Draft : : State Preview
Sunday, May 29, 2011

State Preview: Oregon

Allan Simpson        
Photo: Oregon

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.

Oregon State-by-State List

Oregon Overview:
Oregon, Oregon State Civil War Spills Over to Baseball Field, Draft

Oregon State and Oregon were at opposite ends of the baseball spectrum in 2006 and 2007, when OSU was in the process of winning improbable back-to-back College World Series titles while the Ducks didn’t even have so much as an intercollegiate baseball program.

Just three years later, the shoe was largely on the other foot. Oregon, in just its second year back after reinstating its baseball program in the wake of Oregon State’s stunning national success, was the program on the upswing in 2010, posting a 40-24 record overall and breezing into NCAA tournament play. Oregon State was struggling just to hang on, and it barely qualified for post-season play. Clearly, it was being upstaged by the new kid on the block.

As the 2011 college season unfolded, Oregon seemed to have a clear-cut advantage on its more-established rival, with a roster teeming with potential early-round draft picks in each of the next three draft classes. The Beavers roster was filled with uncertainty.

But when the two arch-rivals prepared to meet each other on the final weekend of the 2011 regular season, in what was billed as baseball’s equivalent of the traditional Civil War between the football teams at both schools, it was Oregon State, and not Oregon, that had gained a clear upper hand in the rivalry. The Beavers (38-14) held down first place in the Pacific-10 Conference at 17-7, while the Ducks were just 30-26 overall, and a hugely-disappointing 8-16 in conference play.

Even as Oregon, in one last gasp, turned the tables on the Beavers and won the first two games of their highly-charged series, both by 4-1 scores, the Ducks had long been resigned that they would be sitting on the sidelines when at-large bids were extended to this year’s NCAA tournament.

In many ways, the two Oregon teams have been the biggest surprises in all of college baseball this season—Oregon State for what it did do, Oregon for what it didn’t do.

Scouts have weighed in closely this spring on all the draftable talent at both schools, and the Beavers and Ducks are expected to make a profound combined impact on this year’s draft—in different ways, in many cases, than what was anticipated when the 2011 college season began.

Oregon State’s somewhat unexpected rise to the top of the Pac-10 standings has been accomplished, in large measure, by the return to full health of high-profile lefthander Josh Osich (6-3, 3.44), who missed most of the last two seasons with injuries, and catcher Andrew Susac, who had a shaky college debut in 2010 for the Beavers (.260-2-13), but blossomed this spring (.348-5-31) into the nation’s foremost college catcher. Both players are in the first-round mix as the draft nears, though somewhat tentatively.

There’s little question that the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Osich, a red-shirt junior, has always had a first-round quality arm, especially with a fastball that has been clocked in the past at 97-98 mph. Under normal circumstances, he would rank as one of the elite power arms in this draft, but there were lingering questions when the 2011 season began about how he might respond after missing most of the last two years. He underwent Tommy John surgery in June of 2009 and had the procedure repeated seven months later.

Osich, who was drafted in the seventh round last June despite never having won a game in three years at Oregon State and also not throwing a single pitch for the Beavers in 2010, was initially brought along slowly this spring, employing only his fastball and a changeup. His fastball was mostly in the 92-96 mph range, and he made steady strides using just those two pitches. He also had surprisingly good command for someone in his first year back from major elbow surgery.

Osich’s signature game of the 2011 season, a no-hitter against UCLA, came about, coincidentally, when he was finally given the green light to cut loose with his breaking stuff. He dominated the Bruins with all three pitches, and that single performance may have pushed Osich over the top and into first-round consideration, though teams will remain leery of his long medical file and checkered record of success in four years at Oregon State.

Susac also seemed like a lock to be drafted in the first round midway through the 2011 season, when he led the Beavers in every major offensive category. With his combination of raw power and arm strength, he quickly asserted himself as the premier catcher in this year’s college class. But Susac then broke the hamate bone in his catching hand, forcing him to the sidelines for 20 games, and scouts say he hasn’t been quite the same player since he returned, either at the plate or in the field.

