High School : : General
Monday, February 18, 2013

Regional HS Preview: Texahoma

Todd Gold        
Photo: Perfect Game
2013 Perfect Game High School Baseball Preview Index

Texahoma Region: Oklahoma, Texas

Texas power arms continue to be the story

It's become an obvious truism of scouting that the state of Texas spits out power arms in abundance on an annual basis. This year is no different, with Casey Shane and Kohl Stewart the current top level arms, but with a very large group of pitches a notch behind them with a chance to take a significant step forward and join that echelon in the near future.

The torch continues to be passed down through the generations, and this year one former great has a direct contribution to the current crop, as Roger Clemen's son Kacy Clemens is one of many Texas hurlers who has big time upside that will create a lot of interest come June. Clemens is far from the only player with a famous surname, as well known bloodlines are especially abundant in this year's Texas class. Torii Hunter Jr will miss the spring season after suffering a football injury but he would have joined with Cavan Biggio, Preston Palmeiro and Josh Pettite as sons of highly accomplished Major Leaguers who will have an impact on their respective teams this season.

One less obvious bloodlines player who gets overlooked a bit because he devotes a lot of time to other sports as well is Waco Midway MIF Kramer Robertson. Robertson is the son of Kim Mulkey, a 1984 gold medal winner as a member of the US Women's Basketball team and NCAA National Champion head coach at Baylor. His father played quarterback at Louisiana Tech and his sister McKenzie is a junior guard at Baylor. During the fall Robertson was the starting quarterback for Midway's regional finalist team that went 13-1. But now that spring is here, the LSU signee will turn his attention back to baseball...for good. He enters his senior spring as the 226th ranked prospect for the 2013 MLB Draft, suggesting he'll need a big spring to draw the kind of interest it would take to sign him away from Baton Rouge, but he definitely shows the kind of ability to exceed those expectations.

The power arms in Texas will be one of the big stories throughout the season, with Kohl Stewart in particular being of strong interest. He's still recovering from an injury suffered while playing quarterback for St. Pius X, but is expected to be back on the mound at some point in March. His defending TAPPS 5A state champion St. Pius X Wildcats will be pushed in their title defense yet again by rival St. Thomas Catholic, which is led by 2013 MIF Cavan Biggio. While the TAPPS section will be top heavy, the public school 5A class looks wide open.

The 4A class looks to be strongly in favor of Tomball in the Houston area, while Rockwall-Heath still looks strong in the Dallas area in spite of graduating second round RHP/1B Jake Thompson. But Texas 5A looks to be anyone's title for the taking. Dulles opens the season as the highest ranked team, but they'll get strong competition out of Seven Lakes and Pearland. Defending champion Cypress Ranch will have to replace a lot of players from last year's team but have a lot of incoming underclass talent. Seven Lakes was already strong before receiving a key transfer in 2015 C/1B Michael Hickman, while not many sophomores can make a dramatic immediate impact, Hickman is currently the fifth ranked player in nation for his class and has the kind of offensive upside to do just that.

The state of Oklahoma is down a bit, as for the first time in several years there isn't a power arm that grabs headlines. RHP Trey Cobb has high level pitchability, though he doesn't fit the mold of Dylan Bundy, Archie Bradley and Ty Hensley who carried that banner over the the past two seasons. There was hope that Thomas Hatch could take a step forward and become the next in line, but to this point he hasn't done that and belongs a tier below those types. However, C Jon Denney is doing his part to make up for it by establishing himself as a legitimate first round candidate by combining big time power and high level defensive tools. While it won't have a major impact on the high school season, the storyline in Oklahoma with major draft implications is Drew Ward's efforts to become eligible for the 2013 draft. Ward is the same age as most 2013 grads, and he plays for Leedey High School in Class B level baseball, where he isn't challenged by the level of competition.

High School Dream Team

Based on present tools

C - Jon Denney, Sr., Yukon (OK)
Denney has emerged as the top prospect not only in the state of Oklahoma, but also in the region. While the high school catching class of 2013 is historically strong, Denney has begun to separate himself from most of the pack, and is firmly in the top two along with Washington product Reese McGuire in the minds of most scouts entering the spring. Texas product Corey Simpson has big time power and would have been a strong candidate if not for the presence of Denney, who has a more well rounded profile to go with the power bat. 2014 grad Michael McCann looks like a contender for this category next year, and could even make a case for top pure catcher in Texas alongside Tres Barrera.

