High School | General | 2/17/2014

Regional HS Preview: Texahoma

Todd Gold        
Photo: Perfect Game

2014 Perfect Game High School Baseball Preview Index

Texahoma Region: Oklahoma, Texas

Kolek continues recurring theme of big, Texas hurlers

An unsurprising common theme in this space over the past few years has been the power armed Texas flamethrower. There are some power bats in the 2015 class who may be able to change the narrative next year, but with a class headlined by a 6-foot-5 righty who has climbed into the triple digits in the past and has a plus slider to go with it, you simply can't ignore Tyler Kolek. The scary part is that he's developing a quality changeup and throws consistent strikes with his fastball, which allows him to set up the power slider -- not that he needs to at this level.

Throughout the spring there will be a heavy dose of Kolek coverage in the months leading up to the draft, and it's perfectly justified. Righty Kohl Stewart was the fourth overall pick a year ago, and Kolek appears likely to go just as high. It's worth noting that Stewart's stock was up in the air at this time last year, as he worked his way back from injury, so things certainly can and will change over the next few months. And while they could change for the worse for Kolek, there's also a very real chance that he could work his way to the very top of the draft as well.

While Kolek's team (Shepherd high school) isn't necessarily considered the favorite in Class 3A coming into the season, despite his ability and having his talented younger brother Stephen on the team, there is no other player in the region who will draw as much interest.

Texas' 5A reiging champions, The Woodlands, was hit hard by graduation but will have two more season from two-way standout Chris Andritsos and are the type of well coached program that is always competitive and thus can't be counted out of making a return trip to Round Rock. The preseason favorite looks to be CyRanch in 5A, as they are a near consensus No. 1 team in the state regardless of which poll you look at, and they enter the year ranked in the top 10 in the nation by Perfect Game. Houston looks to be the dominant area of the massive state again this year, though North Texas has several very strong clubs as well with Arlington's Martin, Flower Mound and Rockwall. 4A's Corpus Christi Moody is also nationally ranked and the preseason 4A favorite on paper and should be able to challenge any Houston-based contender for a championship in the state's second largest classification.

High School Dream Team
Based on present tools

C - Bryce Carter, Sr., C, Cascia Hall (Okla.)
This is the most competitive position on the dream team, as both Carter and power hitting Michael Cantu would make clear-cut choices in several regions. Carter gets the nod over Cantu for his superior present defense in a very close decision. This is the second year in a row that the catcher on the Texahoma Dream Team has represented Oklahoma, although Michael Hickman looks like a threat to prevent that streak from getting to three years in 2015.

1B - Christifer Andritsos, Jr., RHP/1B, The Woodlands (Texas)
While he may have more long term value on the mound, Andritsos' power bat is a tremenous asset to the defending 5A Texas champions, and he is already the top first baseman in the area as a junior. Ryan Johnson sees time at first base as well, but slots into the outfield presently, clearing the way for Andritsos to handle first this year.

MIF - Justin Twine, Sr., Falls City (Texas)
One of the toolsiest athletes in the region, Twine has a well rounded profile. While he has the ingredients to develop power, he's more of a line drive hitter at present but contributes plenty of offense at this level for a corner position, and when combined with his athleticism at shortstop he's one of the most valuable players in Texas high school baseball. Twine is not only a two-way high school baseball standout, but he's also a standout two-way football player in a football crazed area. That development time lost to football leaves him a bit more raw than some of the other Dream Team selections, but his natural athleticism more than makes up for it. 

MIF - Jon Ducoff, Sr., Kingwood Park (Texas)
Ducoff has some competition for the final MIF spot, but his combination of tools and advanced feel for the game make him the pick. Tristan Grey is a good candidate, but will miss the beginning of the season as he comes back from a minor injury. Two-way Klein Collin standout Jake Jarvis is another qualified candidate who is tough to leave off, but slots in just behind Ducoff.

3B - Travis Jones, Sr., Atascocita (Texas)
Jones' combination of power and athleticism is both unusual and valuable. He will be counted on to produce a lot of runs for Atascocita, while splitting time between the two middle infield positions. He projects for a corner position at the next level, whether with the Texas Longhorns or as a professional, but is a good enough athlete to play up the middle at the high school level. Ke'Bryan Hayes looks to be the heir apparent to this position for next year.

