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 mini-scouting reports on all Group 1 and 2 players.
Nebraska State-by-State List
New CWS Facility,
Other Off-Field News Trump Short List of Draft Prospects
Nebraska has become used
to seeing more baseball news generated off the field during the
spring, and 2011 is certainly no exception.
The most notable event,
and one of national importance in the baseball world, was the opening of TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha. As the successor to outdated
Rosenblatt Stadium, it will serve as the new site of the College
World Series for at least the next 25 years, and enable “Omaha”
to remain synonymous with success in college baseball.
The new facility, which
debuted April 19 with Creighton hosting Nebraska before more than
22,000 fans, has received very favorable reviews, although many
regret that old, venerable Rosenblatt was condemned to the wrecking
ball and the land sold to the Omaha Zoo. TD Ameritrade has every
amenity one could imagine in a modern ballpark, from locker rooms to
luxury boxes, and could easily pass for a new-age major-league
ballpark with the addition of 15-20,000 more seats.
TD Ameritrade hosted the
Missouri Valley Conference tournament from May 24-27, with Creighton
serving as the host school, and it served as a dress rehearsal for
the 2011 College World Series, which begins June 18.
The second piece of major
off-the-field news was the May 23 firing of Nebraska head
coach Mike Anderson after nine years at the helm. The Cornhuskers,
who reached the CWS in 2005 for the third time in five years with a
57-15 record, had fallen on hard times in recent years under
Anderson, failing to reach the Big 12 Conference tournament in each
of the past three years. They finished the 2011 season with a 30-25
record overall, but only 9-17 in conference play.
While early talk about
Anderson’s successor centered on some very well-known coaches
around the country, the reality is that all of Nebraska’s sports
teams will be moving from the Big 12 to the Big Ten Conference in
2012. For baseball, it will mean taking an unavoidable step down in
competition as the Big Ten, with all its teams in northern climates,
is not as strong as the Big 12, where the concentration of power is
in Texas and Oklahoma.
While Nebraska was able
to recruit extensively in the southern tier of the country, due to
the geographic concentration of Big 12 teams in the area, that
possibility is less likely now with Nebraska scheduled to play the
likes of Iowa, Northwestern and Penn State.
Despite its disappointing
2011 season, Nebraska should still produce the top draft pick in the
state in third baseman Cody Asche, who hit .327-12-56 and solidified
his position in the top three rounds with his easy transition to the
new composite bats used this season in college baseball. There are
questions still, though, whether he has the lateral range to play
third base in the future.
The big winner in all of
the 2011 machinations that have impacted baseball in the state
clearly appears to be the Creighton Blue Jays.
Initially, Creighton was
not scheduled to use TD Ameritrade as its home ball park, even though
the school and new facility are located within a half mile of one
another and Creighton’s on-campus field is well below normal
Division I standards. Behind the scenes negotiations resolved the
issue, however, and the Blue Jays will now play in one of the top
venues in the country, which should be a boon to recruiting.
Attendance for a handful of Creighton home games in late April and
May was far in excess of games played at that time of year in the
On the field, the current
season has been just as successful for Creighton, although it did
lose two of its three games against in-state rival Nebraska.
Creighton entered the MVC tournament at 42-14, and even if it doesn’t
win the event it is almost assured of receiving an NCAA tournament
berth because of a favorable RPI ranking.
prospect is sophomore lefthander Ty Blach (10-2, 2.83), who has a
fair chance to go in the top five rounds of the 2012 draft because of
an 88-92 mph fastball and sharp slider. The team’s best prospects
for this year, meanwhile, are two seniors, outfielder Trever Adams
and righthander Jonas Dufek, who were instrumental in the team’s
2011 success. Adams (.395-14-55) led Creighton in virtually every
offensive category, while Dufek posted a 10-1, 2.23 record and struck
out 113 in 101 innings.
