Draft : : State Preview
Friday, May 17, 2013

MLB Draft Preview: Ohio

Allan Simpson        
Photo: Kent State
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.  Please visit this page for all of the links to Perfect Game's 2013 Draft Preview content.

Ohio State-by-State List

By almost any standard, Kent State—and not The Ohio State University—is the pre-eminent college-baseball program in Ohio, if not the entire upper Midwest. In head coach Scott Stricklin’s nine-year tenure, the Golden Flashes have produced a 355-178 record (entering the final weekend of conference play), and won four straight Mid-American Conference championships.

A year ago, Kent State made its first-ever appearance in the College World Series; a year earlier, it produced four picks in the first 10 rounds of the draft, including a supplemental first-rounder. The Golden Flashes may be somewhat more hard-pressed to make a return visit to Omaha this season, but should influence the draft in a meaningful way again with right-handers Tyler Skulina and Taylor Williams targeted to go 1-2 among college players in the state. In fairness to Ohio State, the Buckeyes might have had the top selection if two-way prospect Josh Dezse hadn’t been lost for the season with a back injury, and they had a better overall record than Kent State even without him. Dezse’s draft status is up in the air.

Ohio also has a deep crop of high school pitchers.

WEAKNESS: Position players
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 4

Kent State

PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Taylor Williams, rhp, Kent State University.
A rare Washington state product attending college in Ohio, Williams wasn’t expected to impact this year’s draft in a significant way initially. Williams, though, has made a major statement this spring, in his first season at Kent State, with his 93-96 mph fastball, dominating power breaking ball and highly-competitive, aggressive approach.

WILD CARD: Josh Dezse, rhp/1b, Ohio State University.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Dezse had every expectation of being drafted in the first round this year, especially after pumping his fastball up to 97 mph as an Ohio State sophomore. But Dezse, who is also a significant prospect as a power-hitting first baseman, never got out of the starting blocks this spring as he couldn’t shake a nagging lower back injury. He finally underwent surgery in early May. It’s still possible a team could take an early-round flier on him, though Dezse may not be in position to play again for several months.

Jared King, of, Kansas State University (attended high school in Dublin); Michael O’Neill, of, University of Michigan (attended high school in Powell)
Top 2014 Prospect: Cameron Varga, rhp/ss, Cincinnati Christian Academy
Top 2015 Prospect: Austin Havekost, rhp, Medina HS, Seville


Draft History:
Tim Belcher, rhp, Mount Vernon Nazarene College (1983, Twins/1st round, 1st pick); Ken Griffey Jr., of, Moeller HS, Cincinnati (1987, Mariners/1st round, 1st pick)
2008 Draft: Chris Carpenter, rhp, Kent State University (Cubs/3rd round)
2009 Draft: Marc Krauss, of, Ohio University (Diamondbacks/2nd round)
2010 Draft: Alex Wimmers, lhp, Ohio State University (Twins/1st round, 21st pick)
2011 Draft: Andrew Chafin, lhp, Kent State University (Diamondbacks/1st round, 43rd pick)
2012 Draft: Matt Smoral, lhp, Solon HS (Blue Jays/1st round, 50th pick)


College Players Drafted/Signed:
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 0/0
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 4/1


Best Athlete:
Taylor Williams, rhp, Kent State University
Best Hitter: Drew Dosch, 3b, Youngstown State University
Best Power: Josh Dezse, rhp/1b, Ohio State University
Best Speed: Andrew Benintendi, of, Madeira HS, Cincinnati
Best Defender: Andrew Benintendi, of, Madeira HS, Cincinnati
Best Velocity: Tyler Skulina, rhp, Kent State University
Best Breaking Stuff: Taylor Williams, rhp, Kent State University
Best Pitchability: Eric Lauer, lhp, Midview HS, Elyria


UP 1 (rounds 1-3)

1. TYLER SKULINA, rhp, Kent State University
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Skulina was a high-profile prospect in 2010, entering his senior season of high school, but fell to the 46th round of that year’s draft because of a minor back injury that impacted his velocity, and firm college commitment to Virginia. Skulina ended up spending just one semester with the Cavaliers before transferring to Kent State, near his northern Ohio home. Though he had to sit out his freshman year with the Golden Flashes because of NCAA transfer rules, Skulina was a force a year ago as a sophomore, winning 11 games while leading Kent State to its first College World Series appearance. He has been more inconsistent this spring as Kent State’s Friday starter, going 5-3, 3.78 in his first 13 starts, with 31 walks and 86 strikeouts in 79 innings. But the strong, durable right-hander has had a handful of outings where he has showcased all the ingredients scouts look for in a first-rounder—and future big-league starter—with three solid-average to plus pitches, all delivered with a pronounced downhill tilt from a tough three-quarter angle. His fastball has been a steady 95-96 mph throughout with tailing movement into right-handed hitters, and he has complemented it with two quality breaking balls, including a hard, biting low-80s slider. Skulina has a better, more-balanced delivery than in high school, but is still prone to games when his velocity dips to 90-91 mph, he’ll struggle with his control and command, and hitters have little difficulty seeing his pitches and squaring him up. His inconsistency, along with the lack of an established changeup, will probably keep him out of the first round, but he should be a factor in the second.

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