What began as a head-to-head matchup piece between the top two high school prospects at each position (inspired by today’s Clint Frazier/Austin Meadows showdown) has turned into a really quick top five at each spot. Long-time readers of the site know how much it pains me to cut rankings off at such a low number, but, as a gigantic NFL Draft fan, I figure going top five is good enough for the great Mike Mayock, so a nobody like me on a nobody site like this can get away with it too. Let’s do this.
1. C Reese McGuire (Kentwood HS, Washington)
2. C Jonathan Denney (Yukon HS, Oklahoma)
3. C Nick Ciuffo (Lexington HS, South Carolina)
4. C Chris Okey (Eustis HS, Florida)
5. C Brian Navarreto (Arlington County Day HS, Florida)
Denney has narrowed the gap on McGuire for many (some have Denney ahead), but I still like the athleticism, approach, and swing of the kid from Kentwood. Of course, I’d be thrilled with either at pick 16, the very same spot my hometown team just so happens to be picking this year. I think the top four prep catchers have begun to separate themselves from the pack a bit, but the fifth spot is wide open. I know I’m the millionth person to say this, but, damn, what a strong group of high school catchers.
1. 1B Dominic Smith (Serra HS, California)
2. 1B Nick Longhi (Venice HS, Florida)
3. 1B Rowdy Tellez (Elk Grove HS, California)
4. 1B Zack Collins (American Heritage HS, Florida)
5. 1B Bryce Harman (Lloyd C. Bird HS, Virginia)
As much as I respect players 2-5 on this list, I think it is fair to say that the high school first base hierarchy is Dominic Smith and everybody else. Like the catchers, I believe in the top four holding steady for the foreseeable future with the fifth and final spot being wide open.
1. 2B Anfernee Grier (Russell County HS, Alabama)
2. 2B Christian Arroyo (Hernando HS, Florida)
3. 2B Dalton Dulin (Memphis University HS, Tennessee)
4. 2B Nate Mondou (Charles Wright Academy, Washington)
5. 2B Errol Robinson: (St. John’s College HS, Maryland)
Ranking high school second basemen is a a fool’s game, but I’m a fool so here we go. Grier is the best right now by a pretty fair margin. Above-average is the word of the day with his tools: above-average arm, above-average power upside, above-average hit tool, above-average speed. The only question on Grier for me is whether or not he’ll the chance to stay at 2B or if a team decides they like his bat/speed enough to move him right to CF as a pro. The other four names aren’t known for their big tools, but rather for their well-earned reputations as hard workers, steady gloves, and pesky hitters who do the little things that help them rise above certain physical limitations.
1. 3B Cavan Biggio (St. Thomas HS, Texas)
2. 3B Travis Demeritte (Winder Barrow HS, Georgia)
3. 3B Wesley Jones (Redan HS, Georgia)
4. 3B Jan Hernandez (Carlos Beltran Academy, Puerto Rico)
5. 3B Ryan McMahon (Mater Dei HS, California)
This was the most difficult position to pare down to five names by a long shot. I literally began the process with a dozen players deserving of some time in the top five spotlight. Biggio is the most well-rounded, Demeritte’s defense is special, and Jones can look great or pedestrian on any given day. A friend called Hernandez a less exciting version of Javier Baez, whatever that means. McMahon has been a long-time favorite, as so often happens with these Mater Dei guys. It’s a cop-out to say this about the fifth ranked player on a list, but it would be no surprise if McMahon winds up as the best long-term pro. He’s got a great balance of upside and present skill.
