With only 27 days until the draft,
we’re starting to look at players moving up and down draft boards every
Wednesday. Here are six players making some noise right now . . .
Jabari Blash, of, Miami-Dade (Fla.) JC
Looking for a raw, five-tool talent? Jabari Blash is your man. The Virgin Islands product didn’t even start for Miami-Dade JC when the season began but had 10 homers in his first 99 at-bats. Blash is a premium athlete whose best tool is his 70 arm, and at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, he’s a tool shed with untapped above-average ability across the board. He’s green, having played little in his homeland and having missed the 2008 season as an academic casualty at Alcorn State, but he’s making up for lost time and the lack of position-player talent this year could push him into the top five rounds.
Chad Jenkins, rhp, Kennesaw State
Jenkins entered the year as a first-five rounds selection, but he’s steadily climbed the charts and now has a chance to be selected in the first 15 picks, and he’s been linked to the Nationals at No. 10 overall. Jenkins’ velocity has been consistent most of the season, sitting at 91-93 mph usually and touching as high as 96. He was a pitchability guy coming into the year, but now he’s a pitchability guy with above-average stuff, as well as durable 6-foot-4, 225-pound body. Teams that like him project him as a mid-rotation starter who may not need much time to matriculate in the minors, further hastening his move up draft boards.
Victor Black, rhp, Dallas Baptist
A 41st-round pick by the Mets out of Amarillo (Texas) High in 2006, Black decided to instead honor his commitment to Dallas Baptist. As a sophomore last year, he wasn’t particularly impressive, going 1-6, 4.97 with 56 strikeouts and 46 walks over 71 innings. He’s been much more impressive this season for the Patriots and has passed several players, now looking like top college pick in Texas. Armed with a fastball that consistently hits 95 mph every time out, Black has been sitting 93-96. The pitch is fairly straight and his command wavers, but scouts like the velocity and Black’s 6-foot-4, 205-pound frame. His slider is inconsistent, but is a solid pitch when it’s on and he’s working on a changeup as well. Over his first 14 games this year, Black is 6-3, 3.80 with 91 strikeouts and 36 walks over 85 innings.
Kyrell Hudson, of, Evergreen HS, Vancouver, Wash.
Strictly on pure athleticism, Hudson rates as one of the best in this year’s class. He’s a lean but strong 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds. His best tool is his speed, as he runs a 6.4-second 60-yard dash and can get from home to first in 4.3 seconds. If he attends Oregon State, it’ll be for both baseball and football. The biggest question with Hudson is if he’ll ever hit. He’s very raw, looks hopeless against good pitching and struggles to square balls up even in batting practice. There are more non-believers than believers and, as one scout put it: “I’ve still never seen a guy steal first base.” On top of that, Hudson has been aloof this spring, forgetting his jersey or showing up late to games. When he does show up on time, he sits in the dugout while his teammates shag flyballs and doesn’t show any fire. As a definite project, scouts question whether he has the desire to make himself better and worry that he’d be overwhelmed by the grind of a minor league season.
Austin Maddox, c, Eagle’s View Academy, Jacksonville
At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Maddox is an ox with two big tools—raw power and arm strength. However, the game doesn’t come easy to him, he lacks fluidity, and the rest of the prep catchers in Florida have caught up to him or passed him on many boards. Florida is loaded with prep backstops. Want defense? Take Steve Baron. Need power? Try Michael Ohlman. Need a little of both? How about Mike Zunino, or J.R. Murphy? Maddox hasn’t had a great spring, and he’s not looking great by comparison to his competition.
Rich Poythress, 1b, Georgia
In a year where teams are looking for college bats, Poythress should still go high, perhaps in the back of the first round and second round at the latest. However, Poythress has slumped a bit of late, and it’s looking more like the back of the first round for him than the top half. Some scouts have questioned his ability to hit quality pitching, and the numbers bear that out. While he’s hitting a robust .375 in SEC play with nine homers, Poythress has done most of that damage on Saturdays and Sundays. Against the league’s top pitchers on Friday nights, he’s not fared as well. On the surface his nine games on SEC Fridays seems outstanding—.429, two homers, four doubles, and an 8-7 BB-K mark. But four of his 15 hits—including both homers and two doubles—came in one game, against Tennessee. In his last six Fridays, Poythress is 8-for-24 with two doubles, six strikeouts, six walks and no homers. He didn’t far well against good velocity this past Friday, as Vanderbilt freshman Sonny Gray helped hold him to a 1-for-4 night. Poythress remains one of the ’09 draft class’ best hitters, but the consensus seems to be that he’s a good hitter, rather than an elite bat.