He still led the Beavers in batting (.348) and was in the top two on the team in homers (5) and RBIs (31) entering the final weekend of the regular season, but has struggled with timing issues since his return, especially against the superior pitching he has faced in the Pac-10. He also appeared to be babying his hand behind the plate.

Susac is far from a polished defensive catcher anyway as he has always had issues blocking balls in the dirt, with his tendency to box them instead. With concerns about his health and the deficiencies in his game, not to mention his highly-leveraged sophomore class standing and obvious huge price tag, teams were beginning to have second thoughts on the eve of the draft about even drafting Susac in the first round, and wondered if another year in college might not be in his best interests. His situation will bear watching closely.

Junior righthander Sam Gaviglio, meanwhile, has also had a breakout season for the Beavers that was critical to the team’s unexpected surge to the top of the standings. He is 11-2, 1.95 this spring after going just 3-4, 5.60 as a sophomore.

Gaviglio’s upside, though, is much lower than that of either Osich or Susac as he won’t blow anyone away with a fastball in the 89-91 mph range. But the 6-foot-2, 180-pound righthander has thrived this season because of his excellent pitchability. He can carve up hitters with his ability to throw four pitches for strikes, and though his fastball has just average velocity, it has excellent sinking and diving action.

Of all the quality college arms that abound in Oregon this spring, Oregon lefthander Tyler Anderson ranks at the top of the list. He is the surest bet to succeed at the next level, and there is little doubt that he will roll off the draft board first, probably somewhere in the middle of the first round.

Anderson has been everything he was supposed to be for the Ducks, going 8-3, 2.17 with a school-record 114 strikeouts. He systematically dismantled the Beavers in the opening set of their three-game showdown series in pretty much the same way he has overmatched other teams he has faced this spring.

Anderson is not overpowering, even in his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame. His success stems more from excellent command of four pitches, including a four-seam fastball that normally sits at 90-92 mph, but tops at 95. He is so advanced in his approach to pitching that he is on the short list of pitching prospects in this draft who could reach the big leagues the quickest.

Two other prominent members of Oregon’s deep, talented pitching staff, righthanders Madison Boer and Scott McGough, on the other hand, each went just 3-6 on the season. Additionally, McGough blew several critical save situations early in the season, costing the Ducks several victories, and ultimately lost his job as the team’s closer. Boer was one of many arms the Ducks used to try and fill that void.

For all his 2011 failings, McGough should still be a prominent draft as he is capable of reaching 97 mph, though his fastball is more often in the 92-94 range. An inconsistent breaking ball and undeveloped changeup were at the root of McGough’s early-season problems.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Boer was Oregon’s primary closer in 2010, and while he briefly returned to that role this spring, he has the stuff, including a 92-96 mph fastball, and physical, athletic frame to be a starter in pro ball.

With the abundance of pitching talent across the country in this year’s draft, the disappointing seasons by McGough, and to a less degree by Boer could push them down slightly in the draft. However, both are seen as solid second- to third-round talents.

Beyond the inconsistent seasons turned in by Boer and McGough, another critical factor in Oregon’s demise this season was the inability of several key players to swing the bat. As a team, the Ducks hit just .256.

Shortstop KC Serna led the team in hitting a year ago at .349-5-37, but was plugging along at a .224-2-21 clip in the final weekend. His struggles at the plate, along with two team-imposed suspensions during the year, have significantly cut into draft value, though he remains one of the best pure shortstops in the Pac-10.

Sophomore-eligible catcher Jack Marder enrolled at Oregon two years ago with a reputation as a top hitting prospect and a player without a position. But as he has surprisingly become a stalwart defensively behind the plate in his two seasons with the Ducks, he became a liability at the plate this season, hitting just .209-2-19. There is little chance now that he will factor prominently in this year’s draft, and it’s almost a given he will return to school for his junior year. Still, a team that values defense in a catcher, may take a run at him.

Numerous other prospects of note on both the Oregon and Oregon State rosters have seen their draft stock fluctuate during the course of the 2011 season—some up, some down.

