Draft : : State Preview
Friday, May 18, 2012

State Preview: Washington

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

Washington State-by-State List
2011 Washington Overview

Washington Overview:
Coulter, Gueller Headline Strong Washington Prep Crop

The 2012 Washington draft crop looks strikingly similar in substance and feel to the state’s 2011 pool of draftable talent. It’s unclear whether it will play out the same way once all the dust has settled.

Just like a year ago, there is a prominent contingent of high-school players at the top end of the draft—five to be exact, led by Union High catcher Clint Coulter and W.F. West High outfielder/righthander Mitchell Gueller. Both are candidates to be drafted as early as the sandwich round. Behind that pair are three more prep standouts, all of whom have the raw ability to go in the first 3-5 rounds.

That’s just about the way the Washington prep crop stacked up a year ago, only there were even more players given a realistic shot at being drafted in the first 10 rounds. As it turned out, only one player, Shorewood High lefthander Blake a Snell, a supplemental first-round selection of the Tampa Bay Rays, went pretty much where his talent warranted. The uncertain signability status of the remainder sent most careening down draft boards—and out of the draft altogether in the case of two prominent current Oregon State freshmen, outfielder Michael Conforto and two-way player Dylan Davis. Conforto (.354-11-63) has merely been the unqualified offensive star this spring for the Beavers; Davis has also been a key contributor as an everyday player, but more noteworthy, there have been reports of the multi-talented Davis hitting 100 mph this spring with his fastball.

Washington’s underrated junior-college ranks played a prominent role in the draft a year ago as Lower Columbia College righthander Jeff Ames was the nation’s first juco pitcher drafted, going to the Rays with the 42nd
 pick overall. That situation could repeat itself as Bellevue CC righthander Adrian Sampson was ranked as the best JC arm in the country last fall, although he has since been passed with all the four-year college transfers that infiltrated the junior-college ranks prior to the start of the 2012 season. Despite dropping a few spots, Sampson could still easily be scooped up in the first four or five rounds, and there is a strong possibility that last year’s total of eight junior-college drafts could be duplicated, or even topped.

As for the state’s four-year college crop, it’s unlikely anyone will climb as high as the second round like Washington State lefthander Adam Conley a year ago, but Washington third baseman Jake Lamb, along with senior outfielders Royce Bolinger of Gonzaga and Derek Jones of Washington State, could factor in shortly thereafter. In fact, as many as 6-7 Washington college products could be taken in the first 10 rounds, with a number of familiar draft names among. Jones and WSU teammate Taylor Ard both went drafted and unsigned a year ago, while two newcomers to the mix this year, Bolinger and Washington red-shirt junior righthander Aaron West, were eligible for the draft a year ago, but passed over.

Now if Tampa Bay will only draft the first Washington player again this year, the similarities between 2011 and 2012 will be almost complete. Not only did the Rays select the first two Washington state players a year ago in Ames and Snell, but they also scooped up the top three players in 2010, as well.

Washington in a nutshell:

Front-line high-school talent
WEAKNESS: Signable high-school talent.
OVERALL RATING (1-to-5 scale): 4.


PROSPECT ON THE RISE: Royce Bolinger, of, Gonzaga University.
It’s been evident since he was a freshman at Gonzaga that the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Bolinger had the raw tools (especially power and arm strength) to be a prominent draft pick one day—provided he hit at an acceptable level. For three years, he didn’t as he produced just a .256 average with 11 homers. This year has been a revelation for Bolinger, however, as he has pounded the ball at a .397 clip, and with 10 homers on the season, he has nearly equaled his career output.

WILD CARD: Mitchell Gueller, rhp/of, W.F. West HS, Rochester.
Hitter or pitcher? That the decision scouts face with Gueller, a prominent three-sport athlete who may be the only potential five-tool talent in the Pacific Northwest. More established as an everyday player, Gueller has come on strong this spring as a prominent pitching prospect with a fastball in the mid-90s.

BEST OUT-OF-STATE PROSPECT, Washington Connection:
Matt Boyd, lhp, Oregon State University (Attended high school in Mercer Island).
Top 2013 Prospect: Reese McGuire, c, Kentwood HS, Covington.
Top 2014 Prospect: Jason Todd, of, Jackson HS, Mill Creek.


Draft History:
Mike Lentz, lhp, Juanita HS, Kirkland (1975, Padres/1st round, 2nd pick).
2006 Draft: Tim Lincecum, rhp, University of Washington (Giants/1st round, 10th pick).
2007 Draft: Clay Mortensen, rhp, Gonzaga University (Cardinals/1st round, 36th pick).
2008 Draft: Christian Scholl, rhp, Green River CC (Angels/8th round).
2009 Draft: Kyrell Hudson, of, Evergreen HS, Vancouver (Phillies/3rd round).
2010 Draft: Josh Sale, of, Bishop Blanchet HS, Seattle (Rays/1st round, 17th pick).
2011 Draft: Jeff Ames, rhp, Lower Columbia JC (Rays/1st round, 42nd pick).


College Players Drafted/Signed:
Junior College Players Drafted/Signed: 8/2.
High School Players Drafted/Signed: 13/2.


Best Athlete:
Mitchell Gueller, of/rhp, W.F. West HS, Rochester.
Best Hitter: Taylor Ard, 1b, Washington State University.
Best Power: Clint Coulter, c, Union HS, Camas.
Best Speed: Mitchell Gueller, of/rhp, W.F. West HS, Rochester.
Best Defender: Jacob Lamb, 3b, University of Washington.
Best Velocity: Mitchell Gueller, of/rhp, W.F. West HS, Rochester.
Best Breaking Stuff: Adrian Sampson, rhp, Bellevue CC.
Best Pitchability: Aaron West, rhp, University of Washington.


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

1. CLINT COULTER, c, Union HS, Camas
Coulter has a very unusual background for a top baseball prospect as he was the Washington 3-A state wrestling champion at 189 pounds as a sophomore, going 39-1, before giving up the sport entirely to concentrate on baseball. He quickly filled out to his present 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame and ranks as one of the stronger players in the 2012 draft class. Coulter’s strength shows through in his tremendous power at the plate. He isn’t a quick-twitch athlete, but rather overpowers balls with a sound, fundamental swing that is very short and quick for his size. But he is at his best as a hitter when he drives balls to all fields, and doesn’t get pull-happy. Coulter has worked closely with his coach at Union High, former big-league catcher Tom Lampkin, to develop and refine his defensive skills. He has above-average arm strength, but scouts have concerns about his ability to stick behind the plate in the long run, although his bat is strong enough for first base, or even left field, to become a legitimate option down the road. Coulter says he patterns his game after the Texas Rangers’ Mike Napoli, a very fitting and appropriate comparison. Scouts praise Coulter for his makeup and say he is the kind of player who will do whatever it takes to play the game at the highest level.

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