November 20, 2008

Breaking down UT's baseball class

After a down year talent in talent across the state of Texas in 2008, this group of 2009 seniors is shaping up to be one of the very best this state has seen in a long time. That's good news for Longhorn fans because it should come as no surprise that the Texas coaching staff was able to get a few of these stars to sign on the dotted line this week, as November 12th marked the first day of the early signing period. Although the Horns have a relatively small class at this point it certainly doesn't lack in star power. Here is a look at the seven players who signed letters of intent to play under head coach Augie Garrido.

Colton Cain - LHP/1B - Waxahachie, Texas (Waxahacie)

Accolades - Rated as the No. 81 overall prospect by Baseball America and No. 44 high school prospect, No. 41 prospect by Keith Law of ESPN, member of the 2008 18U USA National Team, participated in the prestigious Area Codes Games, rated as a top ten hitting prospect at the Area Codes Games, 15-4A pitcher of the year, first team All-District and was a member of the All-State tournament team.

Cain hit .486 with nine homers and 45 RBI. On the mound he put together a 12-1 record with a 0.76 ERA and 131 strikeouts in 81 innings.

Scouting report - Travel down to Waxahacie and you will find yourself a true two-way standout. If you forced the Texas coaching staff to pick one guy from this list, the odds are it would be Cain. His stock is definitely on the rise right now. At a recent scouting event the left-hander was reportedly clocked at 92 miles per hour, and wowed scouts with his power at the plate. His fastball could develop into a plus pitch, and lefties with his kind of velocity are treasured. However, many people feel he could make a more immediate impact at first base because of his power to all fields. Cain is the type of player that could certainly contribute during his freshman season.

Possibility of going pro - It really depends on who you talk to, but one thing they can all agree on is that his stock is up right now, and will continue to be that way. Around Austin they feel like they can get Cain on campus, but those in the scouting and talent business feel at this stage it's going to be hard for him to make major league baseball wait. This one is going to bounce back and forth some, but the Texas coaches are going to do their absolute best to get him on the 40 acres.

Jacob Cowan - RHP - Roswell, Georgia (San Jacinto Junior College)

Accolades - Selected in the 14th round out of high school by the Boston Red Sox, named first team All-Southeast and second team All-America by Perfect Game in 2007, rated as the No. 60 prospect out of high school by Perfect Game and was an All-State selection as a senior.

At Virginia last season, the righty had a 2-1 record in 32.1 innings with a 3.34 ERA and 28 strikeouts. The opposition hit just .220 against the Georgia native.

Scouting report - A hard throwing right-hander that projects as a weekend starter. He has the stuff and the makeup to push for a weekend spot as soon as he steps on campus. Cowan mixes speeds well and can command both sides of the plate.

Possibility of going pro - He's a junior college player, so there is definitely the possibility of going pro. Throw in that he was drafted out of high school, and it's certainly realistic. A lot will depend on what kind of season Cowan has at San Jacinto, and where he was selected. If the money isn't right and he sees a possibly rotation spot in Austin waiting for him; then you probably see him spend a season at Texas before heading to the pros.

Holby Milner - LHP - Crowley, Texas (Paschal)

Accolades - Louisville Slugger high school All-American, 5A honorable mention All-State and Co-MVP of District 4-5A

In 2008, the lefty recorded a 0.77 ERA with 97 strikeouts and a 6-1 record.

Scouting report - A smooth operator on the mound with a low 90s fastball that is commanded very well. Milner is one of those guys that oozes with potential, and is just beginning to scratch the surface. With his ability to command the fastball he could be an impact lefty on the mound in his freshman season. If he is able to develop a strong, above-average breaking pitch watch out.

Possibility of going pro - I feel like Milner is probably underrated at this point, and he could see his stock take off eventually. As for right now though, Texas fans should feel confident they will eventually see Milner in burnt orange.

Keifer Nuncio - RHP - Katy, Texas (Katy)

Accolades - Rated as the No. 75 high school prospect by Baseball America, named a top ten pitching prospect by Baseball America at the Perfect Game National Showcase, participated in the prestigious Area Codes Games in both 2007 and 2008, member of the Texas Scouts Association team at the Wood Bat Championship in 2008 and was named 18-5A first team All-District.

Katy's ace right-hander went 6-3 last season with a 1.47 ERA and three saves.

