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Draft : : State Preview
State Preview: California
Published: Monday, April 30, 2012

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 scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players as ranked in Perfect Game's state-by-state scouting lists.




Contributing: Todd Gold/David Rawnsley

California State-by-State List
2011 California Overview

California Overview:
Colleges Dominate Northern Part of State; Preps Popular in South

With the country’s largest population, along with year-round weather that is conducive to churning out a steady stream of baseball talent, California has always dominated the baseball draft. And nothing should really change this year.

With such a large pool of players to draw from, though, it’s quite remarkable how some baseball institutions in California have monopolized the elite-level talent for this year’s draft. At the college level, Stanford has easily the deepest and most-talented team in the state with the potential for three selections in the first round, and as many as five in the top 3-4 rounds. Orange Coast College, the nation’s No. 1-ranked junior-college team, is in line to produce roughly half of the 10 JC players, or so, that are projected to be drafted from the state’s junior-college ranks in the first 10 rounds. In high school, Los Angeles’ Harvard-Westlake School has an excellent shot at yielding the first two players in that demographic.

Stanford righthander Mark Appel and Harvard-Westlake righthander Lucas Giolito were regarded almost as co-favorites to be drafted with the No. 1 pick overall at the start of the 2012 season, though Giolito’s chances of becoming the first prep righty to ever be selected with the top pick lessened considerably when he went to the sidelines in early March with a strained ulnar collateral ligament. He hasn’t pitched since, and may not—at least not in a competitive environment. Appel has been Stanford’s Friday-night starter from the outset, but hasn’t been consistently dominant enough this spring to hang on to No. 1.

In fact, there is a greater chance now, according to scouts, that University of San Francisco righthander Kyle Zimmer could be drafted ahead of Appel, and that Giolito’s prep teammate, lefthander Max Fried, will be the first high-school player taken.

With Stanford located in the northern part of the state, and Orange Coast and Harvard-Westlake in suburban Los Angeles, the unusual strengths of those schools is very reflective and representative of parallel programs in their geographic region. Most of the top college talent is located at Northern-based colleges, most of the best junior-college and high-school talent in the South.

Overall, most of the top prospects in the state, including the top four and five of six projected first-rounders, are pitchers, while position players contribute more substantially to the depth in California’s draft pool, particularly at the high-school level.

California in a nutshell:

STRENGTH:
High-ceiling pitching prospects, depth of high school prospects
WEAKNESS:Catchers and middle infielders, plus runners
OVERALL RATING(1-to-5 scale): 4.

BEST COLLEGE TEAM:Stanford.
BEST JUNIOR-COLLEGE TEAM:Orange Coast.
BEST HIGH SCHOOL TEAM:Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana.

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Kyle Twomey, lhp, Eldorado HS, Placentia.For most of the spring, Harvard-Westlake’s Max Fried and Camarillo High’s Hunter Virant were the only two prep lefthanders in California who were generating attention in the top five rounds. That was before Twomey dazzled scouts in early April at the National Classic, a prominent local high-school tournament with national implications, with a 14-strikeout, no-hitter. Twomey, a Southern California recruit, was well known in the scouting community prior to that outing, but fell mostly into the broad category of projectable southpaw with below-average present raw stuff. The power in all of Twomey’s pitches has picked up noticeably as the spring has developed and his former mid- to upper-80s fastball is now topping out at 92 mph, with a hard-spinning breaking ball as a solid complementary offering. Twomey’s pitchability and changeup, his third pitch, have always graded out well and he has started pulling his whole package together.

WILD CARDS: Lucas Giolito, rhp, Harvard-Westlake HS, Santa Monica; Rio Ruiz, 3b, Bishop Amat HS, Covina. Giolito’s early-March injury, a slightly-sprained ulnar collateral ligament, has been well documented and his potential return to action in May will be under the microscope. Some scouts say that they could care less about Giolito’s injury, that it has no long-term implications and his kind of talent is so extreme that they would take him with the 1-1 pick, sight unseen. The majority, though, will be much more cautious, creating an impossible-to-predict outcome. Ruiz’ situation might be more complicated. He had moved himself into mid-first-round consideration for many teams in April, when he underwent surgery for a blood clot in his neck area that will keep him out for at least 4-5 months. The nature and uniqueness of Ruiz’ ailment makes it much harder to gauge what the reaction will be among scouts in terms of risking a high pick on a talent like Ruiz this year.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, California Connection:Corey Black, rhp, Faulkner (Ala.) University (Attended college at San Diego State and high school in San Diego).
Top 2013 Prospect:Austin Wilson, of, Stanford University.
Top2014 Prospect:Trevor Megill, rhp, Loyola Marymount University.

HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS

Draft History
(all 1st round/1st pick):Steve Chilcott, c, Antelope Valley HS, Lancaster (Mets, 1966); Tim Foli, ss, Notre Dame HS, Canoga Park (Mets, 1968); Jeff Burroughs, of, Woodrow Wilson HS, Long Beach (Senators, 1969); Darryl Strawberry, of, Crenshaw HS, Los Angeles (Mets, 1980); Phil Nevin, 3b, Cal State Fullerton (Astros, 1992); Adrian Gonzalez, 1b, Eastlake HS, Chula Vista (Marlins, 2000); Delmon Young, of, Camarillo HS (Devil Rays, 2003); Matt Bush, ss/rhp, Mission Bay HS, San Diego (Padres, 2004); Stephen Strasburg, rhp, San Diego State University (Nationals, 2009); Gerrit Cole, rhp, UCLA (Pirates, 2011).
2006 Draft:Greg Reynolds, rhp, Stanford University (Rockies/1st round, 2nd pick).
2007 Draft: Mike Moustakas, ss, Chatsworth HS (Royals/1st round, 2nd pick).
2008 Draft: Brian Matusz, lhp, University of San Diego (Orioles/1st round, 4th pick).
2009 Draft: Stephen Strasburg, rhp, San Diego State University (Nationals/1st round, 1st pick).
2010 Draft: Christian Colon, ss, Cal State Fullerton (Royals/1st round, 4th pick).
2011 Draft: Gerrit Cole, rhp, UCLA (Pirates/1st round, 1st pick).

2011 DRAFT OVERVIEW

College Players Drafted/Signed:
128/107.
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed:41/20.
High School Players Drafted/Signed:85/37.

BEST TOOLS

Best Athlete:
Jacob Stewart, of, Stanford University.
Best Hitter:Stephen Piscotty, 3b, Stanford University.
Best Power:Trey Williams, 3b, Valencia HS, Santa Clarita.
Best Speed:B.J. Boyd, of, Palo Alto HS.
Best Defender: Jacob Stewart, of, Stanford University.
Best Velocity:Lucas Giolito, rhp, Harvard-Westlake HS, Santa Monica.
Best Breaking Stuff:Kyle Zimmer, rhp, University of San Francisco.
Best Pitchability:Martin Agosto, rhp, St. Mary’s College.

TOP PROSPECTS, GROUPS ONE and TWO

GROUP ONE
(Projected ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)

1. KYLE ZIMMER, rhp, University of San Francisco (Jr.)
Zimmer was a virtual unknown in the scouting community late last spring when he hooked up with UCLA righthander Gerrit Cole in an opening-round game of the NCAA tournament. With a large mass of scouts on hand to take in what turned out to be Cole’s last opportunity to pitch before he was ultimately taken with the No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 draft, it was Zimmer who ended up taking center stage. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound righthander was dazzling in retiring 26 of the first 28 UCLA hitters he faced before settling on a 3-0, four-hit shutout with no walks and 11 strikeouts. That signature outing instantly catapulted Zimmer up 2012 draft boards, and he has done nothing this spring but enhance his status to a point where he is a consideration for the No. 1 pick overall, just like Cole a year ago. Zimmer has a strong, athletic frame with an extremely loose arm and comes from a three-quarters angle. His delivery is easy and controlled, and he has outstanding balance. He showcases an explosive fastball that is a steady 92-94 mph, and has topped at 99; he commands it extremely well to both sides of the plate. He also flashes a power slider and curve, and an improving changeup, and has continued to improve the command of his secondary pitches. In 10 starts this season, he is 4-3, 2.86 with 11 walks and 75 strikeouts in 69 innings. With his relatively new-found status, Zimmer still lacks polish in his delivery and approach, but he is seen by scouts as much more athletic than Mark Appel (No. 2), with more upside possibly than any college pitcher in this year’s draft.


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