By Kiley McDaniel
After a number of conversations with scouts, club sources, and industry insiders, it’s time for the first full presentation of the SaberScouting High School Hot 30 for the 2009 draft.
We’ve already gone over the top 5 prep players for the ‘09 draft in about as much detail as possible at this juncture, and now the rest of the top talents will be covered, including an intriguing shortstop/right hander from Tampa’s Plant High, Mychal Givens, pictured right. Check out the new index for our ‘09 coverage and stay tuned for our college draft coverage coming soon.
As the ‘09 draft crop is coming into focus with a multitude of high school showcases, the rising senior class is being put under a microscope. That being said, when the top players in the country convene, every now and then, a top underclassmen catches the scouting community’s eye, and that right now, that player is Bryce Harper.
As chronicled by Jonathan Mayo for MLB.com, Perfect Game, and Baseball America, Las Vegas HS catcher Bryce Harper is considered by many to possibly be the top high school prospect in America, including the recent 2008 draft class.
Now, this isn’t unprecedented, as elite amateur toolboxes like Scott Kazmir, Michael Main, Cameron Maybin, Kyle Drabek, and Eric Hosmer were highly-regarded by scouts early in their high school careers and were closely followed in their junior seasons. The thing that distinguishes Harper from even that elite group is that he’s 15 years old and just finished his freshman season of high school baseball.
Harper now rivals Justin Upton as the youngest domestic buzz prospect in recent memory. Some would submit other names from an earlier generation to the discussion, such as Darryl Strawberry (1st overall out of HS in ‘80 draft) and Harold Baines (1st overall out of HS in ‘77 draft).
Where am I going with this story? Not really sure, but if you’re checking in to read the Hot 30, I’m sure you wanted to know about Bryce Harper. Check out the top 30 and two bonus prospects after the jump…
A couple notes before we get started:
Until I get some of my videos up of a few of these top guys from the Hot 30, these players are largely mysteries to you, the reader, despite all the information we’re reporting. Well, don’t worry, all of these top 5 players, and over half of our top 30 will be at the AFLAC All-American game on August 9th, at 3 PM Eastern on Fox Sports Net. Click here to see the full rosters and learn more about the event.
This top 30 is populated mostly of players that are showcase regulars, as they are the ones that have been seen most often. So, when the full list comes out, you’ll see lots of California, Florida, Georgia, and Texas players, and almost no one that hasn’t been to some kind of showcase this summer; that’s just the way it is with scouts focusing almost exclusively on seniors this past spring.
So, some players that go high in the draft (like 34th overall pick in the ‘08 draft, Zach Collier) don’t go to showcases at all and the only time it hurts them is in very early rankings such as these. Early apologies to such players.
Now for the irresponsibly early stab at ranking some teenagers’ baseball abilities…
1. Tyler Matzek, LHP
School & Hometown: Capistrano Valley HS; Mission Viejo, CA
Specs: 6′3, 185, Bats L, Throws L
Skinny: The classic projectable high school arm with the unclassic combination of now stuff, three pitches, projection, command, and left-handedness. Covered in depth in the top 5 breakdown.
2. Austin Maddox, C
School & Hometown: Eagle’s View Academy; Jacksonville, FL
Specs: 6′4, 220, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Elite catching prospect showcases a plus-plus arm behind the plate and massive power with the stick belied by a durable frame and advanced hitting and receiving skills. Covered in depth in the top 5 breakdown. Florida commit.
3. Matt Purke, LHP
School & Hometown: Klein HS; Spring, TX
Specs: 6′3, 170, Bats L, Throws L
Skinny: Projectable power lefty with a filthy fastball-slider combo and inevitable Scott Kazmir comparisons is a little raw but dominates high school hitters. Covered in depth in the top 5 breakdown.
4. Donavan Tate, CF
School & Hometown: Cartersville HS; Cartersville, GA
Specs: 6′3, 200, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Owner of a staggering amount of tools, Tate boasts 80 speed, a 70+ arm, and 60+ defense and power with flashes of plus hitting ability. The downside is that he also shows flashes of an overpaid future .185 hitter in rookie ball. Covered in depth in the top 5 breakdown.
5. Jacob Turner, RHP
School & Hometown: Westminster Christian HS; Saint Charles, MO
Specs: 6′4, 220, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Relatively polished prep arm with a safe profile backed by a solid track record, durable frame, low 90s fastball, above-average breaking ball, good changeup, and advanced command. Covered in depth in the top 5 breakdown.
6. Max Stassi, C
School & Hometown: Yuba City HS; Yuba City, CA
Specs: 5′10, 190, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: A polished, all-around backstop that lacks the frame and power scouts look for behind the plate, but shows solid gap pop, an above-average bat, and is an above-average defender with a plus arm. Stassi has really raised his profile on the showcase circuit into a legitimate top 2 rounder. UCLA commit.
