Draft | Follow List | 6/1/2010


Lewis-Clark State has set the bar so high in capturing 16 NAIA World Series championships since 1984 that it’s difficult for the Warriors to top any of their previous accomplishments.
But they did just that this season, when they entered the 2010 NAIA series with a gaudy 47-3 record—not only a school record, but an NAIA record for highest winning percentage (.940). Not surprisingly, the Warriors went wire-to-wire this spring as the NAIA’s No. 1-ranked team and were prohibitive favorites to capture yet another national title after falling just short in 2009.
L-C State’s formula for success hasn’t changed much in Ed Cheff’s 34 seasons as coach. He is one of only four college coaches with more than 1,700 career wins, and Cheff has made it standard practice through the years to mould his teams with junior-college recruits or players who fell out of favor with other four-year college programs.
Of 15 Warriors players who warranted at least some degree of draft consideration this year, 14 were transfers from other programs, including Texas, Washington State and Oral Roberts at the NCAA Division I level.
The lone exception is righthander Tyler Knigge, who might be L-C State’s best prospect for this year’s draft. He’s a product of local Lewiston High, and was steered naturally to play baseball at his hometown college because his father played baseball for Cheff back in the 1980s and was a part of the program’s early experience at success.
Knigge flashed his raw stuff, which includes a fastball up to 94 and an 85-mph slider, in his first two years with the Warriors, but finally put it altogether as a junior. His improvement from a 3-4, 6.59 record in 2009 to a 9-0, 2.59 mark this spring (more losses himself in 2009 than L-C State had as a team this year) underscores a significant jump in his prospect value.
Junior Kawika Emsley-Pai and senior Brian Burke have shared the Warriors’ catching duties this spring and been pursued by scouts, though are less likely than Knigge to go as high as the first 10 rounds.
The switch-hitting Emsley-Pai, a transfer from Texas, is a solid defender and has the ability to drive balls to all fields, though he lacks raw power. Unfortunately, Emsley-Pai’s game appears to still be impacted by the lingering aftereffects of major back surgery that caused him to miss his senior year at a Washington high school in 2007 and short-circuited a promising career at the time.
Burke (.378-16-64) has been the Warriors’ top hitter after transferring for his senior year from Kansas Wesleyan. His power potential is a significant tool, but some scouts believe he has only slider bat speed. They are also at a loss to identify an optimum position for him at the pro level. Burke showed promise early in the season behind the plate, but spent more of the 2010 season at third base, and struggled there.
As L-C State goes, so go the draft fortunes of Idaho for the most part. There was little else for scouts to get excited about in the state this spring. There are no Division I baseball colleges in Idaho, and it’s very possible the state won’t produce a single high-school draft pick.
The College of Southern Idaho has been a steady talent-producer through the years at the junior-college level, generally providing 2-3 draft picks a year. That should be the case again, especially since CSI has tapped liberally into some of the best young talent from Canada. But one such player, outfielder Lionel Morrill, has done little or nothing to improve his stock in two years at CSI, after showing all the raw tools coming out of an Alberta high school to emerge as a top talent.

STRENGTH: Lewis-Clark State talent.
WEAKNESS: High-school talent.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 2.

BEST COLLEGE TEAM: Lewis-Clark State.
BEST HIGH-SCHOOL TEAM: Timberline HS, Boise.

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Tyler Knigge, rhp, Lewis-Clark State. Team’s worst starter in 2009 became ace this season on 47-3 team, with better command/consistency of two solid pitches.
PROSPECT ON THE DECLINE: Lionel Morrill, of, JC of Southern Idaho. Significant speed/power potential in a 6-5, 215 frame, but he just hasn’t translated it into baseball skills.
WILD CARD: Kawika Emsley-Pai, c, Lewis-Clark State. If scouts can be convinced that his back problems are a thing of the past, he could emerge as state’s best draft.
BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Idaho Connection: Josh Osich, lhp, Oregon State U, (Attended high school in Boise).
TOP 2011 PROSPECT: Ryan Wood, rhp-3b, Rocky Mountain HS, Meridian.
TOP 2012 PROSPECT: Brandon Brown, lhp, Eagle HS.
Highest Pick, Draft History: Mike Garman, rhp, Caldwell HS (1967, Red Sox/1st round, 3rd pick).
Highest Pick, 2006 Draft: Justin Fuller, ss, Lewis-Clark State U. (Dodgers/11th round).
Highest Pick, 2007 Draft: Beau Mills, 3b, Lewis-Clark State U. (Indians/1st round, 13th pick).
Highest Pick, 2008 Draft: Kyle Greene, 3b, Lewis-Clark State U. (Diamondbacks/11th round).
Highest Pick, 2009 Draft: Tyler Curtis, rhp, JC of Southern Idaho (Marlins/13th round).

Best Hitter: Kawika Emsley-Pai, c, Lewis-Clark State.
Best Power: Brian Bauke, c-3b, Lewis-Clark State.
Best Speed: Lionel Morrill, of, JC of Southern Idaho.
Best Defender: Kawika Emsley-Pai, c, Lewis-Clark State.
Best Velocity: Tyler Knigge, rhp, Lewis-Clark State.
Best Breaking Stuff: Tyler Knigge, rhp, Lewis-Clark State.

Full scouting reports available on players ranked on national Top 250 list (click on National Top 300)
GROUP TWO (Projected HIGH-Round Draft / Rounds 4-10)
1. TYLER KNIGGE, rhp, Lewis-Clark State (Jr.)
Big improvement in command/consistency of 92-94 mph FB, mid-80s SL; 9-0, 2.59 as L-C State ace

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