When lefthander Chris Kohler takes the mound, he doesn't light up the radar guns. He comfortably sits in the high 80s, but when you combine his projection, easy delivery and relative freshness, it's easy to dream on his future.
Kohler was mostly a position player until taking the mound as the ace of his freshman team, but during his sophomore year at Damien High (La Verne, Calif.) he didn't pitch in hopes of keeping his arm fresh.
"My dad always wanted to save my arm for high school so I never really pitched in travel ball and middle school," Kohler said. "After sophomore year, going into my junior year, that's when I really started feeling like I was more of a pitcher than a hitter. My arm was getting stronger."
Damien High is a private, all boy Catholic school and Kohler was supposed to have a scholarship to attend. However, he says things didn't work out and his parents couldn't afford for him to go there so he switched to Los Osos High (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.). But the proper paperwork for his transfer didn't get filed so the California Interscholastic Federation denied him from playing his junior season. [...] Continue Reading »
Oscar Mercado is a shortstop from Gaither High in Tampa. He is best known for his defense right now as he has excellent range, soft hands and a plus arm. He has a line drive swing and doesn't project to hit for much power, but he has good bat speed and the foot speed to make a difference on the bases. Mercado has a thin frame at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds, but there's room to add more strength.
Subscribers can read a feature on Oscar Mercado, which includes him talking about moving to the United States from Colombia as an 8-year-old and stepping in as the starting shortstop on his varsity team as a freshman. Below is video of Mercado at the World Wood Bat Championship in Jupiter, Fla., as a rising junior and at the Under Armour All-America Game, powered by Baseball Factory, as a rising senior. Under Armour footage was provided by Alycat Photo & Video Services. [...] Continue Reading »
Seasons are slowly, but surely, getting underway for varsity teams around the country. Florida schools are several games in, while Texas kicked things off last week and Georgia and California are up next. As we pointed out a couple weeks ago, there are plenty of big tournaments and games to keep an eye on throughout the spring. Two of those matchups happen this weekend at the 2013 LaGrange Invitational Tournament in Georgia. Hosted by LaGrange High, this event attracts schools from the immediate region, but has been known to get a few to travel a little further.
At this year's event, it's worth watching how Crisp County High (Cordele, Ga.), Cullman (Ala.) High, Russell County High (Seale, Ala.) and Grayson High (Loganville, Ga.) make out. Grayson begins the season as the No. 9 team in the Baseball America/National High School Baseball Coaches Association Top 25, and the Rams have the country's top draft prospect in Austin Meadows, a sweet-swinging outfielder with at least plus speed and power.
Crisp County features righthander Robert Tyler, the No. 98 high school player. Tyler has a skinny, projectable frame at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, and he can run his fastball into his low 90s, though his arm action and lack of secondary stuff gives scouts pause right now. Cullman High features one of the state's best athletes in righthander Keegan Thompson (No. 43), who can pitch with an average to plus fastball and flash a good curveball. Cullman is scheduled to play Grayson on March 1 so keep your fingers crossed for a Meadows-Thompson duel. Crisp County will face Russell County on March 2, which could see Tyler face outfielder Anfernee Grier (No. 88). Grier has excellent bat speed and a plus arm. [...] Continue Reading »
Just like Pod 1 of the USA Baseball National High School Invitational, Pod 3 has a matchup that should get scouts excited. The first game has Tullahoma (Tenn.) High, the preseason No. 22 team, facing No. 8 Mater Dei—the defending NHSI champs. Tullahoma's ace is Jordan Sheffield, the No. 7 high school prospect and would have to face big bats in catcher Jeremy Martinez (No. 31) and third baseman Ryan McMahon (No. 66).
