In the first part of our draft series this season I take a look at who I think are currently the top 30 prospects for this year’s draft. Everyone has likely heard of Bryce Harper who is supposed to be the next phenom, but there are also several other very intriguing names in this year’s class. Some are calling it a weak draft due to the lack of impact collegiate position players, but there are some good college pitchers and it is a very strong year for high school arms. There are also some intriguing high school position players who seem to have a few great tools, but question marks surrounding the rest of their games. Look inside for the rankings, a brief scouting report on each player, and some links to videos.
1. Bryce Harper, C, CC of Southern Nevada
He has been called the natural by some and is most likely the #1 prospect in this class when all is said and done. It has been well chronicled how he left high school early to become a member of this class, but I don’t know if he is as big of a slam dunk as Stephen Strasburg or even Justin Upton for that matter. His power is undeniable as he has routinely launched 500 foot homers in batting practice (see YouTube), but there are some questions about how high of an average he will hit for. He is off to a blistering start to his collegiate career and doing it with a wood bat. Some question his size at the catcher position, but that has not slowed down Matt Wieters. He has the tools to stick at catcher with good technique and a strong arm. Overall the package is special when you consider his potential as a run producer and the fact that he plays arguably the most premium position.
2. Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS, TX
In my opinion the main competition for the #1 spot on this list. Taillon is the complete package. He has size (6’7″ 230 pounds), the stuff (fastball up t0 99 mph and potentially 2 plus breaking balls), and great makeup. They don’t make high school pitchers much better than this.
3. Anthony Ranaudo, RHP, LSU
Ranaudo has a huge frame and looks the part of a dominating power pitcher, but he doesn’t really have the stuff to back it up. He has a decent arsenal with a fastball in the 88-92 range and a very good breaker, but he does not project as the top of the rotation starter that you would like at the top of a draft. He has missed some time with a stress reaction in his elbow and needs to come back strong and show he is healthy or his biggest strengths (his track record and the fact that he is considered a fairly safe pick) will go out the window.
4. Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Mississippi
Pomeranz is clearly the best lefty in the draft with a fastball that can reach the mid-90′s on occasion but is usually more around 89-92 mph. He complements it with a very good curveball and a picture perfect 6’5″ 220 pound frame. The questions about work ethic that surrounded his older brother while in the Cardinals system give me some pause as does his delivery, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he is a different man.
5. Karsten Whitson, RHP, Chipley HS, FL
Whitson has a smooth delivery, a projectable frame, and present stuff. He can touch the mid-90′s with his heater and also possesses one of the top breakers in the high school class. Add in a change and good command, and Whitson is a very intriguing choice.
6. AJ Cole, RHP, Oviedo HS, FL
Another projectable high school righty, Cole is very similar to Whitson. He can also crank it up to 95 mph with the heater, has a good breaker in his curveball, and has a surprisingly good change. He may have even more projection that Whitson when he fills out his rail thin frame. I give Whitson the slight edge because I like his delivery better.
7. Manny Machado, SS, Brito HS, FL
Machado is a smooth operator in the field with a strong arm and a solid bat. He projects to hit for pretty good power for a middle infielder, and he is the top high school position player in the draft.
8. Deck McGuire, RHP, Georgia Tech
McGuire has been a stud since the day he stepped foot on campus. He definitely fits the bill from a statistical standpoint, but he does not possess the power arsenal that you would expect from his hulking 6’6″ frame. What he does have is solid command of a great mix of pitches. He may not have the ceiling of some of the high school arms, but he is a pretty sure bet to be a #3 starter some day.
9. Chris Sale, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast
Another top collegiate lefty in this class, Sale is a big workhorse lefty with a fastball in the low to mid 90′s and a devastating change up. There are questions about the level of competition he faces, but he was the #1 prospect on the Cape last summer.
10. Dylan Covey, RHP, Maranatha HS, CA
Covey is a strong high school righty with big velocity up to 96 mph and a power curve. He reminds some of Chad Billingsley for his big stuff and his polish as a high school pitcher.
11. Zack Cox, 3b, Arkansas
There are some questions about how much power he will hit for with wood, but he is off to a great start this season and can flat out hit. I have seen him hit some bombs in college and think the power will be there. He still has some work to do at third, but he has a plus arm and has done some pitching for the Razorbacks.
12. Josh Sale, OF, Bishop Blanchet HS, WA
He is limited athletically and is probably going to be stuck in left field, but this kid can hit both for power and average. Sale is the top high school bat in the draft and also draws rave reviews for his makeup.
13. Brandon Workman, RHP, Texas
Workman turned down a 3rd round bonus out of high school and after his first 2 seasons in college some may have said that was a mistake as he had so-so success as a swing man for the Longhorns. That has all changed this year as he is finally putting it together as a starter. Workman has the stereotypical 6’5″ 220 pound frame as well as a fastball that can touch the mid-90′s and a hammer 12-6 curve that could push him toward the top of a big league rotation.
14. Jesse Hahn, RHP, Virginia Tech
Hahn has gone from an unsung high school teammate of Matt Harvey to likely passing him on draft boards. He has one of the best fastballs in the draft touching 99 mph on the Cape last summer and sitting easily at 92-96 this spring with a ton of movement. He hadn’t had much success in the past, but he is throwing strikes and getting results this year. His secondary pitches need some work, but he has the type of fastball that can get outs by itself.
