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.
Ohio State-by-State List
State Dominates On the Field, Will also Play Prominent Role in Draft
The Ohio State
University may have self-proclaimed itself as the university
in Ohio, but when it comes to college baseball, no one takes a back
seat to Kent State.
The Golden Flashes have
become the pre-eminent baseball program in the state in head coach
Scott Stricklin’s seven-year tenure, posting a 266-143 record
overall and earning four NCAA tournament bids. They earned their
third straight regional appearance this season by breezing to the
Mid-American Conference regular-season and post-season tournament
titles. With a 44-15 record entering regional play, the Golden
Flashes needed to win just one more game to tie the school record for
wins in a season, set in 1992.
Not only has Kent State
been winning at a steady clip, but it has been producing more than
its share of talent. The school’s impact on the draft could be
greater than ever this year with a potential first-rounder in
sophomore lefthander Andrew Chafin, and the possibility of up to 10
selections overall in this year’s draft. It’s even possible that
the Golden Flashes could have six or seven players in the bag before
mighty Ohio State has its first player taken.
emergence as a top starting candidate for the 2011 draft has been
somewhat slow to evolve as he spent his freshman year at Kent State
as a dominant closer and sophomore year on the shelf, rehabbing from
Tommy John surgery. He hurt his elbow late in his freshman season
after going 4-1, 1.26 with eight saves, striking out 55 in 36
with no prior experience as a starter in college, Chafin was dominant
in that role early this spring as Kent State’s Friday starter, with
his signature outing being a 1-0, complete-game win over Toledo on
the opening weekend of the Mid-American Conference schedule. He
allowed four hits and no walks, struck out 15 and threw 88 strikes in
his 113-pitch masterpiece. Soon, though, Chafin’s heavy workload
caught up with him and he was forced to miss a weekend start with
what Kent State coaches called a fatigued arm, though a minor back
issue may have been at the root of the problem.
regional play began, Chafin was 7-1, 1.90 with 55 hits, 21 walks and
97 strikeouts in 80 innings. The tall, athletic southpaw has always
flashed starter stuff, with a fastball in the 92-95 mph range. But
the development of his secondary pitches into legitimate offerings
has enabled him to settle in seamlessly this spring as a starter. His
power slider has become a dominant second pitch, and his changeup is
now a viable third offering.
unflappable mound presence has also served him well as a starter. He
was the Friday starter in Kent State’s rare all-lefthanded
rotation, and the trio was instrumental in the team winning its
fourth straight MAC title (regular season or tournament). As a staff,
the Golden Flashes boast a 2.54 ERA and have struck out 487 in 525
all three southpaws can throw strikes routinely and specialize at
getting ahead early in the count, they are very different in their
approaches to pitching. Senior lefthander Kyle Hallock (10-4, 1.91,
99 IP/83 SO) and sophomore lefty David Starn (9-2, 1.95, 101 IP/114
SO) have outpitched Chafin from time to time, but neither comes close
to possessing Chafin’s professional upside.
Chafin’s fastball is in the mid-90s, Hallock is typically 87-89
mph, topping at 91-92, but can throw four pitches for strikes. Starn
is even more of a soft tosser, with a fastball at 83-85, and succeeds
mostly working with his dominant changeup. If anything, he will be a
late-round pick in this year’s draft.
Chafin can overcome his mid-season speed bump and pitch effectively
in his final start or two this season, he could slip into the back
end of the first round. Otherwise, he should fit safely in the
No Ohio college
pitchers, Chafin included, may have made more strides this spring
than Hallock and Kent State closer Kyle McMillen. Hallock was just a
49th-rounder a year ago after a modestly-successful 8-5,
5.64 junior season, but he ratcheted up his game considerably this
spring by throwing 2-3 mph harder than a year ago. He had only one
subpar start all year, and his season-long dominance led to his
selection as the conference pitcher of the year. Hallock’s command
has also been much sharper, and he can now throw four pitches for
strikes. He should be one of the top senior signs in the entire
McMillen was equal
parts pitching prospect and position prospect a year ago, and finally
established a true role for himself this spring by settling in as a
closer. He saved 17 games for the Golden Flashes. McMillen’s
fastball has ranged from 91-94 mph, peaking at 95 and he could throw
even harder in the future. His slider, which has reached 87, has also
been a plus pitch, on occasion, but he has had trouble commanding it.
McMillen also has significant power at the plate from the left side.
He hit .354-6-46 as the team’s starting first baseman in 2010,
while going an unimpressive 1-2, 4.44 with four saves. But he
essentially abandoned his two-way duties, and that enabled him to
blossom on the mound.
Kent State’s impact
on the draft may seem top heavy in pitching prospects with Chafin,
McMillen, and Hallock all expected to be drafted in the first 10
rounds, but its impact won’t end there. Junior third baseman Travis
Shaw (.316-14-51), who leads the team in home runs, and senior
outfielder Ben Klafczynski (.368-10-54), the team leader in batting
and RBIs, should factor in quickly thereafter.
Shaw, son of ex-major
leaguer Jeff Shaw, has one of the top lefthanded power bats in the
Upper Midwest, but is not overly athletic, and the remainder of his
tools are a little short. A third baseman most of his college career,
Shaw will likely face a move across the diamond at the pro level.
.362-10-62 as an undrafted junior, very comparable to his 2011 season
totals, but scouts say he is a different player this season because
he finally learned to apply his vast assortment of tools in a
positive way. Klafczynski has a big right-field arm, and impressive
speed and power.