7. Mychal Givens, RHP/SS
School & Hometown: Plant HS; Tampa, FL
Specs: 6′1, 190, Bats R, Throws R
Scouting Report: Givens is a bit of a conundrum to scouts at this admittedly very early juncture of the draft process. You can take a look at some video I took of Givens and what I thought of him from my first two looks. I originally compared him to current Jays prospect and former prep shortstop Justin Jackson. He’s an athletic and heady leader, a very good defender, and has a solid stroke with a little pop. I just didn’t see enough size/projection (looks in person like 5′10, 175), power, or consistent hitability to project him as a first round pick, but realized that his track record, makeup, and performance give him upward mobility on draft boards.
What I saw at the end of his junior season still seems to be the rap on Givens for most scouts, as he’s got all the makings of a top pick, but lacks a standout bat. Don’t get me wrong, that could still be a seven figure package in the sandwich round, like Jackson was, but others feel Givens is all projection at the plate and more of a third round pick as a shortstop and prefer him on the mound.
I discounted Givens’ long-term mound prospects in my earlier look, but it turns out he was fatigued when I saw him and has raised him arm angle a bit as well. At the PG National showcase, he was up to 94 while flashing an above-average slider and changeup from a low 3/4 arm angle; similar to what I saw, but showing improvement across the board. As it stands now, there’s a slight lean from the people I’ve talked to for Givens to stay on the mound, but his progess on the mound and at the plate should be an interesting draft storyline to monitor.
8. Luke Bailey, C
School & Hometown: Troup HS; LaGrange, GA
Specs: 6′0, 195, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Yet another big-time prep catcher has huge raw power, solid receiving skills, and an above-average arm. Bailey is ranked lower than Maddox and Stassi because doesn’t have the same kind of hitability, but he’s in the discussion as the best in a very deep crop of catchers.
9. Zach Wheeler, RHP
School & Hometown: East Paulding HS; Dallas, GA
Specs: 6′4, 180, Bats S, Throws R
Skinny: Pitched at 90-93 at the PG National Showcase and showed good command of three pitches. As the height/weight suggests, Wheeler has a good amount of projection left, and with good stuff, good command, and an easy motion, he has all the makings of a top prospect.
10. LeVon Washington, CF/2B
School & Hometown: Buchholz HS; Gainesville, FL
Specs: 5′10, 170, Bats L, Throws R
Skinny: Washington put up a 6.21 60-yard in front of hundreds of top-level eyeballs at the PG National Showcase and I pause to call his speed 80 because he’s a full grade or two off the scale. Split the difference and call it 85 speed. He’s polished on the basepaths but a little raw in the field and at the plate with solid pop, but Washington’s wheels cover a multitude of sins, both on offense and defense. He plays shortstop for his high school team and has an above-average arm, but he’s normally a centerfielder at showcases and has tried his hand at second base as well, which elicits obvious Luis Castillo comparisons. Check out a recent BA profile for more about Washington. Florida commit.
11. Chad Thompson, RHP
School & Hometown: El Toro HS; Trabuco Canyon, CA
Specs: 6′8, 215, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: The position and height tells most of the story here, as Thompson is a towering right-hander with good downward plane that has hit 94. He’s still raw, but has a clean arm and smooth delivery; if he can clean up the secondary pitches and command, he should shoot up draft boards.
12. Chris Jenkins, RHP
School & Hometown: Westfield HS; Westfield, NJ
Specs: 6′7, 225, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Our next towering right-hander hails from New Jersey and has showed some dirty stuff at times. He obviously has the body and downward plane scouts are looking for and was up to 97 last spring and has topped out at 94 on the showcase circuit. He shows a hard slider that could be an out-pitch and has a clean arm, but his stuff varies from appearance to appearance and one insider said that he’s the, “worst athlete I’ve ever seen.” That being said, bigger guys take longer to come around and Jenkins could really take a step forward in the spring.
13. Bobby Borchering, 3B
School & Hometown: Bishop Verot HS; Alva, FL
Specs: 6′4, 190, Bats B, Throws R
Skinny: Borchering has also been covered on SaberScouting in the past and has an intriguing set of tools and projection. He currently plays third base and has an above-average arm, but Borchering’s frame has a lot of projection left and that may ultimately force a move to first base as he fills out. He profiles well there, as he’s got a smooth swing from both sides with advanced hitability from both sides, plus power that already shows up in games, a showcase track record, and solid athleticism. Florida commit.
14. Jonathan Singleton, 1B
School & Hometown: Millikan HS; Long Beach, CA
Specs: 6′2, 220, Bats L, Throws L
Skinny: Singleton is a big, left-handed, power-hitting first baseman that put on a show at the PG National Showcase HR Derby, winning he contest while hitting a number of balls in the upper deck at the MetroDome. Singleton has also shown some solid hitability and athleticism, but make no mistake; his lefty power is his calling card and his meal ticket.