1. SS Oscar Mercado (Gaither HS, Florida)
2. SS JP Crawford (Lakewood HS, California)
3. SS Andy McGuire (James Madison HS, Virginia)
4. SS Connor Heady (North Oldham HS, Kentucky)
5. SS Chris Rivera (El Dorado HS, California)
I’m more confused about Mercado than I am any other 2013 high school position player. I actually was thinking about him last night in the context of straight baseball fandom, and not the guy who runs a draft website. Would I want my team to draft him? If so, how high would I be comfortable taking him? As mentioned a few times already, the Phillies, picking 16th, are my team of choice. If they used pick 16 on Mercado, how would I feel? This may be a silly barometer to use on a wannabe-professional sounding site like this, but it’s hard to hide the fact that I’m always going to be a baseball fan first, and an always wrong draft writer second. I’d be quite pleased with Mercado at 16 at this point. That in and of itself is high praise, I think. This whole internal debate also got me thinking about the man ranked just one spot below Mercado, JP Crawford. If Crawford was the pick at 16, I’d be thrilled. I still see Mercado as a potential above-average regular at shortstop down the line: the tools are all present, with the exception of power/physicality, and I’ve heard from people who have seen him recently that concerns about his effort/attitude/makeup are overblown. Projecting Crawford is almost as difficult, but I think of him as a greater boom/bust type of prospect. If the light bulb goes on, he’s a superstar. If not…
1. OF Austin Meadows (Grayson HS, Georgia)
2. OF Clint Frazier (Loganville HS, Georgia)
3. OF Ryan Boldt (Red Wing HS, Minnesota)
4. OF Justin Williams (Terrebonne HS, Louisiana)
5. OF/LHP Trey Ball (New Castle HS, Indiana)
The whole idea behind this piece was to highlight the forthcoming Meadows vs Frazier head-to-head battle. After starting and stopping a singular piece on the duo for a spell, I came to a realization. This may make me a major chump in the online baseball draft world, but, after thinking about it for much longer than I’d be comfortable admitting, I don’t yet have a strong opinion on Meadows vs Frazier. It’s the ultimate cop-out, but I like both guys a lot. The narrative for the comparison seems to be the toolsy yet raw Meadows (upside!) vs the polished, high-level hitting ability of Frazier (relative safety). Like most media-driven story lines — I used “media” quite loosely here — there is some degree of truth to the labels put upon both players. Meadows does have raw power, athleticism, foot speed, and a throwing arm that add up to one of the draft’s highest ceiling overall talents. Frazier’s swing is a thing of beauty, and he does consistently make loud contact with the meatiest part of the barrel. However, the quick and dirty player archetypes assigned to both fails to address how well-rounded each outfielder is as a prospect. Meadows pitch recognition and patience at the plate is unusually impressive for a young (quick note: he’s a few months younger than Frazier, which matters) hitter. Frazier’s physical gifts, most notably his plus-plus arm, well above-average speed underway, and massive power upside (seriously, Frazier’s hit some of the longest pop-ups I’ve ever recorded, maybe the longest) stack up with any other player in this or any high school class.
As for the rest: Boldt strikes me as somewhat similar to David Dahl, so we’ll have to wait and see if he enjoys any of the same late-spring draft helium; the rawness in Williams’ game scares some away, but it’s exactly what draws me to him; I’m not anti-Ball by any means, but it does send up a little red flag when you realize a) his age relative to his peers in the class, and b) how far he has to go as a hitter. A trio of speedsters (Josh Hart, Terry McClure, Matt McPhearson) would be the next men up.
I don’t normally differentiate between RHP and LHP, but what the heck. I’ll add a little commentary in an hour or so, but I wanted to get something up here now before the big game down in Georgia.
1. RHP Kohl Stewart (St. Pius X HS, Texas)
2. RHP Jordan Sheffield (Tullahoma HS, Tennessee)
3. RHP Keegan Thompson (Cullman HS, Alabama)
4. RHP Carlos Salazar (Kerman HS, California)
5. RHP Brett Morales (King HS, Florida)
1. LHP Robert Kaminsky (St. Joseph Regional HS, New Jersey)
2. LHP Ian Clarkin (James Madison HS, California)
3. LHP Matt Krook (Saint Ignatius HS, California):
4. LHP Jake Brentz (Parkway South HS, Missouri)
5. LHP Stephen Gonsalves (Cathedral Catholic HS, California)