Among those who have significantly enhanced their value are two senior righthanders, Oregon’s Kellen Moen and Oregon State’s James Nygren. Both pitchers came to Oregon with big reputations from junior college, but struggled in 2010 and weren’t even drafted. They’ve been completely different pitchers this season.

Moen, an Alaska native, pitched sparingly a year ago for the Ducks because the team was so backed in quality arms. But Moen’s fastball velocity has been 5-6 mph better this spring, his curve is tighter, and he ended up saving eight games for the Ducks as a valuable arm at the back of the bullpen.

Nygren, an Oregon prep product who wasn’t even recruited out of high school by the Beavers, initially attended the College of Western Nevada. When his fastball peaked at 95 mph in the fall of his freshman year, Nygren quickly did a reverse take and enrolled at Oregon State in time for his freshman year.

But he never pitched up to expectations in his first three years with the Beavers, and never materialized into the kind of prospect scouts thought he would become. Suddenly this year, though, Nygren’s delivery has been a lot cleaner and his fastball has returned to the low-90s, and he responded with a solid senior season, going 8-2, 3.15 with 15 walks and 49 strikeouts in 66 innings. He and Moen could squeeze their way into the top 10 rounds as two of the better senior signs in the draft.

From a state-wide perspective, players from Oregon and Oregon State will almost completely dominate the early rounds of this year’s draft. The possibility exists that they will produce three first-rounders between them, along with three picks each in the top three rounds.

The state’s all-consuming Oregon/Oregon State rivalry has also played itself out in a fascinating dynamic at the high-school level this spring, principally involving Westview High righthander Sam Johnson, an Oregon recruit, and Southridge High lefthander Jace Fry, and Oregon State signee.

Johnson and Fry have been acknowledged all along as the two best pitching prospects in the 2011 prep class, while also playing on the state’s two best high-school teams. Johnson was a clear No. 1 at the outset of the 2011 season, in large part because of the mid-90s velocity he showcased at various national events last summer. Fry was close on his tail.

But Johnson has unexpectedly struggled to throw as hard this spring as he has in the past, working more in the high-80s. His breaking ball has also been flatter, and not surprisingly he hasn’t posted the dominant results expected. He has easily been upstaged by Fry, who now is the state’s No. 1-ranked prep talent.

Everything came to a head between the top two teams and top two pitchers in a May 10 showdown, with Fry outdueling Johnson, enabling Southridge to edge Westview 3-2. Fry was the difference maker on the mound and at the plate, allowing three hits and striking out 11, while drilling a critical three-run homer off Johnson in the fifth inning. Johnson was tagged for eight hits and struck out seven.

If there was doubt before that game which team and which arm was No. 1, that showdown pretty much swung the balance of power in favor of Southridge and Fry. In fact, a third member of a clearly-defined Oregon prep pitching trio, West Linn righthander Riley Wilkerson, may have surpassed the sliding Johnson, as well.

At any rate, Fry is a clear No. 1. With a 10-0, 1.42 record, along with 92 strikeouts in 59 innings, Fry has performed much better overall than Johnson, who is 6-3, 2.65 with 75 strikeouts in 58 innings. Wilkerson is a commendable 11-1, 1.37, but with only 52 strikeouts in 71 innings, he has not dominated like Fry has.

For added measure, Fry has spanked the ball at a resounding .488-4-38 clip. And if signability stands for anything, Fry is considered the most signable of the three Oregon prep arms. He has indicated a preference for signing right out of high school, while Johnson and Wilkerson are more inclined to attend college.

While only Frye is pretty much a lock to be the only Oregon high-school player drafted in the top 10 rounds, the exceptional talent in the state’s college crop will more than make up the shortfall and lead to this draft becoming the greatest in Oregon’s history.

Oregon in a Nutshell:

High-end college pitching.
WEAKNESS: High-school position players.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 5.

Oregon State.
BEST HIGH-SCHOOL TEAM: Southridge HS, Beaverton.

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Josh Osich, lhp, Oregon State University.
Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery twice and producing no wins in his first three seasons with the Beavers, Osich has unmistakable first-round stuff with a high-90s fastball. He finally got to showcase it this spring.