15. David Nick, SS
School & Hometown: Cypress HS; Cypress, CA
Specs: 6′2, 175, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Nick isn’t a toolbox like many highly-regarded prep shortstops, he’s more of a solid all-around player with polish, but he’s got some upside too. From a projectable 6′2 frame, Nick shows a very good bat with gap power and high-level defense. Scouts love his makeup, all-out style, and how the game comes easily to him. UCLA commit.
16. Jacob Morris, CF
School & Hometown: Coppell HS; Coppell, TX
Specs: 6′3, 195, Bats B, Throws R
Skinny: Morris is a tooled-up switch-hitter ones scout called an, “antelope,” that can play anywhere on the field, but that has kept him from finding a defensive home. He has the potential to be ranked higher come next June if he can show a better approach, as he struggled to make contact, particularly from the left side, on the showcase circuit. It appears his plus tools will play the best, and quickest, in center field, as a sort of poor man’s Donavan Tate.
17. Andrew Susac, C
School & Hometown: Jesuit HS; Roseville, CA
Specs: 6′1, 190, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Susac heads up the second tier of what is shaping up to be an outstanding prep catching class. He has shown an above-average arm and at least average defense along with above-average raw power, a package that many piqued the interest of many scouts. Susac also shows an ability to hit with wood against elite pitching, but his bat lacks polish and he lacks the big-time tools of the backstops ahead of him. He projects as a top three rounds prospect. Oregon State commit.
18. Scooter Gennett, SS/RHP
School & Hometown: Sarasota HS; Sarasota, FL
Specs: 5′10, 170, Bats L, Throws R
Skinny: Gennett is the heir apparent to Casey Kelly’s spot as starting shortstop and ace for the powerhouse Sarasota Sailors. Gennett has three pitches he can throw for strikes including a low 90’s fastball but has a future as a hitter in the middle of the diamond. It’s not clear yet if he’s a long-term shortstop, second base, or center fielder, but his tools will play almost anywhere. Scooter (his given name is Ryan) swings a mean left-handed bat with surprising pull power for his size and a solid approach. He has good makeup and all-around baseball instincts with quick feet and an above-average arm. Florida State commit.
19. Jacob Marisnick, CF
School & Hometown: Riverside Poly HS; Riverside, CA
Specs: 6′4, 200, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Marisnick is a big athlete from southern California with some serious tools that is still rough around the edges. He has above-average speed in a 6′4, 200 pound frame that can play in center field for now with an above-average arm. His bat from the right side impresses at times and his power approach is projectable as an above-average big league regular and first round pick if his hitability and pitch selection can progress. Scouts dream on his projectable, near ideal frame and also on his flashes of big power and hitability in BP sessions.
20. Keyvius Sampson, RHP
School & Hometown: Forest HS; Ocala, FL
Specs: 6′1, 180, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Sampson was being touted as an athletic center field prospect during his junior season, but now is being considered primarily as a polished right-hander. Sampson carries himself like a pro and commands his 90-92 mph fastball to both sides of the plate. He also has a particularly smooth delivery with easy velocity and plus athleticism. Sampson’s secondary stuff and size come up a little short and that limits his upside, but he’s got just about everything else going for him.
21. Matthew Moynihan, CF
School & Hometown: Cathedral Catholic HS; San Diego, CA
Specs: 6′2, 205, Bats L, Throws, R
Skinny: Moynihan frequently gets comparisons to fellow SoCal toolsy outfielder Jacob Marisnick for their centerfield tools and wide skillset. Moynihan is a plus runner and above-average defender in center with an average arm. He also swings a solid, consistent bat from the left side and his strong, 6′2, 205 pound frame figures to show more game power in time.
22. Brooks Pounders, 1B/RHP
School & Hometown: Temecula Valley HS; Temecula, CA
Specs: 6′5, 220, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Pounders is a well-known two-way prospect with pro potential as both a hitter and pitcher. On the mound, he’s been working from 88-92 with an above-average slider and curve. As a hitter, he has dropped some serious bombs on the showcase circuit in the past few months. While he’s athletic for his size, Pounders’ body is a little soft, he lacks some feel on the mound, and can get pull-happy at the plate. Scouts tend to prefer his power bat over his solid stuff on the mound. Southern Cal commit.
23. Daniel Tuttle, RHP
School & Hometown: Randleman HS; Randleman, NC
Specs: 6′2, 185, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Tuttle is another solid right-handed pitching prospect that has impressed scouts during showcase season. He works at 90-92 and has been up to 93 with a clean arm and solid command. Tuttle also uses a quality curveball but has a head tilt that is unconventional and worries some, despite solid mechanics otherwise. Tuttle also has limited height and bulk, but does have projection remaining.
