in that state. He
is a record-setting wide receiver in football (108 catches last fall,
235 in his career) and excels at basketball, but the 6-foot-4,
205-pound Roberts has made it abundantly clear that baseball is his
He is being projected as
a third-round pick in this year’s draft, which wouldn’t be a
record for Montana, but Roberts would become the highest draft pick
in the state since 1966, when Billings High lefthander Leo Pinnick
was selected in the second round by the Minnesota Twins. Roberts
could conceivably close in on that mark, but has no chance of
eclipsing the state record set in 1965 by Les Rohr, also a lefthander
from Billings High, who was taken with the second overall pick in the
very first draft in 1965.
Regardless of where he is
picked, Roberts’ prospect status is significant for a state that is
far off the beaten track for most scouts. Only four Montana
high-school players, including Rohr and Pinnick, have ever been
drafted in the top 10 rounds. The last such occurrence was in 1984.
No Montana player has been drafted since 2007, and none earlier than
the 41st round since 1998.
Roberts has committed to
play baseball at Washington State, and that obligation appears to be
the only obstacle that might prevent him from being drafted anywhere
but where his talent warrants.
For a non-traditional
baseball state like Montana, Roberts is a rare breed. He is a
superior all-around athlete with all the tools to excel on a baseball
field. He has excellent bat speed from the left side, and can pull
balls with authority. He has 6.65-second speed in the 60 and
excellent first-step quickness, and uses those assets proficiently on
the bases and to track balls in center field. He has plenty of arm
strength to play anywhere in the outfield.
The one area of Roberts’
game that appears to be furthest behind in his development is his
bat. Though he has a fluid stroke and will show occasional loft
power, mainly in BP, he may need some minor tinkering with his
With no high-school team
to play on, Roberts has received most of his exposure playing
American Legion ball for the Missoula Mavericks, the 2010 state
Legion champs. Roberts played a key role on that team, hitting
.415-16-76 with 19 triples and 27 stolen bases in 30 attempts.
Obviously, the competition in Montana is not as advanced as it is in
other states, but scouts who have seen Roberts play this spring have
indicated that all his tools are legit, and that he may have even
more upside than the more-publicized Nimmo.
Some scouts have even
gone so far as to compare Roberts to a young Josh Hamilton—both in
terms of physical appearance and raw tools. The comparison to
Hamilton is apt as Roberts’ mother has been quick to show visiting
scouts a picture she took last summer of a home-run ball her son
caught at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium—hit by none other than
Roberts is not the only
talent of some significance who may come from Montana this year.
Kalispell lefthander Joe Pistorese has a loose, live arm with a
fastball in the high-80s, and a documented history of dominating his
competition in American Legion ball. Over his last two full seasons,
Pistorese won 18 games, posted a 1.44 ERA and fanned 306 in 187
innings. He also threw the only perfect game in state Legion
tournament competition, and achieved a personal-best in May of this
year by striking out 19, while walking none, in a seven-inning game.
Montana in a Nutshell:
WEAKNESS: Depth of
(1-to-5 scale): 5.
PROSPECT, Montana Connection: Gabe Weidenaar, of, Oklahoma State
University (attended high school in Bozeman).
TOP 2012 PROSPECT:
Jamin Weidenaar, ss, Bozeman HS.
TOP 2013 PROSPECT:
HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS
Draft History: Les
Rohr, lhp, West HS, Billings (1965, Mets/1st round, 2nd pick).
2006 Draft: None
2007 Draft: Tyler
Gilder, rhp, Butte HS (Phillies/41st round).
2008 Draft: None
2009 Draft: None
2010 Draft: None
TOP PROSPECTS, GROUPS
ONE and TWO
GROUP ONE (Projected
ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)
BEN ROBERTS, of, Sentinel HS, Bozeman
athlete ever from Montana; has all the tools (speed/arm/defense/bat),
but need to project on the power.