High School : : General
Monday, March 04, 2013

Regional HS Preview: Great Plains

Todd Gold        
Great Plains Region: Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming

Dual powerhouses provide intrigue in unusually strong year in Colorado while pitching dominates the region

he majority of the country is seeing less depth of talent this year as compared to last, but that isn't the case in Colorado. Powerhouses Cherry Creek and Regis Jesuit, who have won the past two state titles, each provide a good amount of talent in the 2013 and 2014 classes. They met in the 2011 state championship, with Regis coming out on top. Then last season they met in the semifinals, where Cherry Creek took revenge before ultimately winning the championship. Now, both teams enter the season ranked among the top 50 teams in the nation.

It looks as though Cherry Creek has the edge this season, at least on paper. The Bruins are led by two-way standout 1B/RHP Derik Beauprez, a Miami commit who is an impact bat in the middle of the order, but is viewed as a bigger pitching prospect long term by scouts. He's joined by another highly effective two-way player in 3B/RHP Griffin Jax to give them a strong 1-2 punch on the mound in addition to a pair of offense weapons in the middle of the order.  Along with fellow senior, C Lane Milligan, Cherry Creek has a very good nucleus of talent and returns the majority of their state championship squad.

Regis on the other hand is junior heavy, with high level pitching prospect David Peterson, one of the top lefties in the 2014 class, as well as MIF Max George who has a very advanced hit tool. SS Brody Weiss will be counted on to provide senior leadership. Meanwhile, the Raiders are undergoing yet another coaching change, after Walt Weiss left to take the job managing the Colorado Rockies. His successor is another high profile coach, in former Nebraska head coach Mike Anderson.

Loveland RHP Alec Hansen will also get a lot of draft interest as one of the top prospects in the state for the 2013 draft. But entering the season, there is no bigger prospect in the region than Red Wing (MN) OF Ryan Boldt. Boldt enjoyed a breakout performance at the 2012 PG National Showcase in his home state, earning an invitation to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic. Boldt made the most of that opportunity, going 2-for-3 with a triple to earn MVP honors.

In spite of Boldt's presence, the overall strength of the region lies in the quantity of quality arms. The group of pitchers who missed the  cut in this region's dream team can rival that of any region in the country, including the tradition pitching hotbed of Texas. Even with top prospect LHP/1B AJ Puk slotting into the utility spot thanks to his ability with the bat, there is still an intense competition to limit the list of quality arms to just five for the dream team.

Great Pains
High School Dream Team

Based on present tools

C - Jakson Reetz, Jr., Norris (NE)
While the catcher position is arguably the greatest strength of the 2013 class, when it comes to the Great Plains region it is the 2014s who rule the roost. Reetz is a very versatile player whose arm may lead him to the mound at the next level and serves him well in right field. But at this level his ability behind the plate really stands out and he takes honors as the top catcher in the region. Fellow 2014 grads Tanner Gragg of Kansas and Slade Heggen of Montana also warranted consideration. In terms of present defensive ability the choice would be 2013 grad Lane Milligan, but Reetz's impact bat makes up for the difference.

1B - Derik Beauprez, Sr., Cherry Creek (CO)
The scouting community seems to lean toward pitching as the long term career path for Cherry Creek's closer, but right now his bat is ahead and he's one of the most dangerous hitters in the state of Colorado. His power from the left side and defensive ability at first base where his 6-foot-5 frame provides a big target for his infielders make him the obvious choice for the 1B spot for the second year in a row.

MIF - Brody Weiss, Sr., Regis Jesuit (CO)
The son of longtime big leaguer Walt Weiss, Brody displays many of the same traits that allowed him to spend 14 years in the majors. The younger Weiss shows the potential to hit for more power than his father did, and though the bar is set extremely high defensively, it is not out of the question for Brody to develop into a similarly talented shortstop.

MIF - Ryan Howard, Sr., Howell Central (MO)
Howard is not at all the player that his name would suggest. Unlike the Phillies first basemen (a Missouri product himself), the younger Howard is a talented defender in the middle infield. His smooth defensive actions with good routes give him above average range and the energy he plays with allows him to get to a few balls that other fielders would have given up on.

3B - Bobby Dalbec, Sr., Legend (CO)
At the high school level, Dalbec has the ability to play a strong shortstop, where he was a major catalyst for Legend's run to the 5A state championship game last year. But his physicality and arm strength make him a more ideal long term fit for 3B, where he has shown well during the summer and fall at national level tournaments. His bat will be his calling card, as he has big bat speed and plenty of strength to his swing.