24. Beau Wright, LHP
School & Hometown: Los Alamitos HS; Los Alamitos, CA
Specs: 6′2, 205, Bats L, Throws L
Skinny: Wright is a solid left-hander from southern California that has been blowing away high school hitters at recent showcases with solid stuff and advanced command. Wright works at 89-92 mph with a big-breaking curveball and good feel for his craft. At this level, he doesn’t need much more than that, but he’ll need to continue to make progress to find his way into the top two rounds come June.
25. Mike Zunino, C
School & Hometown: Mariner HS; Cape Coral, FL
Specs: 6′2, 185, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Zunino has been known for some time as a top catching prospect for his advanced catch-and-throw skills and instincts along with his bloodlines: his father is an southern Florida area scout. Many still question Zunino’s long-term hitability, but everyone likes his makeup, showcase track record, professional frame, solid pop, and above-average defensive tools. Florida commit.
26. Matt Davidson, 3B
School & Hometown: Yucaipa HS, Yucaipa, CA
Specs: 6′3, 210, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Davidson is a southern California power/power prospect with 90+ mph velocity on the mound and thump in his bat at a corner position. He has a sturdy, solid frame that creates big power but will limit him to a corner position, possibly catcher. Davidson is a better prospect as a high-ceiling power bat, despite some questions about his general athleticism and present ability to make contact against top competition. Southern Cal commit.
27. Madison Younginer, RHP
School & Hometown: Mauldin HS; Simpsonville, SC
Specs: 6′3, 190, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Younginer is a very projectable right-handed power arm. He’s been working at 91-94, with a hammer curve at 75-78, both above-average offerings when he commands them. That’s the problem, though: Younginer has some trouble harnessing his stuff. His pure stuff, relatively calm mechanics, clean arm action, and projectable frame all bode well for his future.
28. Matt Hobgood, RHP
School & Hometown: Norco HS; Norco, CA
Specs: 6′4, 245, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Hobgood caught scouts’ attention at recent showcases in similar fashion to Younginer: with big stuff and a lack of contol. Hobgood has worked from 91-95, depending on whether he’s working with a power sinker or trying to top out a four-seamer for the radar guns. With either approach, he hasn’t been hitting spots too often and had trouble locating his offspeed pitches. There’s a lack of feel, some effort in the delivery, and some softness in his body, but the pure power stuff and workhorse frame are there.
29. Chad Kettler, 2B/3B
School & Hometown: Coppell HS; Coppell, TX
Specs: 6′1, 190, Bats B, Throws R
Skinny: Kettler is a versatile infielder with an impressive switch-hitting stroke. He plays shortstop currently, but won’t stick there long-term due to below-average speed. Second base is the best profile as he has solid defensive actions and plenty of arm for any position. Kettler’s meal ticket is his hitting ability from both sides, and while he has some pop, his frame limits more than average power. There may be some questions about Kettler’s ultimate position, but he’s on the list because he can hit, he can play the infield, and he’s an instinctual baseball rat.
30. Deven Marrero, SS
School & Hometown: American Heritage HS; Davie, FL
Specs: 6′0, 160, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Marrero is the younger brother of Nationals top prospect and former 1st rounder Chris Marrero. He also plays for 2008 High School National Champions American Heritage High. With that kind of pedigree and background, along with a gamer style and solid makeup, you can see what there is to like about Marrero. That being said, he lacks bulk and doesn’t have a standout bat, along with no more than average speed. He looks to most scouts right now like a good college player with rock solid intangibles. That type of player’s draft fortunes depends on his bonus demands, but he looks a lot like a guy that will go in the top three rounds after a solid three years in college.
Matt Graham, RHP
School & Hometown: Oak Ridge HS; Spring, TX
Specs: 6′3, 195, Bats R, Throws R
Skinny: Graham was one of the top five prep prospects in this class just a few months ago, as the next star pupil from guru Ron Wolforth’s academy that has already produced Scott Kazmir. Since then, he finished his junior season and pitched in some early showcases and his normal low-to-mid 90’s heater was in the 85-88 mph range and his stuff was down across the board. He doesn’t appear to be hurt, because he’s still pitching and visually looks fine. It may just be dead arm or something he needs to work through, and no one really knows what to make of him right now. If Graham can regain his prior form, he would jump into the top 5.
Richard Stock, C
School & Hometown: Agoura HS; Agoura Hills, CA
Specs: 6′3, 185, Bats L, Throws R
Skinny: Richard is the brother of current USC catcher and former high school showcase legend Robert Stock. Entering the season, much was known about Robert, and almost nothing about Richard. The younger brother has recently come on the scene and has caught some eyes. Accounts on his talent are few and far between at this point, but BA’s Dave Perkin is securely in the optimistic camp. Watch out for him to possibly shoot up this list in short order.