Baseball America ranks Moses Lake Pirates’ ace Jorge Reyes of OSU #1 WCCBL prospect

Baseball America and Perfect Game Crosschecker recently announced their summer collegiate prospect lists. Check ’em out below.

By John Manuel, Baseball America
August 29, 2007

1. Jorge Reyes, rhp, Moses Lake (So., Oregon State)

The Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 College World Series, Reyes dominated in his second summer in the WCCBL, though he pitched just five times (three starts). He posted a 28-2 strikeout-walk ratio in 21 innings and has a big pro body with a clean, easy arm. The rising sophomore works off a fastball that sits in the 92-93 mph range.

2. Greg Peavey, rhp, Corvallis (Fr., Oregon State)

Peavey closed this summer in Corvallis and probably will do much of the same for three years for the Beavers after turning down six figures from the Yankees as a 24th-round pick. Peavey has effort in his delivery but usually has a fastball around 92 mph, touching 94, to go with a good, hard slider.

3. Kevin Castner, rhp, Corvallis (R-So., Cal Poly)

The physical 6-foot-4, 230-pound Castner has pitched just seven innings in college due to a shoulder injury that caused him to redshirt as a freshman, and due to poor performance this spring (15.43 ERA). He impressed scouts by topping out at 98 mph and pitching at 92-96 mph. He lacks much of a feel for anything soft and throws an inconsistent 83-84 mph slider. Castner could become a premium power reliever but needs work on his control.

4. Mike Koons, rhp, Corvallis (SIGNED: Astros)

Koons has good arm strength and showed average velocity on his fastball, slider and changeup both as a starter and as a reliever. None of his pitches is above-average but he competes well and throws strikes. He worked middle relief for San Diego State and signed with the Astros during the summer as a nondrafted free agent.

5. Paul Applebee, lhp, Bellingham (So., UC Riverside)

With a 0.60 ERA, Applebee led the league and had four of Bellingham’s 16 victories. He works off an 86-88 mph fastball that had good life and knows how to command the pitch. He showed some feel for his breaking ball and changeup as well, and his quick arm works well. Applebee could stand to add some weight and strength to his 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame.

6. Blake Keitzman, lhp, Corvallis (So., Oregon State)

Keitzman could be next in the Oregon State lefthanded reliever tradition that includes Kevin Gunderson and Joe Paterson. Keitzman mostly started this summer and had success with it, striking out a batter an inning with a power breaking ball and 88-90 mph fastball. The effort in his delivery and his slight size (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) profile him better for the bullpen in the future, where his aggressiveness would be well-suited.

7. James Paxton, lhp, Kelowna (So., Kentucky)

The British Columbia native returned home and moved from a lefty-specialist role that he filled with Kentucky into a starting role. He was the league leader in starts (11), innings (70 1/3) and strikeouts (62). He has a lower arm slot conducive to his sinker-slider approach. His fastball runs into the upper 80s and he commands the pitch well. His breaking ball needs to improve to give him a second average pitch.

8. Marco Grifantini, rhp, Bend (Sr., UC Davis)

Grifantini was one of the league’s older players but also one of its liveliest arms. His mechanics aren’t clean but provide some deception, and the ball comes out of his hand with life. His fastball reaches 94 mph and sits in the low 90s, and he throws downhill from his 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame.

9. Kyle Howe, rhp, Kitsap (Sr., Nevada)

Another older pitcher, Howe has a big, durable body and throws downhill. His fastball sits in the mid-80s but has late life to his arm side, and he can touch 90. He keeps hitters off balance by using all parts of the strike zone and using his slider and solid-average changeup in fastball counts. He needs to learn to put hitters away (39 strikeouts in 60 innings).

