Utah Scout Blog: CSN Scout Day

Jeff Scholzen
Utah Scouting Director

Southern Nevada Athletics Suspends Activities - College of Southern Nevada  Athletics

Today we take a look at one of the most successful JUCO programs in the country, the College of Southern Nevada (CSN). I was able to watch, film and evaluate CSN at their “Scout Day” at Las Vegas Ballpark, which was put together by Brett Harrison, the PBR Nevada Scouting Director, as the state of Nevada isn’t allowing scouts and spectators on the CSN campus for the time being, due to the CoVid pandemic. CSN has been a perennial JC powerhouse since their program's inception in 2000. As most baseball fans know, CSN is famous for the school that MLB superstar and local Las Vegas player, Bryce Harper attended. Harper was the #1 overall pick in the 2010 MLB First Year Player Draft, by the Washington Nationals. Bryce has gone on to be a Rookie of the Year and NL MVP, but there are many more MLB players that have donned the black and gold from the Henderson, NV based program. 

CSN won the 2003 NJCAA D1 National Championship in just their 4th year of existence. But it was their 2010 squad that captured national attention, as they ventured to Grand Junction, CO with Harper, who would go on to win the Golden Spikes Award that year, the baseball version of the Heisman Trophy. The recipient of the Golden Spikes, goes to the top amateur baseball player in the country. However that team was much more than just Harper, but his presence and production propelled the Coyotes that year. Two other CSN players made their names known on that team, and reached the big leagues, with LHP Chasen Shreve and RHP Donn Roach (signed by yours truly with the Angels). Both pitchers are also from the Las Vegas area and have pitched for various MLB teams this past decade. Other players to play in the big leagues from CSN were: INF Sean Kazmar, LHP Mike Dunn (now an Asst Coach at CSN) and RHP Jordan Smith. These 3 in addition to the others mentioned, make it 6 players to reach the big leagues in the program's 21 year history, that’s an MLB player every 3.5 years. All of this was under the tutelage of former CSN Skipper, Tim Chambers who would sadly pass away in the fall of 2019. Tim produced the 6 players during his time at the helm of the Coyotes program from 2000-2010, before taking his success across town to UNLV. 

The program has been under the guidance of another highly successful baseball man, in former Green Valley head coach and now in his 11 year, Nick Garritano. Coach Garritano has also guided the Coyotes to a JUCO World Series appearance, as well as a 1st Rd pick, in RHP Phil Bickford (MiLB prospect with the Brewers). The Coyotes are a breeding ground, not only for professional players, but Division 1 players even more so. CSN has sent 114 players onto four year programs, averaging 11 players a year! CSN plays in one of the nicest venues for JC Baseball in the country and hosts 3 late January, early February pre-season tournaments, bringing in schools from around the country, as well as Canada. With most schools under snow that time of year, CSN has warm weather, although the early season night games feature personal heaters placed throughout the park, by fans and scouts alike. I was one of the original heater scouts, and made quite a few friends as one could imagine!

The CSN Scout Day featured 5 position players and 5 pitchers, who will be tracked by area scouts, cross checkers and in the case of a few, up the chain of command to Scouting Directors this next spring. Below are a few that will garner further attention, leading up to next July's Draft. 

2021 Draft - Jacob Godman, C, R-R, SO, College of Southern Nevada 

Godman transferred from local UNLV to CSN for the 2021 season. A well built 6-2 200 RHH catcher with all the tools to catch at the next level, he showed a solid setup to catch with a wide base and a high backside to move and slide side-side to receive. He features soft quiet hands to stick pitches and his head is still. His quick lower ½ and plus feet, coupled with a plus exchange, allows for proper throwing mechanics, in getting off abv avg times to 2B (1.87-1.95 pop times), while showing a 60 arm. His throws were through the bag and on the money! The offense is less than what’s needed for the position, as he shows an even prop semi crouched square stance in his setup and gets to separation, while whistling the bat through the zone w/98 MPH exit velos. The question will be with limited playing time at UNLV (4 AB’s) his ability to hit will be monitored in ‘21. A fresh start and in an everyday role, he will get those AB’s and get his feet under him. There’s no question about the receiving ability, the body, arm strength and the quickness of his release to control the running game. The defensive part of the equation is strong and a team looking for a premium defender should take this kid, because the defense will carry to the games highest level.  

