The National High School Invitational brought together a supremely talented collection of players. The top arms were highlighted in the daily recaps. Here is how the top position players fared in Cary, N.C.
|Cole Tucker||PA||AB||H||XBH||BB||K||AVG||OBP||SLG||Swings||Whiff Rate|
Tucker is one of the fastest-rising high school position players and had a strong showing in Cary, standing out because of his strong bat-to-ball skills, improved speed, projection and aptitude for the game. Tucker was a mainstay on the showcase circuit, but his skill set shows best in game action.
A switch-hitter who is a natural lefthanded hitter who began hitting righthanded two years ago, Tucker has a quick, compact and line-drive stroke that works inside the baseball. His swing has changed since the showcase circuit, as Tucker has used a wider base this spring and is less upright. He has also moved to a more conventional stride. Tucker showed impressive contact ability by not swinging and missing once at the event, which was not true of any other draft prospect. Tucker showed aggressiveness early in the count, squaring up pitches. His level swing path may limit his gap power but Tucker offers considerable physical projection as a high-waisted, long-limbed 6-foot-3, 175-pound player with an athletic, lanky build.
“He is a pure projection guy,” a National League scouting director said. “He is so long and lanky now you have no idea what the body will look like in a few years. He has a chance to get a lot stronger and hit for a lot more pop when he does compared to today.”
The Arizona commit is a long strider who showed average speed to a tick above on the showcase circuit that was better underway. Tucker posted three runs times between 4.10-4.15 seconds as a lefthanded hitter. The high-energy, scrappy Tucker showed his aptitude for the game and increased speed when he hit a hustle double to right field, running 4.21 on the wide turn.
Tucker has the potential to remain at shortstop with soft hands, first-step quickness and athletic actions.
“You think he is trying to be flashy at shortstop with his actions during warmups but after watching him for a while you realize that he isn’t, he just has supreme body control,” a National League scout said. “He has a chance to play short with the body control, the arm and the actions. He really showed well.”
Mountain Pointe’s second all-time four-year starter is young for the class and won’t be 18 until a month after the draft.
|Adam Haseley||PA||AB||H||XBH||BB||K||AVG||OBP||SLG||Swings||Whiff Rate|
Although Haseley was a hitting star for USA Baseball’s 18-and-under National team, leading the World Cup in batting average with a .484/.515/.800 line, some teams preferred him on the mound while others preferred him as a position player entering the spring. His strong showing with the bat at the NHSI makes it more likely he will be a position player after being an offensive catalyst for the champion Royals.
The lefthanded-hitting Haseley laced as many hard line drives seemingly as any other player at the NHSI. With a line-drive oriented bat path, Haseley peppered the pull field and up the middle. Haseley has an unconventional setup at the plate, hitting with nearly a dead hand start and a short stride. But he has strong athleticism and hand-eye coordination, although he showed some swing and miss. He also possesses strike-zone recognition and works deep counts, evidenced by three walks against zero strikeouts.
Despite throwing one of the best games at the event when he tossed a complete game two-hitter with nine strikeouts, Haseley’s velocity was down like most warm weather pitchers at the event. Haseley, who ran his fastball up to 92 mph at Jupiter with deception and life, has been 88-91 this spring but was mostly 85-88 in Cary.
Haseley, who was a plus runner in the 60-yard dash last summer, has posted run times below that speed this spring. He is a solidly-built athlete at 6-foot, 176 pounds. Because he has limited power potential and a commitment to a strong academic school that typically returns its commits, Virginia, some teams view Haseley as a good player who will make it to school. But his hitting exploits did impress on the biggest stage.
|Jacob Gatewood||PA||AB||H||XBH||BB||K||AVG||OBP||SLG||Swings||Whiff Rate|
Gatewood is one of the more famous prospects in the class after playing in both summer All-American games and winning two home run derbies in big league stadiums. A plus athlete with plus-plus power, Gatewood faced questions about his hitting ability and ability to impact the baseball in game action.
A matchup between Gatewood and Gainesville’s Michael Gettys attracted an estimated 100 scouts set up down the right field line (including more than half of the scouting directors) to see the two righthanded hitters with loud tools and questions about their hitting ability. He had two swings and misses in that game although he only had one more in the remaining three games.
Gatewood has altered his swing from the summer, loading his hands from a higher launching point this spring after using a deeper hand pump last summer. The Southern California commit also used about four different strides last summer, but was much more consistent with his stride at the NHSI, only occasionally reverting back to a toe tap. The 18-year-old Gatewood also used the opposite field more, although he did not create much hard contact.
“He is making developmental strides with his hit tool, although they haven’t been revolutionary,” an American League scout said. “He has really toned down the hitch in his load that caused a lot of the swing and miss from last summer. We are starting to see a better approach and he is beginning to use the opposite field more after being very pull-happy on the showcase circuit. Now we just need to see more those things.”
He was off balance on a few swings, though he made contact.