10. Koa Kahalehoe, of, Bend (Jr., Oregon State)

After arriving late from the College World Series, Kahalehoe established himself as one of the league’s top hitters and is the only one to crack the pitcher-heavy league’s top 10. He’s an average defender in the corners, runs well and showed improved power, hitting three homers with wood after going homerless with metal in the spring. That he showed good power after having wrist problems earlier in his career was another good sign for Kahalehoe’s offense.

By Allan Simpson, Perfect Game Crosschecker

Corvallis, Ore., was never confused as a hotbed for college and summer league baseball – at least not until Oregon State stunned the college baseball world by winning back-to-back College World Series titles in 2006 and 2007. The Beavers’ unlikely success spurred the three-year-old West Coast Collegiate League’s Aloha Knights, the 2004 National Baseball Congress World Series champions, to relocate to Corvallis for the 2007 season, and suddenly Corvallis’ impact as a baseball hot spot – on the West Coast, at least – spread to the summer.

While Corvallis (27-15) won the league’s Western Division title, but lost 2-0 to Moses Lake in the league’s best-of-3 championship series, the Knights showed their dominance by placing a league-high eight players on the accompanying list of the league’s 25 best prospects. In fact, between them, there were 12 Knights and/or Oregon State players who cracked the list. Had righthander Matt Fitts, a 15th-round pick of the Houston Astros in this year’s draft from NAIA World Series champion Lewis-Clark State, and power-hitting third baseman Brent Morel from Cal Poly, not gotten hurt and played only briefly for the Knights, the Corvallis/Oregon State factor would have extended to 14 players.

Overall, pitching dominated the league this summer with three teams posting team ERAs of 2.39 or better. Appropriately, the first eight names and 11 of the top 12 on the top 25 prospects list are pitchers.

#1, Jorge Reyes, RHP, Moses Lake Pirates (Oregon State)
SCOUTING REPORT: Reyes was named the Most Outstanding Player in this year’s College World Series as a freshman, and he was an overwhelming choice as the top prospect in the WCCL. Though he arrived late because of his participation in the CWS and made just five appearances for Moses Lake during the regular season to give his weary arm a rest after working in 81 innings for Oregon State, he showed pinpoint control of all his pitches to both sides of the plate, including a hard-breaking slider, a developing changeup and a fastball with late life that was a steady 92-93 mph, and topped out at 95. At Oregon State, the pitch reached 96. In 21 innings at Moses Lake, he walked just two and allowed one earned run while striking out 28. Extremely projectable at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, Reyes has a clean, almost effortless delivery. He works at an easy tempo, but is a mentally-tough, very competitive kid and will challenge hitters. Moses Lake is a mere 10 minutes from Reyes’ home in Warden, Wash., and Pirates coach Gabe Boruff who has coached Reyes every year in summer ball since he was 16, says Reyes took a quantum leap forward after a year at Oregon State, adding 4-5 mph to his velocity while significantly improving the command of his slider. He projects as a first-round pick in 2009.

#2, Greg Peavey, RHP, Corvallis Knights (Oregon State)
SCOUTING REPORT: One of USA Baseball’s most decorated youth and junior players leading up to his senior year at Hudson’s Bay High in Vancouver, Wash., Peavey was expected to be an early-round pick in the 2007 draft. But he didn’t perform consistently to his previous lofty standard as the velocity on his fastball slipped from 92-94 mph to the high 80s, and he tumbled all the way to the 24th round, where he was drafted by the New York Yankees. Though the Yankees were prepared to give Peavey a reported $400,000 as a signing bonus at the Aug. 15 signing deadline, Peavey’s price tag was almost double that figure and the two sides never struck a deal, paving the way for Peavey to attend college at Oregon State. As a 19-year-old high school senior, Peavey will be eligible for the draft again in 2009 as a college sophomore—and he’ll have a chance to get bigger and stronger by then. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound righthander worked mostly as a closer this summer for Corvallis, going 0-1, 1.31 with three saves and 19 strikeouts in 21 innings. His lack of a changeup makes him well-suited to continue in that role at Oregon State. Peavey improved the velocity on his fastball slightly during the summer to 90-91 mph, touching 93, and showed better command of the pitch. His power breaking ball, an 81-84 mph slider, was an effective pitch as well and showed unusually good tilt with two strikes.