The second game has Lexington (S.C.) High going up against Miami's Florida Christian. Lexington went 10-15 in 2011, but veteran coach Brian Hucks took over and immediately turned things around. The Wildcats went 27-4 last season and are the state's top team heading into 2013. The offense is led by catcher Nick Ciuffo, a South Carolina recruit and the No. 19 high school prospect. Florida Christian is a consistent contender in South Florida and has lefty Christian Pelaez as the staff ace. A Louisiana State recruit, Pelaez is known for his pitchability. [...] Continue Reading »
Pod 1 of the USA Baseball National High School Invitational features San Diego's Cathedral Catholic High against Grayson High (Loganville, Ga.) and Venice (Fla.) High against Memphis' Christian Brothers High. The first matchup pits the preseason Nos. 3 and 9 teams against each other and should be a highlight for scouts. Teams are likely to send their aces out in the first round so it's possible we could see lefthander Stephen Gonsalves take the hill for Cathedral Catholic, setting up an excellent showdown between him and outfielder Austin Meadows, the top prospect for the 2013 draft.
The second game has a defending state champ in Venice and perennial contender in Christian Brothers. Venice returns six starters from last year's team, including outfielder Nick Longhi, the No. 69 high school prospect. Christian Brothers has 10 state titles and two junior pitchers committed to Division I programs—John Wesley Ray (Ole Miss) and Corey Herndon (Arkansas). [...] Continue Reading »
The 2013 USA Baseball National High School Invitational is set for March 27-30 in Cary, N.C. Sixteen teams are vying for the championship in a single-elimination tournament. Each team is guaranteed four games, but they must win to keep advancing in the winners' bracket.
The 2012 NHSI marked the event's inaugural run and certainly didn't disappoint. Exciting baseball was seen over the four days and the championship was decided in extra innings on a walk-off single. The Baseball America Top 25 rankings saw a great deal of movement with upsets and dominating runs and the draft even felt some effect with players like outfielder Courtney Hawkins having a breakout performance. Hawkins hit a home run and pitched a shutout in a 1-0 win over Miami's Gulliver Prep for Carroll High (Corpus Christi, Texas). He then became the 13th overall pick and reached high Class A for the White Sox in the summer.
This year's field looks to be just as good, if not better. Nine teams were ranked in the Preseason Top 25 and nine players from the High School Top 100 will be on the field playing. San Diego's Cathedral Catholic could be considered the favorite to win simply on its preseason No. 3 ranking, but the Dons also have five Division I arms on the roster and pitching is key to surviving four straight days of top competition. However, Mater Dei can't be counted out given most of their pitching and offense is back from their run last season.
Dozens of high school prospects hope to get a chance to play in the Under Armour All-America Game, but fewer than 40 players actually get the opportunity each year. Being an all-American takes talent and hard work, but there's more to the honor than playing in a nationally televised game. It's been more than four years since I tried out for the Detroit Tigers and the itch to participate recently returned. I wanted to get a closer look at the Under Armour All-America experience so I put down my recorder and donned some workout gear. Under Armour and Baseball Factory made me an honorary All-American so I could participate in the workouts and other events surrounding the main feature. Luckily, for everyone's amusement, the camera was rolling… [...] Continue Reading »
The inaugural USA Baseball National High School Invitational is right around the corner and the Bracket Selection Show is now live, announcing the first-round matchups and ensuing schedule. The event is presented by Baseball America and the Town of Cary and will be played March 28-31 at the National Training Complex.
The selection show, hosted by USA Baseball's Jake Fehling, has analysis from Baseball America's Nathan Rode and Conor Glassey as well as interviews with representatives from USA Baseball and the Town of Cary and participating players and coaches.
When scouts head to St. Edward High in Lakewood, Ohio, it's not only just to see righthander Stetson Allie. His battery mate, Alex Lavisky, is a prospect for the 2010 draft as well.
As Baseball America scout Dave Perkin pointed out back in October, Taijuan Walker is an up and coming righthander in Southern California for the 2010 draft. Below is a bit of what Perkin said about him in the fall and his scouting report that appears in Prospects Plus.
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