With the draft just more than 10 weeks away, here are some players who are moving up and down teams’ draft boards this spring. . .
James Baldwin, of, Pinecrest HS, Southern Pines, N.C.
The son of the former righthanded pitcher of the same name, the younger Baldwin is just as tall as his dad but is a lot leaner and more athletic.
Baldwin is a three-sport star for Pinecrest High. He was a four-year starter on the football team as a highly-recruited wide receiver, and an all-conference forward on the basketball team. But he’s giving up those sports to focus solely on baseball from here on out.
Through his first eight games, Baldwin was hitting .500/.552/.654 with two doubles, two home runs and five stolen bases. He’s very instinctive on the basepaths and steals third base like he owns it.
Baldwin is an Elon recruit and the 6-foot-3, 187-pounder has an extremely projectable frame with long arms and legs. He glides in the outfield and easily covers a large swath of land with his long, graceful strides. His arms make his swing a little long at the plate, but his swing also produces a lot of leverage, giving him power potential from the left side of the plate as he fills out and grows into his body.
“Every coach in the school needs a guy like this,” Pinecrest baseball coach Jeff Hewitt said. “He’s set major records for receiving at Pinecrest. The day after the team lost to Fuquay-Varina in the playoffs, he was on the basketball court. He’s just a joy to watch. He’s also keeping his grades up. He has juggled so many sports for so many years, it’s going to be awesome to watch him at the next level, to see him narrow in on one sport. . . . He does an amazing job with his range in the outfield and he has an uncanny ability to steal third.”
Spencer Davis, ss, The Woodlands (Texas) HS
Davis, a Texas A&M recruit, will get plenty of looks this season, as he’s the starting shortstop for The Woodlands (Texas) High, the No. 17 high school team in the country and one that features the top high school prospect, righthander Jameson Taillon, on the mound.
Scouts are taking a liking to the physical, 6-foot-3 shortstop who hits third in the Highlanders’ potent lineup.
“If there’s a guy that could overshadow Taillon on that team, I think it’s him,” an American League area scout said. “He’s got a very athletic body and I think he could play shortstop in the big leagues. He moves well, he has a great physique—6-3, probably 205 (pounds), broad shoulders, narrow waist. He moves well with a lot of whip in the bat—it’s a good, quick bat. If he doesn’t outgrow the position, from a bulk standpoint, I think he could stay at short at the pro level.”
Sammy Solis, lhp, San Diego
Solis was an 18th-round pick by the Diamondbacks out of Agua Fria High (Avondale, Ariz.) in 2007, but instead headed to San Diego where he threw the fifth-most innings for them as a freshman in 2008. He spent the 2009 season as a medical redshirt when a herniated disc in his lower back limited him to just 12 innings.
This year, Solis is healthy again and has regained his old form. Over his first 29 inning, the big, 6-foot-5, 228-pound lefthander is 3-1, 2.51 with 30 strikeouts and nine walks. His fastball is sitting in the low 90s and has been clocked as high as 94 mph. His resurgence has been one of the few bright spots during the Toreros’ disappointing 11-10 start to the season.
“He has a very good arm,” an area scout said. “His breaking ball and changeup are both good—the curveball is an out pitch. He’s going to be OK. Right now in San Diego, he and (San Diego State’s Addison) Reed are the top guns.”
Mickey Wiswall, 1b, Boston College
Wiswall came into the season as one of the best corner infield bats in this year’s class. After all, he hit .320/.377/.551 last year with 14 home runs and followed that up by ranking second in RBIs (30), third in extra-base hits (13) and fifth in slugging (.447) in the Cape Cod League last summer.
This year though, he could be slipping. It would have been a great time for Wiswall to shine, as there aren’t many bats to be had, but he’s not performing as well as evaluators would like, hitting .263/.359/.569 over the Eagles’ first 19 games. He’s a free swinger and has the skills to make consistent contact, but teams generally prefer a more patient approach from their first basemen.
“I love Wiswall, I love him, but he’s just another guy,” a National League area scout said. “He’s a borderline non-prospect right now. He can’t play defense at all, they already put him at first base, and he’s not hitting.”
Deshun Dixon, lhp/of, Terrry (Miss.) HS
Dixon is the younger brother of Athletics outfielder Rashun Dixon. He was an Under Armour All-American this summer and came into the season ranked as the No. 79 prospect on Baseball America’s Top 100, but that may have been too high to begin with, and scouts haven’t been impressed with either his play or his attitude, so his status as a prospect has been dropping like a rock.
“Rashun’s a little bit more physical than Deshun, but Deshun got a lot stronger this year and he’s a smaller version of his brother, basically,” an American League area scout said. “He’s strong, he’s physical, he can run, but it was kind of a surprise to me that he was in your Top 100, to be honest with you. I’m not sure he belongs there.”
Another scout said Dixon has gone backwards from where he was in the summer and mostly attributed it to the mental part of his game and his makeup. He said Dixon plays as if he doesn’t care and thinks everything should just be handed to him.
As an undersized player at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds, he’s going to get limited chances anyway and playing without discernible passion certainly won’t help his cause. On top of that, he was 84-88 mph with his fastball in a recent start and couldn’t find the strike zone.
Blake Forsythe, c, Tennessee
After hitting a robust .347/.486/.663 last year, Forsythe is off to as slow of a start as anybody this year. The younger brother of Padres prospect Logan Forsythe, he has a somewhat similar profile to his brother with the added bonus of playing catcher. However, the younger Forsythe, like the 11-10 Volunteers, is off to a disappointing start, hitting .215/.395/.385 over his first 65 at-bats.
“Right now he’s really messed up at the plate,” a National League area scout said. “He’s trying to be a big power guy and he has that in there; you watch BP and he’s launching balls all over the place—wood bat, aluminum bat, it doesn’t matter. But, when he’s had most of his success, it’s been more of an up-the-middle approach and he’ll run into a ball here and there and he’s gotten away from that. He’s trying to pull everything and he’s out of sync at the plate. It’s not really the type of season he’d be hoping for.”
The struggles are also carrying over to his defensive game.
“He’s always been a little inconsistent defensively,” the scout said. “He has the arm strength to be a solid catch-and-throw guy, but his feet and his upper half are out of sync behind the plate too. His feet are quicker than his hands right now, so his accuracy and arm strength is suffering a little bit. He still has a lot of tools you like, but the performance hasn’t really shown up yet.”
CONTRIBUTING: Aaron Fitt and Nathan Rode