#3, Kevin Castner, RHP, Corvallis Knights (Cal Poly SLO)
SCOUTING REPORT: Castner has an extremely live arm with a fastball that is steadily in the 93-96 mph range and will touch 97. Unfortunately, hitters often can sit dead-red on the pitch as he has little or no command of his power slider, or anything off-speed. Castner has a lot of catching up to do as he was primarily a position player in high school, missed his freshman year at Cal Poly because of a shoulder injury and worked only seven innings in the spring due to inconsistent performance. He went 0-0, 15.43 with 23 base runners (15 hits, eight walks) in just seven innings at Cal Poly. He has work to do in repeating his delivery and cleaning up his mechanics. He also needs to learn how to pitch, to not fall in love with the radar gun and instead use a two-seam fastball to induce ground-ball outs. He could emerge as a significant power closer if it all comes together for him.

#4, Mike Koons, RHP, Corvallis Knights (Signed with Houston)
SCOUTING REPORT: Koons was a candidate to be drafted in the first 10 rounds this year after going 3-2, 3.98 with 35 strikeouts in 52 innings in a middle-relief role at San Diego State, but he reportedly set too high a price tag for his services and went undrafted. Nevertheless, he was signed as a free agent by the Houston Astros about midway through the WCCL season after going 3-1, 1.33 with two saves in 27 innings for the Knights. He was signed by Astros area scout Paul Gale, whose son Rocky is a catcher at University of Portland and was a teammate of Koons’ this summer for Corvallis. Even though Koons has a herky-jerky delivery with a pronounced head tilt, he generally threw strikes with three pitches: a sinking 90-92 mph fastball, slider and changeup.

#5, James Paxton, LHP, Kelowna Falcons (Kentucky)
SCOUTING REPORT: A Ladner, British Columbia, product, Paxton returned to his B.C. roots as a starting pitcher and topped the WCCL with 62 strikeouts in a league-high 70 innings, while going 3-5, 2.94. He spent his freshman year at Kentucky as a lefty specialist, going just 2-0, 6.62 with 16 walks and 10 strikeouts in 18 innings. Paxton still needs to learn the finer points of pitching, but he has a low-effort delivery with a fastball in the high 80s that he can command in the lower half of the strike zone. His changeup is also an effective pitch, but he struggles to repeat his breaking stuff.

#6, Blake Keitzman, LHP, Corvallis Knights (Oregon State)
SCOUTING REPORT: Keitzman worked as a lefthanded specialist for OSU’s 2007 national championship team, going 1-0, 4.40 with 25 strikeouts in 31 innings. He could factor into a more prominent role as a sophomore on a staff that was significantly impacted by the draft. He was used as a starter this summer at Corvallis, going 3-0, 1.37 with 26 strikeouts in 26 innings, and could emerge as OSU’s Saturday or Sunday starter in 2008. Despite his small frame, Keitzman is athletic, has a fast arm and works aggressively. He can throw three pitches for strikes, including an 88-90 mph fastball and a power breaking ball.

#7, Paul Applebee, LHP, Bellingham Bells (UC Riverside)
SCOUTING REPORT: Applebee is not flashy or overly physical, but he went 4-1 with a league-best 0.60 ERA to earn league pitcher of the year honors. His fastball was generally 86-88 mph, but it also ranged anywhere from 82-89 with good sinking action. He also showed good feel for a breaking ball and changeup. He has a fluid arm action, but a slight pause in his delivery creates good deception. Applebee worked in only three games as a freshman on a strong UC Riverside pitching staff, going 0-0, 20.25, but his summer performance should thrust him into a more meaningful role in 2008.