1B - Kendall Coleman, Sr., Rockwall (TX)
The big physically built Coleman splits his time between an outfield corner and first base, but his footwork around the bag has scouts  a bit more interested in him at that position long term. His power potential should allow him to produce enough offensively for the spot as well, as he posses very good bat speed and is beginning to develop the strength to become a consistent home run threat. Oklahoma Mason O'Brien is the early favorite to take over the position on the 2014 dream team.

MIF - Cavan Biggio, Sr., St. Thomas Catholic (TX)
Biggio has huge shoes to fill, with a (soon to be) hall of fame father but it is quite clear from watch him that he has taken full advantage of the learning opportunities that come with his bloodlines. Biggio has a highly advanced approach at the plate and gives nothing away in hit at-bats. His offensive profile isn't strictly refined to skills however, as his tools are also impressive with good bat speed from the left side and the ability to drive the ball for power when the opportunity presents itself. His defensive tools are average, but he shows enough instincts to be a solid defender at second base, and will be solid enough defensively for his potentially elite level bat to pace an offense.

MIF - Kramer Robertson, Sr., Midway (TX)
Combining a well rounded tool set with a winner's approach and intensity, Robertson is one of the few exciting infielders in the year's class in the region. A mult-sport athlete, Robertson has likely only begun to scratch the surface of his potential as a baseball player. He does just about everything well, with a strong enough arm for the left side of the infield and highly energetic and ahtletic infield actions he's a strong defender at short, and in spite of some length to his swing shows the ability to make good contact against high level pitching and has started to develop power. While he's not a burner, he's an above average runner who makes the most of his speed and has good all around quickness. Another multi-sport star from Texas, Justin Twine, looks like the early favorite to take over this spot in 2014. Other middle infielders to keep an eye on in the region include: Sheldon Neuse, Bret Boswell and Ryne Birk from Texas as well as Andrew Rosa and Trey Michalczewski from Oklahoma.

3B - Drew Ward, Jr/Sr., Leedey (OK)
What grade year Ward classifies as is up in the air as we head into the 2013 season, with Ward attempting to become eligible for the MLB Draft this June. What is clear however, is that whenever he is eligible his power bat will warrant him plenty of first round consideration. The hit tool is a bit behind the massive raw power, but Ward should dominate against small town competition in Oklahoma and while his defense at short isn't standout, he'll be an asset at this level and has a chance to stick on the left side of the infield.

OF - Billy McKinney, Sr., Plano West (TX)
Possibly the most polished bat in the region after Cavan Biggio, McKinney combines a short swing with good bat speed and strength to be a dominant offensive force at the high school level. He creates backspin at contact and drives the ball with authority while showing the ability to square up even high level pitching. He's an average runner with a strong arm and is solid defensively in the outfield as well, making him arguably the best present ability outfielder in the region.

OF - Stone Garrett, Jr., Georg Ranch (TX)
Having ridden the ups and downs of being a high school underclassmen playing in a hotbed area like Texas and having been relied upon to help carry a young team, Garrett has learned some hard lessons at the plate in his high school career. But that experience is starting to pay dividends as he has begun to harness his high level hitting tools and has a chance to become one of the top hitters in the 2014 high school class. He's an above average present runner and has an above average arm with a chance to develop further, giving him more than just a high level bat. If everything comes together he has a chance to become a major impact player, in the meantime he should be one of the better outfielders in the region while his game matures.

OF - Nick Banks, Sr., Tomball (TX)
While a lot of his value at the high school level is derrived from his ability on the mound as a left handed pitcher, his long term future will be based around his left handed bat and corner outfield defense. His left handed bat speed comes easy and he drives the ball with power when he squares it up, his arm strength makes right field a long term option, or will allow him to be a standout defender in left. Should he choose to enroll at Texas A&M, where he has signed a National Letter of Intent, he has a chance to contribute as a two-way player. Other outfielders who garnered consideration include: Nick Buckner, Darryn Sheppard, Walker Pennington and Eric Williams.

