Florida usually contributes more players to the first-year player draft than any state other than California and Texas, and that likely will remain the case in 2013. Nevertheless, scouts have panned the quality of Florida’s Class of 2013 at both the college and high school levels.
The prep class had one last chance over the weekend to impress scouts at the Florida Athletic Coaches Association All-Star Baseball Weekend in Sebing, Fla., but the consensus of evaluators who attended is that Sebring just proved what scouts already knew: 2013 is just not the Sunshine State’s year.
• The West team was the strongest with shortstops Oscar Mercado (Gaither HS) and Christian Arroyo (Hernando HS, Brooksville), righthanders Brett Morales (King HS, Tampa) and Tyler Danish (Durant HS, Plant City), catcher Chris Okey (Eustis HS) and outfielder Cord Sandberg (Manatee HS, Bradenton). According to one scout, Mercado ran a 6.4-second 60-yard dash and showed his usual sound defensive skills at shortstop. It was a tough spring for Mercado as he hit just .280, but several scouts have made it a point to consider his last 12 months rather than the last three, as Mercado handled the bat against better competition throughout the summer and fall.
• Tucker Neuhaus (Wharton HS, Tampa) played sparingly this spring due to a leg injury but stood out in Sebring. He played very well defensively at third base and handled shortstop as well. At one point, he took a bad hop off his face and was hit by a pitch, but remained in the game. Nevertheless, his injury-plagued spring has taken a toll on Neuhaus’ body, which has gone backwards since the fall.
• Righthander Dane Dunning (Clay HS, Green Cove Springs) has intrigued scouts with his size and projection, but was considered a tough sign and is now even more likely to wind up at Florida. He’s been 88-91 with this spring with developing secondary stuff, but his velocity was down in Sebring and he only showed flashes of his regular stuff.
• The late-riser in Florida could be righthander Bryan Baker out of Choctawatchee High in Fort Walton Beach, Fla., who flashed 90-94 mph velocity readings in Sebring, with some improvement evident in his iffy breaking ball. Scouts aren’t hot on his arm action, but at 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, he stands out in the prep class for his size, solid athleticism and projection.
Around The Nation
• Righthander Alec Hansen from Loeveland (Colo.) High was already considered a tough sign away from Oklahoma. His parents both have master’s degrees and put a big emphasis on education. Now there’s another bump in the road for teams looking to get a big, power arm. In Hansen’s second-to-last start of the season, he experienced some forearm pain in the fourth inning. He visited Rockies head team physician Tom Noonan the following day, and Noonan diagnosed a muscle strain in his forearm. With his team battling for a chance at the playoffs, Hansen tried to make his next start and was up to 95 mph in the first inning, but his arm stiffened up and he was down to 82 mph in the second inning. Hansen is visiting a physical therapist every day, but likely won’t be heading to any private workouts for teams before the draft. If he ends up honoring his commitment to Oklahoma, Hansen could blossom into a first rounder in three years, as one scout said he could envision him throwing 100 mph some day.
• In an interview at Through The Fence Baseball, Clint Frazier said he is not going to miss going to class.
• Kentucky prep lefthander Hunter Green will be going to workouts for the Braves, Rays and Twins.
• New Jersey prep lefthander Rob Kaminsky is keeping a level head on his shoulders amid all the draft hype. He’s not paying attention to the mock drafts, saying, “People doing mock drafts don’t have a pick.”
• Righthander Chandler Eden from Yuba City (Calif.) High threw a no-hitter to win a Sac-Joaquin section title. The title was Yuba City’s fifth over the last eight years. Eden struck out 14 in the game and didn’t have a ball leave the infield, holding his 92-93 mph velocity from start to finish.