OF - Stone Garrett, Sr., George Ranch (Texas)
One of the most exciting all around tools packages in the region, Garrett makes the Texahoma Dream Team for an extraordinary third consecutive year. From a pure tools standpoint he brings everything scouts look for in an outfielder to the table, and has had a big preseason showing, suggesting he may be in line for a big senior season. If he can show scouts some improved all around feel for the game this season he could come off the board early in the draft, and if not he could be a standout at Rice.

OF - Ryan Johnson, Jr., College Station (Texas)
Johnson enters the second half of his high school career with massive expectations. Johnson is one of the elite power hitters in the 2015 class and has a swing that should allow it to play in games. While he's not an elite defender yet, he has plenty of arm strength for right field. It's too early to call him an elite prospect just yet, but it looks as though Johnson may be heading in that direction.

OF - Jon Littell, Sr., Stillwater (Okla.)
When he steps off the bus Littell catches the attention of scouts and opposing coaches alike. He's a three-sport athlete at Stillwater and is clearly one of the top baseball prospects in the state. He's committed to play for his hometown college team at Oklahoma State, an emerging powerhouse. Littel has average or better tools across the board which may cause those plans to change come June, but between now and then he should be an impact player in the Oklahoma high school ranks. In addition to being a power hitter, he is a good all around player with plenty of arm strength and athleticism.

UT - Corbin Martin, Sr., RHP/OF, Cypress Ranch (Texas)
While most scouts like him on the mound long term, he's a legitimate two-way player for one of the Houston area's top programs - CyRanch. He edges out some very good candidates for this spot, like the highly versatile Jake Jarvis. Martin should serve as the ace for CyRanch and is committed to Texas A&M as a pitcher first who can also contribute as an outfielder.

P - Tyler Kolek, RHP, Sr., Shepherd (Texas)
While there is plenty of competition for the top righthanded high school pitcher in the country, Kolek is clearly at or near the top. He sits in the mid- to upper-90s and backs it with a powerful slider and a solid changeup, and he throws strikes with all three. His size and stuff make him a near certain lock to come off the board among the top five picks come June, and he singlehandedly makes Shepherd a competitive team.

P - Michael Kopech, RHP, Sr., Mt. Pleasant (Texas)
Kopech has a quick arm that has generated low-90s velocity on several of the biggest national stages over the past summer and he's seen an uptick in velocity early this spring, reportedly hitting the mid-90s. He has a hard deep sweeping curveball and flashes a low-80s changeup to go with it. If not for Kolek, Kopech would be this year's Texas flamethrower who grabs the most headlines, but instead the Arizona commit makes a strong No. 2 arm for the Texahoma Dream Team.

P - Turner Larkins, RHP, Sr., Martin (Texas)
While he doesn't fit the mold of the classic Texas high school power pitcher, Larkins shows advanced pitchability, with the ability to throw three different quality pitches for strikes. He typically works 89-91 with good command of his fastball, a highly deceptive changeup with feel in the low-80s, and a deep mid- to upper-70s curveball that also has potential.

P - Trey Supak, RHP, Sr., La Grange (Texas)
The physically imposing Supak certainly looks the part and has begun to take a step forward from last year in terms of pure stuff. He's been getting into the low-90s this spring and his secondary stuff has also come along. If he can maintain that progress and continue to throw quality strikes he could be poised for a big year and has a chance to move up draft boards.

P - Garrett Fulencheck, RHP, Sr., Howe (Texas)
After emerging on the national scene late last summer, Fulencheck doesn't have the lengthy track record that most other 2014 draft prospects do, but he has touched the mid-90s with his fastball and has shown the ability to spin the ball, which will create plenty of draft interest. He is a two-way high school player who contributes as much with the bat as he does on the mound, but he looks like he should be able to become one of the top pitchers in the pitching hotbed state of Texas this spring. His ability and the depth of the 2014 crop of Texas high school arms leaves out Oklahoma's top pitching prospect Braden Webb, and Texas' top 2015 arm Beau Burrows, both of whom are deserving candidates that received strong consideration.

