Draft : : State Preview
Friday, May 11, 2012

Draft Preview: New Mexico

Allan Simpson        
Photo: Perfect Game

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: David Rawnsley

New Mexico State-by-State List
2011 New Mexico Overview

New Mexico Overview:
Bregman Still Seen As Top Draft, Despite Injury

New Mexico produced a rare first-round draft pick in 2011, when hard-hitting Cleveland High catcher Blake Swihart was snapped up with the 26th 
pick by the Boston Red Sox. The state’s next pick didn’t come until the 47th round and only four players were drafted overall.

There won’t be a first-rounder this year, especially when the only player initially projected to go that high, Albuquerque Academy catcher/shortstop Alex Bregman, missed most of the season with a broken finger. But at least four New Mexico high-school players, including Bregman, are pretty much assured of being drafted this year, and that alone will be an upgrade on 2011. The college crop should also be much more of a factor.

Curiously, New Mexico and New Mexico State, the state’s two Division I programs, have followed somewhat the same blueprints as a year ago. New Mexico got off to a rough start (0-8), only to put on a late charge to win the Mountain West Conference tournament, while New Mexico State burst out of the gates at 9-0, only to enter the six-team Western Athletic Conference post-season tournament as a No. 6 seed and have their season end quickly.

The Lobos began this season at 2-9, only to quickly right the ship and improve to 27-21 overall by the second week of May, while also grabbing a share of the conference lead at 13-5. The Aggies, meanwhile, got off to another hot start, only to slip later in the season and they had lost six in a row entering the second weekend of May, and yet are still 30-17 overall, and 7-6 in WAC play.

No one has been more responsible for New Mexico’s turnaround than sophomore first baseman D.J. Peterson, considered the best college hitting prospect in the southwest and a potential first-round pick in 2013. Peterson leads the Lobos in average (.425), homers (14) and RBIs (59). Three of his teammates, junior righthander Austin House, junior catcher Mitch Garver and senior righthander Gera Sanchez, in particular, have done plenty to contribute to New Mexico’s resurgence, as well, while also enhancing their own status for this year’s draft, with House and Garver now solid bets to go in the first 10 rounds. House has been dominant as the Lobos’ Friday starter while Garver was named conference player of the week three times in April.

New Mexico in a nutshell:

Catching talent.
WEAKNESS: Signable high-school talent.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 3.

New Mexico.
BEST HIGH SCHOOL TEAM: La Cueva HS, Albuquerque.

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Mitch Garver, c, University of New Mexico.
Garver has enjoyed a breakout 2012 season at the plate, hitting .371-6-43 with 20 doubles through New Mexico’s first 48 games. He was particularly hot in April, when heavily scouted, and many scouts came away believing Garver may now be a better overall prospect than fellow Mountain West Conference catcher Josh Elander, who began the 2012 season as one of the nation’s top two- or three-ranked players at his position in the country, and a potential first-rounder.

WILD CARD: Alex Bregman, c/ss, Albuquerque Academy.
Bregman is without a doubt the best baseball prospect in New Mexico. He also may be the most unsignable as he is heavily committed to attending college at Louisiana State—a stance that was almost-assuredly reaffirmed when Bregman broke a finger on a bad-hop ground ball in pre-game practice prior to the fifth game of the 2012 season, and was lost for two months. With so little time remaining to properly scout and evaluate him before the draft, it seems unlikely that any team will be able to pay him the kind of signing bonus (probably the equivalent of first- or second-round money) that it would take to pry Bregman away from LSU.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, New Mexico Connection:
Iseha Conklin, of, Iowa Western CC (Attended high school in Silver City).
Top 2013 Prospect: D.J. Peterson, 1b, University of New Mexico.
Top 2014 Prospect: Ryan Padilla, of, University of New Mexico.


Draft History:
Duane Ward, rhp, Farmington HS (1982, Braves/1st round, 9th pick).
2006 Draft: Luke Hopkins, 1b, New Mexico State University (Blue Jays/5th round).
2007 Draft: Matt Moore, lhp, Moriarty HS, Edgewood (Rays/8th round).
2008 Draft: Bobby LaFromboise, lhp, University of New Mexico (Mariners/8th round).
2009 Draft: Max Walla, of, Albuquerque Academy (Brewers/2nd round).
2010 Draft: Rafael Neda, c, University of New Mexico (Brewers/10th round).
2011 Draft: Blake Swihart, c, Cleveland HS, Rio Rancho (Red Sox/1st round, 26th pick).


College Players Drafted/Signed:
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 1/0.
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 2/1.


Best Athlete:
Shilo McCall, of, Piedra Vista HS, Farmington.
Best Hitter: Alex Bregman, c/ss, Albuquerque Academy.
Best Power: Alex Bregman, c/ss, Albuquerque Academy.
Best Speed: Shilo McCall, of, Piedra Vista HS, Farmington.
Best Defender: Alex Bregman, c/ss, Albuquerque Academy.
Best Velocity: Austin House, rhp, University of New Mexico.
Best Breaking Stuff: Gera Sanchez, rhp, University of New Mexico.
Best Pitchability: Gera Sanchez, rhp, University of New Mexico.


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

1. ALEX BREGMAN, c/ss, Albuquerque Academy
Bregman first gained national attention when he was named USA Baseball’s 2010 Player of the Year (an award that had been most-recently won by current big-leaguers Justin Smoak in 2009 and Stephen Strasburg in 2008) for his part in leading the program’s 16-and-under national team to a gold medal at the 2010 Pan American championships in Mexico. Bregman hit .574-2-17 in nine games during the tournament. A year later, he won another gold medal as a member of USA Baseball’s gold-medal-winning, 18-and-under team at the IBAF World Junior Championship. Beyond all his international accomplishments, Bregman had already firmly established himself as the elite hitting prospect in his home state, and one of the best in the country, by batting .678 as a junior for Albuquerque Academy, while setting a state single-season record with 19 home runs. Bregman was primed for a big senior season, especially since he would be making the conversion from shortstop to catcher, but never got on track as he broke the middle finger on his throwing hand on a bad hop in pre-game drills prior to the fifth game, though still played in the contest and went 3-for-4. A day later, the break was discovered. He was finally cleared to play again in time for the New Mexico state playoffs the second week of May. While Bregman’s powerful righthanded bat is a well-known quantity, scouts are less certain about his future position Though his progress behind the plate was compromised this spring by his untimely injury, he flashed solid catch-and-throw skills in limited looks, especially a very quick release, and his take-charge approach seems to make the position a natural fit. Bregman’s makeup and aptitude for the game are considered off-the-charts by scouts, and it seems just a matter of time until he settles into a new position, rather than a question of whether he might be able to handle it.

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