#8, Marc Grifantini, RHP, Bend Elks (UC Davis)
SCOUTING REPORT: Grifantini was one of the league’s older pitchers, but had one of the fresher arms as he underwent Tommy John surgery while at Feather River (Calif.) JC and got put on the back burner during the spring at UC Davis, working just 14 innings while going 0-1, 8.36. Bend envisioned using him in relief during the summer because of his lack of established success, but ended up moving him to the rotation when he showed starter-quality stuff – a three-pitch mix that included a steady 90-94 mph fastball that topped at 95. On the season, he went 3-2, 2.75 with three saves. His delivery is a little mechanical, but he has excellent arm speed and the ball explodes out of his hand.

#9, Mark Samuelson, 1B, Corvallis Knights (UC Riverside)
SCOUTING REPORT: Samuelson juggled his summer schedule, going back and forth between Corvallis and UC Riverside to attend summer school, and got in only 25 at-bats for the Knights. But the 6-foot-5, 230-pound slugger hit .440 and showed his rare ability to put a charge in a ball to all fields by homering four times. His power grades out as a 60 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. He’s an adequate defender at first base; he’s athletic enough, and his hands and feet play well enough around the bag. Samuelson hit .285-7-50 as a freshman at UC Riverside and will be eligible for the draft in 2008 as a sophomore.

#10, Kyle Howe, RHP, Kitsap BlueJackets (University of Nevada, Reno)
SCOUTING REPORT: Howe has shown promise as a pitcher since he was drafted in the 14th round by the Kansas City Royals out of a Washington high school in 2004, even as he missed his senior year with an arm injury. A three-year Kitsap veteran, he had an all-star summer in the WCCL by going 5-2, .2.24 with 39 strikeouts in 60 innings. As a junior at Nevada, he was 4-3, 4.84 with 52 strikeouts in 71 innings. Despite his impressive size, Howe throws only in the 84-87 mph range and touches 90. His mechanics aren’t especially pretty either, but he understands how to set up hitters and keep them off balance with a four-pitch mix, including an excellent slider.

#11, Matt Way, LHP, Corvallis Knights (Washington State)
SCOUTING REPORT: Way, an Alaska high school product, put together an all-star season for the Knights, going 4-1, 2.93 with 42 strikeouts in 46 innings. He worked in the upper 80s with his fastball, and touched 90-91 mph. He had a good changeup while his breaking ball was inconsistent. With a low three-quarters arm slot and some funkiness in his delivery, he was able to hide his pitches well.

#12, Stephen Fife, RHP, Bellingham Bells (Utah)
SCOUTING REPORT: Fife is an Idaho high school product who attended Everett (Wash.) JC for a year before transferring to Utah, where he went 6-2, 4.43 with 53 strikeouts in 63 innings as a sophomore. He had a solid summer season for Bellingham, going 3-0, 1.59 with 30 strikeouts in 34 innings. Fife’s fastball was a consistent 89-90 mph, and peaked at 91. He also had good depth and rotation on a 12-to-6 curveball and feel for a changeup. He tends to overstride a little and scouts think he might reach 94 mph if he can tighten up his delivery.

#13, Dillon Baird, 1B, Wenatchee AppleSox (Arizona)
SCOUTING REPORT: Baird, who led the wood-bat Arizona junior college ranks with 10 homers in the spring and won the WCCL Home Run Derby, has excellent power potential to all fields. He has a good, balanced approach at the plate with a nice short stroke, but has a tendency at times to be a dead pull hitter, hooking everything on the outer third of the plate. By bulking up in the last year but adding strength in the process, Baird played himself off shortstop initially and most recently off third base. He is considered only a first baseman now. While he lacks quick feet at the position, he has good hands around the bag. An unsigned 25th-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2006 and 48th-rounder of the Texas Rangers in June, Baird was eligible to transfer to a four-year school after only a year in junior college and will play at Arizona this year.