2021 Draft - Dax Fellows, SS/UTL, R-R, R-SO, College of Southern Nevada

A product of Silverado HS in Las Vegas, and played for one of the legends of Nevada, Brian Whitaker, who won 565 games as the 2nd winnest coach in state history. Fellows is an athletic tightly wound 5-11 185 streamlined UTL player, with versatility to play at 3 INF spots, and is adding the OF to his game. A .417 hitter with 13-15 SB’s as a true freshman in 2019, playing the MIF and made an impact right away. The overall game isn’t toolsy, but He’s a baseball player! Features a semi spread open stance w/his hands waggling over his back shoulder for rhythm and timing. Gets to the launch position as he lifts his foot to land soft on his toe and squared up with his lower ½, in putting together a short direct compact stroke with a fluid efficient pass at the baseball. Whips the bat into a full two hand finish and repeats his swing. From SS, he showed smooth actions with educated feet and moved athletically with solid actions to field out front and playing through the ball. His throws were clean and online, showing easy avg to solid avg arm strength. An avg runner, who can steal bases and plays the game the right way. Look for a big year from this kid come spring.  

2021 Draft - Damiano Palmegiani, 3B/UTL, R-R, SO, College of Southern Nevada 

A D1 transfer from Cal State Northridge, but way of Surrey, BC. At 6-1 195, this kid is strong with twitch and built for the next level. Offensively he showed some of the best bat speed at scout day, with a slight rock back of the hands to load from below his back shoulder. The hands come back as he takes a short soft stride and at foot strike, whistles the bat through the zone with abv avg hand speed, and makes loud contact, resulting in 109 MPH exit velos. Made consistent passes at the ball and repeated his stroke with efficiency. Impressive hitter that with a big spring, will capture attention. Defensively he is a 3B’man and took GB’s at SS, showing actions w/smooth transfers and a solid avg online arm. His throws have carry with something on them. The bat is a tool to carry and I would expect him to be a run producer this next spring. 

2021 Draft - Kris Bow, RHP, SO, College of Southern Nevada 

A local product out of Centennial HS and has committed to the U of Arizona. He came into CSN touching 91-92 and has filled out physically at 6-4 225. He has seen his velocity jump over the past year and will garner a lot of attention from the scouting community. The delivery is clean and repeats. Shows a simple NWU high kick with his hands set at the belt, and lifts his hands and leg in a synced up fashion. Drives down into his lower ½, and his arm is up and into the power position at foot strike. There is some added polish and ease to his operation. The FB 92-96 has a late giddy up and the ball jumps from his hand. The SL 80-82 has late TQ tilt with late biting depth and will become an avg pitch to go along with the plus FB. The CH 85 shows feel and with the ease to his stuff, coupled with a 3 pitch mix, he shows starter tendencies and will be looked upon to provide length and big innings come next spring. 

2021 Draft - Johnny Cuevas, RHP, R-SO, College of Southern Nevada 

Cuevas came to CSN as a two way player and may still provide that, however with a deep staff and hitters to carry the load, I see pitching only with him moving forward. A former late round Brewers draft out of a SoCal HS in 2018, Johnny pitched in the mid to upper 80’s and was 6-1 185  when he arrived. Now 603 200, his velo as he has filled out and grown, has steadily ticked up to 93, with some 94’s early last spring. The delivery is clean and he repeats. Carries his hands at the chest, and gives a simple turn to pivot and lifts to a flexible abdomen high kick and drives into his legs and uses the slope of the mound, in getting downhill to drive the FB down in the zone. The arm stroke is clean and works properly. Features a FB 90-93 T94 with some straight 4 seam life. The CB 80-81 has top to bottom tight spinning depth with late bite when right. The CH 83-84 has abv feel to land and sinks below bats for steady GB’s. Reminds of former MLB RHP-Kyle Lohse and shows polish and could move quick thru a system. 

2021 Draft - Josh Swales, RHP, FR, College of Southern Nevada

Swales had originally signed with the U of Arizona and with the backlog of rosters at D1 programs, due to eligibility being restored throughout the country, he decided to take his arm to CSN and get quality inns against wood bats at the JC level. A tightly wound 6-2 195 with a prototype pro body, the delivery is sound, with his hands and knee lift carried up top and syncs his lower ½ when right. Some tall and fall type finish, that with better use of his lower ½, 100 MPH is in reach for him, as he continues to fill and mature. The arm works properly and the FB 94-96 comes out clean with EZ gas. Looks as if he’s just playing catch. The CB 79-83 has top to bottom tight spinning depth and bites through the zone for a potential 60 offering. The CH 83-86 has feel, yet just needs to refine and use more, as most pitchers his age do, as his FB/CB combo can wipe hitters out at his current and past levels of play. Look for big area scout/cross checking interest, as well as higher ups in the scouting community to watch intently come spring, as his arsenal has a chance to be 1st day or early 2nd day draft type consideration.