UT - Kacy Clemens, Sr., RHP/1B, Spring Branch Memorial (TX)
The son of MLB legend Roger Clemens has some strong resemblences on the mound, and that is where most scouts think he offers the highest long term upside. But it's his left handed bat that has been his calling card throughout the early part of his high school career. He's begun to catch up as a pitcher and looks like a very strong prospect on the mound, but should he decide to follow in his father's footsteps and play his college ball for the Texas Longhorns, he will likely contribute as a two-way player. Other players who garnered consideration include: INF/RHP Sheldon Neuse and RHP/OF Jake Jarvis.

P - Casey Shane, RHP, Sr., Centennial (TX)
Cut from the cloth of the classic Texas flamethrower, Shane is big, powerful and mixes a firm heater with quality secondary stuff. While the velocity on his fastball is impressive in it's own right, it's the life with sink and run that makes it such a difficult pitch for hitters to handle. Additionally, he has shown the ability to locate it on a fairly consistent basis already and he backs it with a well above average present curveball in the upper 70s with hard spin and bite. His emerging changeup gives him the potential for three plus pitches long term and his present ability make him one of the safest bets in the region to have a successful professional career.

P - Kohl Stewart, RHP, Sr., St. Pius X (TX)
The upside to Stewart trumps that of anyone in the region. He'll start his season late as he recovers from an injury suffered during football season, but when he does finally take the mound for the defending 5A TAPPS state champions, scouts will turn out in droves to watch the potential first rounder. Having spent so much time away from baseball, as one of the nation's top quarterback recruits, suggests that Stewart has only begun to scratch the surface on his upside. His mid 90s fastball and present plus power slider (in the mid-upper 80s) give him at least two plus pitches, with a changeup that has potential to become a third. He doesn't yet have the pitchability and command of Shane, but he has a good chance to overtake him as the top Texan hurler at some point if he can stay healthy.

P - Trey Cobb, RHP, Sr., Broken Arrow (OK)
Cobb doesn't throw with the same kind of velocity as the two affore mentioned power arms, but he brings a very advanced level of pitchability to the mound and slots in nicely as the No. 3 starter on the Dream Team. Long term he projects as a mid-rotation starter in pro ball as well, the kind of pitcher who can chew through a large number of quality innings thanks to his ability to get ahead and throw strikes effectively with his fastball and curveball. His fastball features late darting action with big movement and he has good feel for how to utilize that sudden movement most of the time. His curveball has good depth and hard spin, the shape is two plane, but his feel for it allows him to snap it over the back corner or induce chase swings away. His changeup makes occasional cameos, though he hasn't had much use for it given his typical dominance at this level, but the changeup has a chance to be an average or better pitch long term. If he makes it to Oklahoma State he could contribute right away, though he'll garner some draft interest that could change those plans.

P - Brandon Gilson, LHP, Sr., Prosper (TX)
The region is very righty heavy this year, but Gilson and projection lefty Tyler Alexander are a pair of southpaws to watch. Gilson gets the nod over the highly projectable Alexander on the Dream Team due to his present polish and higher velocity, but both are quite good. Gilson snaps off a good mid 70s curveball with 12-6 shape and mixes in a solid changeup to go with a fastball that sits comfortably in the upper 80s and touches 90 at times.

P - Casey Meisner, RHP, Sr., Cypress Woods (TX)
At 6-foot-7 and 185 pounds, Meisner is still growing into his frame and like most young pitchers with such lanky stature, it is difficult for him to repeat his delivery at times. But he is ahead of the curve with doing so and has shown tremendous strides, and as he becomes more efficient with his delivery his impressive arm will begin to generate higher velocities and his secondary stuff will take on increased power. The upside on Meisner is high, and though he's not close to his ceiling, he's beginning to reach levels of ability that will allow him to dominate high school competition. Don't be surprised if he starts hitting the mid 90s in the near future and when he does he'll start climbing up draft boards. As usual, this region offers extreme pitching depth and a lot of high level arms were left off as a result...far too many to name individually.

Region Best Tools

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