OF - Ryan Boldt, Sr., Red Wing (MN)
Boldt has all the makings of a potential first round draft pick. He can run, he can throw, he can defend and he can hit for both average and power. His game has no glaring weaknesses, though he lacks the polish that some of his fellow first round candidates posses, he isn't far off. He's not only the best player in Minnesota, he's the top prospect in the entire region, and it's not that close. If he can stick in centerfield long term it will enhance his value even more.

OF - Monte Harrison, Jr., Lee's Summit West (MO)
Harrison is arguably the best athlete in the region. He's a star point guard and quarterback for Lee's Summit West, and in addition to being a talented center fielder, he ran his fastball up to 87 mph at the 2012 16u WWBA National Championship. Like with most multi-sport athletes, Harrison's game is a tick behind in the finer skills departments compared to his baseball only counterparts. But he more than makes up for it with raw athleticism and talent, and has a chance to become a very high level player as he continues to develop.

OF - Lex Kaplan, Sr., Ladue (MO)
A well rounded centerfielder, Kaplan's game is highlighted by his speed and his bat speed. He's also got a solid upper 80s arm and is a secondary pitcher as well. His ability to player centerfield and swing the bat with authority from the left side make him an interesting prospect who is committed to Miami.

UT - AJ Puk, Sr., LHP/1B, Washington (IA)
Puk could slot in as the ace of the dream team, of a middle of the order first basemen. If he goes the college route, it's likely that he will be both of those things to the Florida Gators. Puk gets good extension on his low 90s fastball with hard lefty tailing action from a low 3/4 arm slot that is especially brutal on left handed hitters. He's got a hard biting breaking ball and has made strides with his changeup. His biggest weakness as a hitter is his lack of speed, but he has high level hitting tools and should continue to be an impact player as both a pitcher and a position player in the SEC.

P - Bryce Montes de Oca, RHP, Jr., Lawrence (KS)
Monster is the word that comes to mind when thinking about Montes de Oca. At 6-foot-7 and 265 pounds he stands head and shoulders above his peers, and not just literally. His fastball is heavy, coming from a sharp downhill plane and sat 93-95 mph at the 2012 WWBA World Championship in Jupiter. He's still putting some of the pieces together with controlling the running game and finding consistency with his release point, but his present stuff is absolutely overpowering and he's able to harness it enough already to be successful. His upside is as enormous as he is.

P - Devin Williams
, RHP, Sr., Hazelwood West (MO)
Williams fits the mold of a high level Dominican pitching prospect. With a lithe athletic body of medium stature and an electric whippy arm with very loose arm action, Williams has seen a steady climb in his velocity throughout his high school career, and could possibly continue to do so. He got his fastball up to 94 mph at the PG Pitcher/Catcher Indoor Showcase in February, and with the life and movement on the pitch that he commands well, it's a very good pitch. His offspeed stuff has shown development as well with a good slider and changeup.

P - David Peterson, LHP, Jr., Regis Jesuit (CO)
Peterson is a rare commodity, in that he's is a 6-foot-6 left hander with good command. He also has climbed into the upper 80s and has begun to climb into the low 90s with a fastball that he practically hands to the catcher thanks to the long extension he creates with his long limbs. His curveball shows good spin rate and depth, though it's direction will need to improve once he begins to climb the ladder in professional baseball, but he's well ahead of the curve for a junior in high school.

P - Jake Brentz, LHP, Sr., Parkway South (MO)
Brentz will be joining AJ Puk in the 2013 PG Iowa Spring Scout League, rather than playing his senior season at Parkway South. Brentz was a primary outfielder until the fall, when the scouting interest in his ability on the mound finally persuaded him to focus on pitching. He ran his fastball up to 94 mph at the 2012 WWBA World Championship in Jupiter in front of the entire baseball scouting community. From that moment on, his draft stock has skyrocketed and the scouting interest has become quite strong.

P - Alec Hansen, RHP, Sr., Loveland (CO)
Hansen's live arm and explosive fastball give him the final spot on the Dream Team. It says a lot about Hansen to make the cut ahead of the likes of Logan Shore, Alex Lange and Denton Keys. In other year's other arms like Derek Burkamper, Keaton McKinney, Reagan Todd, Mitch Keller, Brian Howard, Max Knutson and Dan Herrmann would've had a shot as well.  

Great Plains Region Best Tools

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