Bowling Green State
appears to be the only other Ohio college team that has a chance to
prevent a near clean sweep in the drafty by Kent State. It has two
players who could be early-round factors, junior shortstop Jon Berti
and junior righthander Ross Gerdeman.
Berti is a scrappy,
hard-nosed little shortstop with speed and arm strength, though there
is concern whether he can remain at shortstop over the long haul.
Gerdeman was a relative unknown entering the MAC tournament, but
impressed scouts with a consistent 90-93 fastball and above-average
slider—superior stuff than what he showed earlier in the season.
The Ohio high-school
ranks, meanwhile, will be hard-pressed to have more than one player
crack the top 10 rounds.
Bryan High’s 6-foot-3
175-pound righthander Matt Wisler is acknowledged as the state’s
best prep prospect, and is a probably an 8th-10 rounder on
talent. He has solid pitchability with four pitches he can throw for
strikes, including an 88-92 mph fastball. But Wisler also lacks
strength in his lean 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame and reportedly has a
steep price tag, and those factors may see him slide out of the early
All of the state’s
other top high-school players appear earmarked for college, including
Kentucky-bound outfielder Austin Cousino, regarded as the state’s
best position prospect. Cousino has advanced bat skills, but needs to
get stronger to be able to utilize them more efficiently.
A year from now, Ohio
will have a pair of high-end young arms and scouts have already taken
note. Six-foot-9, 255-pound righthander Taylore Cherry is expected to
be one of the top high-school arms, while Solon High lefthander Mark
Smoral will also be a first-round consideration.
For this year, though,
most of Ohio’s talent is concentrated at Kent State.
Ohio in a Nutshell:
(1-to-5 scale): 3.
BEST COLLEGE TEAM:
BEST HIGH SCHOOL
TEAM: Walsh Jesuit HS, Cuyahoga Falls.
PROSPECT ON THE
RISE: Ross Gerdeman, rhp, Bowling Green State University. Gerdeman
hardly raised an eyebrow with most scouts early in the 2011 season
with his generic stuff, but he moved them to the edge of their seats,
straining to get a better look in the Mid-American Conference
tournament, when he suddenly pushed his fastball velocity to 93 mph,
and complemented that pitch with a second plus offering, a
PROSPECT ON THE
DECLINE: No candidate.
WILD CARD: Matt
Wisler, rhp, Bryan HS. Ohio’s chances of landing a high-school
player in the first 10 rounds pretty much rest with Wisler. But a lot
of that depends on whether Wisler, an Ohio State signee, prices
himself out of a signable round.
PROSPECT, Ohio Connection: Steven Gruver, lhp, University of
Tennessee (attended high school in Canfield).
TOP 2012 PROSPECT:
Taylore Cherry, rhp, Vandalia Butler HS, Dayton.
TOP 2013 PROSPECT:
Josh Desze, rhp/1b, Ohio State University.
HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS
Tim Belcher, rhp, Mount Vernon Nazarene College (1983, Twins/1st round, 1st pick); Ken Griffey Jr., of, Moeller HS,
Cincinnati (1987, Mariners/1st round, 1st pick).
2006 Draft: Emmanuel
Burris, ss, Kent State U. (Giants/1st round; 33rd pick).
2007 Draft: Cory
Luebke, lhp, Ohio State U. (Padres/1st round, 63rd pick).
2008 Draft: Chris
Carpenter, rhp, Kent State U. (Cubs/3rd round).
2009 Draft: Marc
Krauss, of, Ohio U. (Diamondbacks/2nd round).
2010 Draft: Alex
Wimmers, lhp, Ohio State U. (Twins/1st round/21st pick).
Best Hitter: Jon
Berti, ss, Bowling Green State University.
Travis Shaw, 3b, Kent State University.
Best Speed: Jon
Berti, ss, Bowling Green State University.
Jon Berti, ss, Bowling Green State University.
Andrew Chafin, lhp, Kent State University.
Best Breaking Stuff:
Andrew Chafin, lhp, Kent State University.
GROUPS ONE and TWO
ONE (Projected ELITE-Round Draft /
ANDREW CHAFIN, lhp, Kent State University (So.)
surgery victim in 2010; ++ stuff, FB sits 93-95, + break; starter
this year, effort in delivery, profiles relief.
KYLE McMILLEN, rhp, Kent State University (Jr.)
2-way talent in past settled into closer role (17 SV); FB up to 94, +
SL, still needs to refine command.
TWO (Projected HIGH-Round Draft /
JON BERTI, ss, Bowling Green State University (Jr.)
plays ++ hard; + bat/strength in swing (.356-2-26), 6.6 speed; + arm,
makes all routine plays at SS.
MATT WISLER, rhp, Bryan HS
projectable at 6-3/180; FB 88-91/T-92, more velo there, power CU/nice
CH, 7-2, 0.34/117 K’s, OSU sign.
ROSS GERDEMAN, rhp, Bowling Green State University (Jr.)
bloomer; came on strong at end with 90-93 FB, + SL; big frame
(6-3/215), 2-1, 3.57, 1 SV, 58 IP/42 SO.
KYLE HALLOCK, lhp, Kent State (Sr.)
huge strides as SR (8-5, 5.64 in 2010; 10-4, 1.91 in 2011); commands
4 pitches, FB now 88-90/T-92.