#14, Koa Kahalehoe, OF, Bend Elks (Oregon State)
SCOUTING REPORT: Kahalehoe was the closest thing in the league to a five-tool talent – though his raw ability was more likely to show through in a workout environment than in game situations. He runs especially well and has excellent hands to hit at the plate. He responded with a .305-3-15 summer after batting just .244-0-9 in 78 at-bats as a part-time outfielder for the reigning College World Series champions. Scouts say Kahalehoe has the potential to become another Jacoby Ellsbury, the former Oregon State first-rounder now with the Boston Red Sox, if it all comes together for him in 2008.

#15, Ross Humes, LHP, Kitsap BlueJackets (Washington State)
SCOUTING REPORT: After setting a Washington State school record for saves in a season (12) in the spring, Humes was forced to attend summer school and didn’t make his first appearance with the BlueJackets until nearly the end of July. He went 0-1, 1.64 in three appearances (two starts), going 0-1, 1.64 and striking out 12 in 11 innings. Humes has four different pitches he can throw from three different arm angles – effectively giving hitters 12 different looks. He can come from high three-quarters, to sidearm, to submarine with a fastball between 88 and 91 mph, a curve, slider and changeup – and even a knuckleball on occasion. He has good control of all his mainstream pitches, except his curve. Humes has an extremely loose arm and can be used in any role, but may be better suited to close in the future as his arm bounces back quickly.

#16, Jim Murphy, 1B, Corvallis Knights (Washington State)
SCOUTING REPORT: The powerful Murphy tore up the New England Collegiate League last summer (.358-9-40) and had expectations of being a solid mid-round draft pick in June. But he had a very disappointing junior season for the Cougars, hitting just .220-3-23, and wasn’t drafted. He made amends this summer with an all-star season in the WCCL, hitting .319 with a league high four homers – and proved, if nothing else, that he has more success swinging a wood bat than aluminum. He could be a solid senior sign in 2008 if he can keep his game on track. He can put a charge in a fastball, but struggles hitting a breaking pitch, particularly a slider. Despite his size, Murphy is surprisingly agile at first base and moves well on the bases.

#17, Dan Wolford, RHP, Moses Lake Pirates (Cal)
SCOUTING REPORT: Wolford was dominant in his role as an all-star closer for the league champion Pirates, going 2-0, 1.27 with a league-high 11 saves in 18 appearances. In 21 innings, he allowed just 11 hits while striking out 39. Wolford dominated hitters with a 90-94 mph fastball with good arm-side run and an explosive hammer curveball with a sharp 12-to-6 break. He was able to throw both pitches, along with a developing changeup, with pinpoint command from the same arm slot. The knock on Wolford is his non-projectable body. He’s a six-footer with a bigger lower half and narrow shoulders. Wolford did not pitch last spring at Long Beach State and will move on to Cal after obtaining his release from the Dirtbags.

#18, Marcus Tackett, SS/RHP, Moses Lake Pirates (Texas)
SCOUTING REPORT: Tackett didn’t overly distinguish himself as a two-way player during the regular season for the Pirates, hitting .252-0-9 while going 0-1, 2.59 with 31 strikeouts in 24 innings in a set-up role. But he was money in the playoffs as his two-run double in the eighth inning enabled Moses Lake pull out a critical 4-3, must-win game in the first round against Wenatchee; he then stepped into a starting role in the first game of the finals against Corvallis, working seven innings in a 3-2 win to bale out a depleted starting staff. One of the best athletes in the WCCL, Tackett has excellent middle infield actions, quick hands to hit and an 87-92 mph fastball to go with a slider and changeup. After red-shirting at Oral Roberts in 2006 while on the mend from a broken leg, and then playing a secondary role as a red-shirt freshman in the spring (.231-1-7; 3-2, 4.56 in 49 innings), he has transferred to Texas for the 2008 season.

