The First Academy, one of the most prospect-laden high school teams in the country, lost a key prospect to early college enrollment. After three years of high school, outfielder/first baseman Joey Swinarski elected to join the Mississippi State Bulldogs and forgo his opportunity to enter the 2014 draft.
TFA has two players who could factor into the top five rounds of the 2014 draft and Swinarski was considered a top-10 round talent. Outfielder Adam Haseley, a Virginia commit, starred for the USA Baseball 18-and-under National team and had the highest batting average of any player at the World Cup, hitting .484/.515/.800. The lefthanded Haseley has also shown aptitude on the mound with a high-80s fastball that has touched 90 miles per hour. Lefthander Foster Griffin, a Mississippi commit, has a big, projectable 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame, a fastball up to 92 and feel for both a changeup and breaking ball.
Swinarski went to showcase events early in the summer, such as Perfect Game National in Minneapolis in June, but decided to forgo his senior season toward the latter part of the summer. The 18-year-old Swinarski could help a Bulldogs team that went to the College World Series last year. The long, loose and lean Swinarski has an athletic build at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds with a frame that will hold increased strength and additional weight gain.
Swinarski could develop into an impact hitter at the college level with some developmental strides. He has good bat speed and some leverage in his swing that could enable him to grow into average or better power as his frame fills. Swinarski has an aggressive approach at the plate initiated by a big stride. His hands can get deep and low in his load and he can occasionally bar out, causing an uphill swing path. But Swinarski, who is very intelligent, has some looseness to his hands and natural hitting ability.
Swinarski profiles best in an outfield corner and could see time in right field in Starkville. He has above-average straight line speed presently, running the 60-yard dash on the turf at PG National in 6.7 seconds, and will likely be an average runner going forward. He could develop an average arm in the future.
TFA, which opened in 1987, had a chance to have more players drafted this year (three) than all other years combined (two), a year after producing a third-round pick, shortstop/outfielder Ben DeLuzio, a freshman at Florida State who was the highest unsigned pick in the 2013 draft.
–Although Florida lost Swinarski, IMG Academy, Bradenton, Fla., had a solid class of transfers from northern states, headlined by outfielder Luke Bonfield and infielder Taylor Lane.
Bonfield, 18, transferred from Skillman High, Immaculata, N.J. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound outfielder stands out because of his hit tool. Bonfield has a very quick bat, a direct line-drive bat path and made consistent hard contact throughout the summer. His strong bat-to-ball skills come from a unique process, which includes a high stride up to his waist and deep load. His hit tool is ahead of his power but Bonfield, a pull-oriented hitter, can show occasional pull pop and should grow into more power. Bonfield is an average runner and should fit in an outfield corner, likely left field, with a present below-average arm that could be an average arm in the future. With a medium frame and athletic build, Bonfield has a lean lower half and strength in his forearms and wrists. Bonfield is currently uncommitted and plays travel ball for the Atlanta Blue Jays.
Lane is a Florida commit who transferred from Great Bridge High, Chesapeake, Va., which produced Justin Upton and Michael Cuddyer and has 2014 prospect Charlie Cody, a third baseman committed to Virginia. With a large frame, Lane, who turns 18 this month, is a big, projectable athlete at 6-foot-1, 185-pounds with a wiry build, sloped shoulders and some present strength. An average straight-line runner at best (who posts below average times through first), Lane will likely move off shortstop but has some quickness and a strong arm. Lane has some bat speed at the plate, a line-drive swing and uses the whole field but also some stiffness to his hands and hips. His swing could make strides with a few adjustments. Given his frame and build, Lane, a member of the Evoshield Canes, could make substantial power gains as he matures.
–Legendary Chatsworth High coach Tom Meusborn, who has guided the powerhouse program for 24 years, has joined the college ranks after being named assistant coach at Cal State Northridge.
Under Meusborn, Chatsworth won eight CIF City Section Division I titles and 19 West Valley League titles. The Chancellors won back-to-back national titles in 2003 and 2004, when Chatsworth went 35-0. In 24 seasons, his .825 winning percentage is the highest in California history for a coach with at least 100 victories.
The program produced two 2007 first-round picks in Mike Moustakas (No. 2) and Matt Dominguez (No.12). Meusborn will join head coach first-year head coach Greg Moore’s staff.