Region Best Tools

Best Hitter For Average: Tristan Gray, Sr., 2B, Fort Bend Elkins (Texas)
This is one of the most heavily contested categories of any regional best tools sections in years. Many Texas based scouts love Gray's bat to ball skills, and his high contact rate makes him the choice in spite of numerous other candidates who could have very well also taken the title. Power hitting 2015 outfielder Ryan Johnson elicited votes from scouts, as did Oklahoma catcher Bryce Carter and outfielder Jon Littell, along with several other names that came up in conversation regarding the best high school hitter in the region.

Best Hitter For Power: Michael Cantu, Sr., C/1B, Moody (Okla.)
Cantu's calling card is his tremendous raw power, and it should make him a top five round draft pick come June, regardless of whether or not he convinces scouts that he can stay behind the plate long term. Any team that believes in him as a catcher long term probably views him as a candidate to go in the top two rounds. He edges out 2015 sluggers Ryan Johnson and Michael Hickman, who have plenty of raw power of their own.

Best Baserunner: Eric Thomas, Sr., OF, Langham Creek (Texas)
While he's not a well known name nationally, Thomas can absolutely fly and he has gamechanging speed on the basepaths and he knows how to use it.

Best Defensive Catcher: Bryce Carter, Sr., C, Cascia Hall (Okla.)
His arm strength stands out behind the plate and he moves much quicker than you'd expect an athlete his size to be able to do so, translating to a surprisingly good overall defensive catcher for a player who is also a physically imposing slugger. Therfore he edges out Cole Bedford, who is a good catcher in his own right.

Best Defensive Infielder: Justin Twine, Sr., MIF, Falls City (Texas)

While there are other infielders who are more polished and consistent, in terms of physical tools, Twine combines impressive quickness and athleticism with good arm strength and has the highest defensive ceiling in the region.

Best Defensive Outfielder: Garrett McCain, Sr., Wylie East (Texas)
McCain combines high level speed and arm strength into a very good all around defensive package. While he doesn't have the biggest individual tool that underlies defenisve ability in the outfield, the synthesis of the overall ingredients combined with the instincts and skills to utilize them makes him the pick here.

Best Infield Arm: Jonathan Ducoff, Sr., MIF, Kingwood Park (Texas)
Ducoff's 90 plus mph arm strength gives him the fallback option of landing at third base if he loses a step or two as he adds muscle to his athletic frame. The arm strength is plenty adequate for either position on the left side of the infield, and right field is another option as well.

Best Outfield Arm: Ryan Johnson, Jr., OF/1B, College Station (Texas)
His power bat is the carrying tool that makes Johnson a high level prospect as an underclassmen, but he has plenty of arm strength to go with it. Stone Garrett and Corbin Martin are other strong candidates from Texas for this category, while Jon Littell of Oklahoma also received consideration.

Best Fastball: Tyler Kolek, RHP, Sr., Shepherd (Texas)
Flirts with and occasionally touches triple digits with his overpowering heater and he throws it for strikes. End of story.

Best Off-speed Stuff: Tyler Kolek, RHP, Sr., Shepherd (Texas)
Not only does he have a plus slider, but the changeup has begun to show steady progress and has the makings of a future average or better pitch at the major league level. That makes it unfair, not only at this level, but he should be able to continue dominating in the professional ranks as well. This is a rare talent.

Best Command: Parker Mushinski, LHP, Sr., Argyle (TX)
He doesn't fit the mold of an effectively wild lefty, or a flamethrowing Texas arm, he also doesn't have a classic pitcher's build, but Mushinski can really command his solid arsenal. There were plenty of strong candidates in this group, many who show good command of their fastball and/or another off-speed pitch, but in terms of commanding the full arsenal, Mushinski gets the slight edge.

Best Pitchability: Turner Larkins, RHP, Sr., Martin (TX)
With more feel for his curveball Larkins would've captured the command category as well. He shows plus command of his fastball and good command of his changeup. He keeps his curveball low when he does miss, and he knows how to use his quality three-pitch mix to carve up opposing llineups with ease, throwing plenty of strikes and consistently working ahead while being able pitch backwards and consistently being one step ahead of the hitter.

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