#19, J.R. Murphy, RHP, Corvallis Knights (San Diego State)
SCOUTING REPORT: Murphy had his elbow scoped last winter at San Diego State and was never 100 percent healthy at any point during the 2007 season for the Aztecs, resulting in just a 2-0, 5.40 record in 22 innings spread over 13 appearances. He was much sharper this summer in an all-star season for the Knights, going 2-1, 1.14 as a starter with 42 strikeouts in 47 innings. His slider and changeup were solid pitches; his fastball was also effective at 88-91 mph, but his velocity still had not returned to maximum efficiency. Murphy will be a senior at San Diego State in 2008 and could move considerably up draft boards once he regains his full arm strength.

#20, Drew George, 3B, Bend Elks (Oregon State)
SCOUTING REPORT: George played a minor role in Oregon State’s run to a second straight national title in 2007, hitting .259-1-16 while seeing significant time at third base. But he made headway this summer towards becoming a more significant contributor as a senior. He hit .326-1-14 and showed vast improvement defensively. He already had a well above-average arm from the left side. A switch-hitter, he shows better raw power from the left side, but better contact with more gap-to-gap power from the right.

#21, Dale Reneau, RHP, Moses Lake Pirates (Oral Roberts)
SCOUTING REPORT: Reneau has spent the bulk of his college career in a relief role, including a non-descript 0-0, 4.35 junior season for Oral Roberts and an eight-save campaign for the Pirates in 2006. But he may have kick-started his career as a starter this summer, going 5-2, 1.40 with 62 strikeouts and only 12 walks in 58 innings. He tied for the league lead in wins and strikeouts. Though his body may be more befitting a linebacker than a pitcher, Reneau displayed great mound presence with a fastball at a steady 89-91 mph and a plus slider.

#22, Kevin Coddington, C, Moses Lake Pirates (Illinois-Chicago)
SCOUTING REPORT: At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Coddington has a big frame for a catcher. But he receives and blocks well for his size and stopped the running game this summer with a quick release that yielded consistent 1.85 to 1.9 pop times. He also hit well early in the season in the No. 4 hole in the Moses Lake lineup, but the rigors of catching everyday took a toll on his hitting in the second half and he finished the year at .261-0-17. Most of his power was to the gaps.

#23, Hawkins Gebbers, 3B, Wenatchee Applesox (Biola University)
SCOUTING REPORT: Gebbers is the fourth of four brothers to play baseball through the years for Wenatchee, and Gebbers’ father Mac is one of the top hitters in Gonzaga’s baseball history and has his number retired by the Zags. Gebbers’ best tool, appropriately, is his bat. He hit .311-9-43 as a sophomore at Biola, and followed up by hitting .328-0-14 for Wenatchee. He was selected the WCCBL’s all-star third baseman. His power is considered marginal, but he showed significant improvement defensively from his first season at Wenatchee.

#24, Kraig Sitton, LHP, Spokane Riverhawks (Oregon State)
SCOUTING REPORT: Sitton did not play at all in the spring as a freshman on Oregon State’s national championship team as Beavers coaches wanted him to build up strength in his tall, lean frame. But he made significant strides towards becoming an eventual starter at Oregon State by going 1-2, 3.49 with 44 strikeouts in 39 innings for Spokane as a part-time starter. Sitton, whose second cousin Charlie Sitton is a former Oregon State All-American basketball player and NBA player, has average current stuff but needs to develop better command of it.

#25, Michael Ratigan, RHP, Moses Lake Pirates (Washington State)
SCOUTING REPORT: The third Washington State pitcher on this list, Ratigan went 3-2, 3.00 with 11 walks and 41 strikeouts in 54 innings for the WCCL champion Pirates. He also saw significant time at first base, hitting .288-0-9 in 73 at-bats. But scouts say his upside is on the mound – and he brings versatility there, too, as he is capable of both starting and relieving. His fastball ranges from 87-91 mph, touching 92, with good movement. He also has a sharp slider, a good curveball and a developing changeup.