15. Christian Colon, SS, Cal St Fullerton
Colon got off to a slow start this spring, but he has heated up recently. He has been a star the last two summers playing with Team USA and has produced in college. He may not have the best tools, but he is smooth in the field, knows how to hit, and is a gamer.
16. Yordy Cabrera, SS, Lakeland HS, FL
The son of the Tigers’ minor league hitting coordinator has been around pro baseball his whole life. He has impressive tools including power and a plus arm. There have been some questions about him translating impressive batting practice displays over to games and his age as he is already 20 years old after moving over from the Dominican to attend high school in the US. Some also believe he will outgrow short, but he definitely looks the part of a middle of the order bat.
17. Austin Wilson, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS, CA
Speaking of looking the part, Wilson is everything you look for in a stud big league right fielder. He has a ripped 6’4″ frame, huge power, and a cannon for an arm. He also has unbelievable makeup as he is committed to Stanford and his parents attended MIT and Harvard. He has also proven that he is not just all tools and hit an impressive homer off Karsten Whitson in the Under Armour All-America game last summer.
18. Kevin Gausman, RHP, Grandview HS, CO
The projectable Gausman has a sinker that he can run up to 96 mph as well as a good curve and change up. He also has a nice delivery and throws strikes.
19. Nick Castellanos, 3b, Archbishop McCarthy HS, FL
Castellanos put on a show at the Under Armour game last summer winning the home run derby and going 4-4 with 4 doubles during the game. He looks the part at third with good hands, a strong arm, and plenty of power.
20. Alex Wimmers, RHP, Ohio St
Wimmers doesn’t have the stuff of some of the high school hurlers that will be available, but he knows how to pitch and is having a great spring. He generally works from 90-92 mph with a curve and a change that have both been rated highly, but what sets him apart is his command and his composure on the mound.
21. Matt Harvey, RHP, North Carolina
Harvey has been all over the place as a draft prospect. From once being considered 1a to Rick Porcello in high school to pricing himself out of pro ball to an up down college career. He is on the way back up currently topping out at 97 mph along with a nasty, hard slider and dominating on Friday nights for North Carolina.
22. Bryce Brentz, OF, Middle Tennessee St
Brentz put himself on the map by putting up video game numbers last year slugging .930. He has an aggressive approach, but he gets results. He is also a decent athlete having pitched in the past, and he has moved over from right to center this season. In a draft short on college position players, someone will likely jump on Brentz early looking for a bat.
23. Stetson Allie, RHP/3b, St. Edward HS, OH
Allie is as physically gifted as any player in this class. He has touched 99 mph on the mound and would also be one of the top power bats in the draft if he chooses to go that direction. As is typical with dual sport or two way players, he is raw, but the upside is as good as any player in the draft.
24. Sammy Solis, LHP, San Diego
Solis missed last season with a herniated disc, but he has come back very strong this year. He has very good command of a fastball that sits 89-92 and can reach 94 and his change may be his best pitch. He comes at hitters with a different delivery dropping down from 3/4 to sidearm, but he knows how to pitch.
25. Jedd Gyorko, 2b/SS, West Virginia
Gyorko does not have the tools that you would look for in a first round pick, but what he does is hit. He has drawn some comparisons as a mini version of Kevin Youkilis. He has a strong arm, but he doesn’t have much speed. Gyorko plays short in college, but most see a move over to 2nd or even 3rd in pro ball.
26. Chevez Clarke, OF, Marietta HS, GA
A draft wouldn’t be complete without a 5-tool high school outfielder in the first round, and Clarke may be that guy this year. He has plus speed and is a plus defender in center. He doesn’t have a whole lot of power, but he takes advantage of his speed as a switch hitter, and he is having a great spring.
27. Stefan Sabol, C, Aliso Niquel HS, CA
Teams love athletic catchers that have a chance to hit, and Sabol is exactly that. The cousin of Troy Polamula, Sabol runs a 6.7 second 60 yard dash and also has a plus arm. He needs some work behind the plate, and some see an eventual move to the outfield. However, a catcher with his kind of skills is hard to find, and someone will give him a chance to stick.
28. Cam Bedrosian, RHP, East Coweta HS, GA
Small righties have a stigma about them, but teams need to get over that with Bedrosian. He has a power arm and holds his stuff deep into games. The son of Cy Young winner Steve, the younger Bedrosian has a 96 mph fastball, a plus slider, and knows how to pitch.
29. Kris Bryant, 3b, Bonanza HS, NV
Bryant is about the only bat in the draft that can match up to Bryce Harper from a raw power standpoint as he has put on some unbelievable batting practice displays. There are some questions about him translating that over to games, but others have given him Troy Glaus comparisons.
30. Micah Gibbs, C, LSU
Catchers usually get overvalued, and that could happen with Gibbs this year. He is a switch hitter from a top college program that receives all kinds of praise for his leadership abilities drawing some Jason Varitek comparisons. He is solid behind the plate and although he may not hit for a lot of power, he should hit for a decent average.
Honorable mention in no particular order: Michael Choice, Gary Brown, Todd Cunningham, Yasmani Grandal, Kyle Parker, Brett Eibner, Kyle Blair, Chad Bettis, Kaleb Cowart, Drew Cisco, DeAndre Smelter, Robbie Aviles, James Paxton, Leon Landry
I can’t figure out how to directly link to the individual pages on the new set-up for the mlb.com draft profiles, so here is a link to the page and you can select the players to read the scouting reports and watch the videos.