PROSPECT ON THE DECLINE: Sam Johnson, rhp, Westview HS, Portland.
Oregon’s top prep arm entering the 2011 draft and a possible 4th-6th-round draft, Johnson has not shown close to the same stuff this spring that he did last summer, when his fastball reached the mid-90s.

WILD CARD: Andrew Susac, c, Oregon State University.
Susac seemed like a lock to go in the first round earlier this year, but doubts have crept in since he broke a hamate bone at mid-season, missed 20 games, and has been slow to return to his pre-injury form. His sophomore standing only muddles the picture.

Kylin Turnbull, lhp, Santa Barbara CC (attended high school in Hillsboro).
TOP 2012 PROSPECT: Christian Jones, lhp, University of Oregon.
TOP 2013 PROSPECT: Ryon Healy, 3b/rhp, University of Oregon.

Draft History: Dave Roberts, 3b, U. of Oregon (1972, Padres/1st round, 1st pick).
2006 Draft: Dallas Buck, rhp, Oregon State U. (Diamondbacks/3rd round).
2007 Draft: Eddie Kunz, rhp, Oregon State U. (Mets/1st round, 42nd pick).
2008 Draft: Ty Morrison, of, Tigard HS (Rays/4th round).
2009 Draft: Erik Stavert, rhp, U. of Oregon (Rockies/7th round).
2010 Draft: Tyler Waldron, rhp, Oregon State U. (Pirates/5th round).

Best Hitter: Andrew Susac, c, Oregon State University.
Best Power: Andrew Susac, c, Oregon State University.
Best Speed: No candidate.
Best Defender: Jack Marder, c, University of Oregon.
Best Velocity: Josh Osich, lhp, Oregon State University.
Best Breaking Stuff: Tyler Anderson, lhp, University of Oregon.


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

1. TYLER ANDERSON, lhp, University of Oregon (Jr.)
6-4/215 LHP with ++ pitchability/poise/polish; commands 4 pitches, FB 90-92/T-95, has all UO SO records.
2. ANDREW SUSAC, c, Oregon State University (So.)
Best combination of power/arm strength of any college C in draft; broke hamate bone, defense needs work.
3. JOSH OSICH, lhp, Oregon State University (Jr.)
Classic hi-risk/hi-reward; power LHP with 96-98 FB, but long medical record, limited history of success.
4. MADISON BOER, rhp, University of Oregon (Jr.)
Tall/projectable arm with superior stuff (92-94 FB/T-96, + SL/CH); used in variety of roles (3-6, 2.27, 3 SV).
5. SAM GAVIGLIO, rhp, Oregon State University (Jr.)
OSU’s most consistent arm (11-2, 1.95, 106 IP/25 BB/102 SO); FB only 89-91, but 4 pitches, ++ pitchability.
6. SCOTT McGOUGH, rhp, University of Oregon (Jr.)
Struggled as UO closer early (3-6, 3.83, 4 SV), but FB ranges 92-97, flashes + SL, plagued by inconsistency.

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

7. JACE FRY, lhp, Southridge HS, Beaverton
Surged to top of state HS list (10-0, 1.42, 59 IP/92 SO); quick/deceptive arm, FB 88-91/+ movement; + CU.
8. KELLEN MOEN, rhp, University of Oregon (Sr.)
Breakthrough as SR (1-4, 3.07, 8 SV); FB 86-89 as JR, now 90-94; tighter CU, abandoned split for true CH.
9. JAMES NYGREN, rhp, Oregon State University (Sr.)
Raw stuff still not back to FR form (95-96 FB then, 88-92 now), but cleaner delivery, made big strides as SR.
10. JACK MARDER, c, University of Oregon (So.)
Made huge strides defensively, but bat has regressed since HS (.209-2-19); SO eligible, so tricky to figure.
11. RILEY WILKERSON, rhp, West Linn HS
Projectable frame/arm (6-4/180); made + strides (11-1, 1.37), 3 pitches for strikes; OSU commit/tough sign.
12. SAM JOHNSON, rhp, Westview HS, Portland
Top prep arm in state coming in, but velo has slipped (FB in mid-90s last summer, hi-80s now, CU flatter).

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