Scouting report - Nuncio is a intense competitor on the mound with a quality sinking fastball that sits around 90 miles per hour. His slider serves as a good strike out pitch right now, and is probably rated as above-average. Scouts really like how he projects because of a quality changeup that he adds to the sinker and the slider. If you're naming top right-handers in the state Nuncio is going to be one of the first ones mentioned.

Possibility of going pro - The right-hander is already on scout's radars, and will probably entertain the thought of playing minor league baseball. However, it seems like college is a much more likely destination at this point, and signability concerns might cause his draft stock to slip.

Josh Urban - RHP - Dripping Springs, Texas (Dripping Springs)

Accolades - Invited to participate in the Perfect Game WWBA World Championship and was 25-4A first team All-District

Urban logged a 1.40 ERA in 60 innings, going 6-4 with 98 strikeouts and one save. At the plate he hit .363 with two homers and 20 RBI.

Scouting report - You can think of Urban as a pitcher in the similar mold of current Longhorn Brandon Workman. The local product is already 6-foot-5 and has the tools to develop into a power right-hander on the mound. He isn't as polished, and doesn't have the stuff Workman had at this stage, but the future is a bright one. Urban is going to need some time to fine tune some things at the next level, but he could develop into a quality starter with some division one instruction.

Possibility of going pro - Scouts like his build and velocity, but he's far from a finished product at this point. You should expect to see Urban on the Texas campus.

Cohl Walla - RHP/OF - Austin, Texas (Lake Travis)

Accolades - Rated as the No. 45 prospect by Keith Law of ESPN, participated in the prestigious Area Codes Games, tabbed one of the ten best hitting prospects at the Area Codes Games and was named 25-4A first team All-District.

The rangy outfielder hit .369 with four homeruns and 27 RBI.

Scouting report - Walla is one of those outfielders that possess all the tools. The local product was blessed with a boatload of athleticism, and even though Garrett Gilbert has again put up gaudy stats the five-star signal caller is missing one of his wideouts from last year's state title team-Cohl Walla. You have to include him as one of the ten best hitters in the state. Walla has legit speed on the base paths, developing power at the plate, and solid mechanics with the bat in his hand. Could he possibly be a center fielder down the line? Maybe. Like Cain, Walla could also make an impact on the mound at the college level. His immediate future is in the outfield, but he has the arm strength and makeup on the mound to possibly develop into a starting pitcher.

Jonathan Walsh - C - Coppell, Texas (Coppell)

Accolades - Rated as the No. 66 overall prospect by Baseball America and No. 34 high school prospect, rated as the No. 25 prospect by Keith Law of ESPN, selected as an Under Armour All-American, selected as a AFLAC All-American, participated in the prestigious Area Codes Games and was named 6-5A first team All-District.

In 2008 the switch hitting catcher batted .390 with three homers and 30 RBI.

Scouting report - Viewed by some as the state's top prospect, Walsh is a rare breed at catcher. He's got tremendous power from both sides of the plate, and moves very well behind the dish. The Coppell product is athletic for his size, and has the ability to play multiple positions, but his future in the eyes of scouts is at catcher. Walsh needs to fine tune some things defensively, but he's got pro-ready tools already. He's absolutely a candidate for early playing time as soon as he steps on a college campus.

Possibility of going pro - The general consensus is that Walsh won't last long in the draft. In fact, he very well could be the first high school catcher selected. Switch hitting catchers are extremely rare, and scouts love how advanced he is offensively, and defensively. He needs to show some improvement defensively this season, but the chances are he's going to be offered a significant amount of money. This is one of the guys I could see Texas losing to the major league draft, but it's not a lock at this point.

Jordan Weymouth - SS/2B - Paradise Valley, Arizona (Scottsdale Chaparral )

Accolades - Defensive MVP of the Arizona 4A state title game, and second team Desert Sky All-Region

Weymouth batted .397 with one homer, 26 RBI, 32 runs scored, and eight stolen bases in 2008.

Scouting report - Weymouth is a high energy type of player that could really be a sparkplug at the top of a lineup. He's got the makeup and tools of a top of the order kind of hitter, and has plus speed. His build and power at the plate aren't going to impress a lot of people, but he handles the bat extremely well. Defensively, Weymouth has good baseball instincts and has good range because of his excellent speed.

Possibility of going pro - Scouts realize that he's going to be a big time player when he grows some more, but his draft selection probably won't be near close enough to keep him from going to college. The Arizona product could really benefit from a stint in college.


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