Creighton and Nebraska
have historically been Nebraska’s only Division I programs, but
will soon be joined by a third D-I program, Nebraska-Omaha. The
Mavericks have been a national factor in Division I hockey for years,
but participated at the Division II level in other sports. The
baseball team, which has been consistently competitive under former
Kansas City Royals minor-league coach Bob Herold, will become part of
the Summit League.
The 2010 draft
represented the first time in recent memory that a Nebraska
high-school player was a factor. Nebraska City High lefthander Logan
Ehlers was taken in the eighth round by the Toronto Blue Jays and
turned down a reported bonus offer of $800,000 to honor his
scholarship with Nebraska. Ehlers created his own national news this
spring, when he was suspended for 60 percent of the 2011 season for
NCAA violations relating to his negotiations with the Blue Jays. He
was inconsistent after returning to action, posting a 1-3, 4.30
record in 29 innings.
The Nebraska high-school
ranks are pretty much back to normal this year as no Nebraska high
schooler is a sure thing to even be drafted. Righthander A.J. Ladwig
from state-runner-up Millard West High is given the best chance of
being selected as he has a projectable 6-foot-4 frame with an
upper-80s fastball. Ladwig is one of three players from the state
with scholarships to Wichita State.
Nebraska in a
Asche, Creighton seniors.
(1-to-5 scale): 2.
BEST COLLEGE TEAM:
TEAM: Western Nebraska.
BEST HIGH-SCHOOL TEAM:
Papillion La Vista South HS, Omaha.
PROSPECT ON THE RISE:
Cody Asche, 3b, University of Nebraska. Asche has high-level
hitting tools from the left side and projects plus power. There are
questions, though, about his long-term future at third base stemming
from his lack of lateral quickness around the bag.
PROSPECT ON THE
DECLINE: Joe Holtmeyer, rhp, University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Holtmeyer was the NCAA Division II strikeout leader in 2010, and a
projected top-5 round pick coming into the spring. His mechanics and
raw stuff were not nearly as good, though, and his performance (8-2,
4.56) predictably suffered.
WILD CARD: Khiry
Cooper, of, University of Nebraska. A fifth-round draft pick of
the Los Angeles Angels in 2008 out of a Louisiana high school, Cooper
has played both baseball and football (wide receiver) at Nebraska.
While scouts appreciate Cooper’s speed and athleticism, he has
shown little progress with the bat (.260-0-12) in three years of
PROSPECT, Nebraska Connection: T.J. Walz, rhp, University of
Kansas (Attended high school in Omaha).
TOP 2012 PROSPECT:
Ty Blach, lhp, Creighton University.
TOP 2013 PROSPECT:
Logan Ehlers, lhp, University of Nebraska.
HIGHEST DRAFT PICKS
Darin Erstad, of, U. of Nebraska (1995, Angels/1st round,
2006 Draft: Joba
Chamberlain, rhp, U. of Nebraska (Yankees/1st round, 41st pick).
2007 Draft: Drew
Bowman, lhp, U. of Nebraska (Reds/5th round).
2008 Draft: Aaron
Pribanic, rhp, U. of Nebraska (Mariners/3rd round).
2009 Draft: Mike
Nesseth, rhp, U. of Nebraska (Angels/15th round).
2010 Draft: Michael
Mariot, rhp, U. of Nebraska (Royals/8th round).
TOP PROSPECTS, GROUPS
ONE and TWO
ONE (Projected ELITE-Round Draft / Rounds 1-3)
CODY ASCHE, 3b, University of Nebraska (Jr.)
build (6-2/200), + LH bat (.327-12-56), + bat speed/lift in swing, +
arm at 3B, lacks lateral quickness.
TWO (Projected HIGH-Round Draft /
2. TREVER ADAMS, of,
Creighton University (Sr.)
Ex-JC transfer; 2011
season (.356-12-58) a duplicate of 2010, + bat speed, solid run/throw
tools for SR sign.
3. JONAS DUFEK, rhp,
Creighton University (Sr.)
6-5/210 workhorse; 22-11
as 3-year starter; stuff gradually improved, FB now 88-92, flashes +
SL, good CH.