“I am not sure how much natural rhythm and timing he has as a hitter and there is length to his swing,” the NL scout said. “But his hands are special and you can’t teach that.”
The righthanded-hitting Gatewood ran a 4.19 on a single to the right side, but also ran above a 4.50 on a swing to his pull side.
He is a fluid athlete with an above-average arm who will likely move to third base as a professional with an athletic 6-foot-4, 193-pound build that will accommodate additional strength gains.
|Michael Gettys||PA||AB||H||XBH||BB||K||AVG||OBP||SLG||Swings||Whiff Rate|
Arguably the toolsiest high school position player, Gettys has four tools that could be at least plus. But the righthanded-hitting Gettys faced questions about his hit tool entering the spring, despite evident bat speed, after struggling to hit on the showcase circuit.
Gettys significantly changed his swing entering the spring but the alterations did not result in an improved showing of his hit tool. He swung and missed on 25 percent of his swings, the highest rate of any draft prospect at the NHSI, and struck out more times (three) than he walked (one). Most of his swinging strikes came when expanding the strike zone, typically away.
Gettys had one hit at the event, a single, mostly hitting ground balls to his pull side and fly balls to the opposite field.
Entering the spring, Gettys made mechanical alterations to his swing. On the showcase circuit he occasionally barred out at the plate with his hands loading at shoulder height. The Georgia commit now begins with his hands set lower, although that does create some bat wrap and length to his swing. Gettys is also using a more conventional stride this summer after using a rocker stride last summer.
“I question the hitter’s instincts and feel to hit,” a National League scout said. “He has more strength than balance in his swing. But everything starts with balance for hitters. Somebody is going to take the tools and hope they can teach him to hit.”
On two groundouts, Gettys ran 4.15 and 4.22.
Despite the questions about his hit tool, Gettys is an explosive athlete with the potential to be a plus defender in center with a top-of-the-scale arm. His skill set gives him the potential to be an impact player with development.
“Power-speed athletes gets pushed up boards because it is such a coveted skill-set,” an American League scout said. “Every team is afraid of missing on the next Mike Trout.”
|Josh Morgan||PA||AB||H||XBH||BB||K||AVG||OBP||SLG||Swings||Whiff Rate|
Although Morgan had only one hit in Cary, he only swung and missed on 9.5 percent of his swings, an above-average rate. Morgan showed a good approach at the plate with three walks against one strikeout. He was plunked three times, limiting his chances to do offensive damage.
Morgan, who has quick hands at the plate with above-average bat speed, handled velocity well against Touki Toussaint, driving a 94 mph fastball nearly to the warning track in left field.
“Morgan is a good player with instincts for the game and a good swing,” an American League crosschecker. “Sometimes his swing and get a little big and his stride can as well. But it’s hard not to like the bat.”
The UCLA commit is a smooth, athletic defender with soft hands and an arm that is at least average, capable of throwing from different angles. His straight-line speed has improved to above-average in the 60-yard dash. In the game against Toussaint, Morgan did not make a backhand play in the hole, although he showed well in other facets defensively.
Despite his defensive acumen, multiple evaluators said that Morgan will likely fit best as a second baseman, although he will likely be given the chance to stick at short.
|Braxton Davidson||PA||AB||H||XBH||BB||K||AVG||OBP||SLG||Swings||Whiff Rate|
One of the top bats in the high school crop, Davidson seemingly has a different offensive profile than last summer after making mechanical alterations to his swing.
Davidson, who has plus raw power, showed some swing and miss on the showcase circuit, as well as big in-game power. The North Carolina commit narrowed his stance this spring and is using larger stride after employing a minimal one last summer. With plus bat speed, Davidson is showing the ability to drive the ball to the opposite-field gap and has seemingly taken strides forward as a hitter.
“It seems like Braxton felt he needed to eliminate the swings and misses and use the whole field, and that is what he is doing,” an American League crosschecker said. “Braxton is turning into a little better hitter and is showing that he can go up the middle and the other way. Some guys are starting to think that Braxton might be better known for his hit tool than his power.”
He swung and missed on 10.5 percent of his swings at NHSI, a vast improvement from last summer, albeit against a different caliber of competition. Davidson demonstrated patience and knowledge of the strike zone, walking five times (29 percent) in 17 plate appearances against a lone strikeout (six percent).
His body underwent a transformation over the offseason, losing an estimated 10-15 pounds, mostly through his legs, hips and core.
The 6-foot-1 Davidson’s defensive destination is a question with below-average speed and a fringe-average arm. First base has long been his assumed landing spot, with left field as the other option. But scouts said said that he has struggled in the infield, where the game speeds up on him.
|Isiah Gilliam||PA||AB||H||XBH||BB||K||AVG||OBP||SLG||Swings||Whiff Rate|
A member of the 2015 class until a few weeks ago when he was declared draft-eligible for 2014, Gilliam was priority viewing for scouts because they had little track record with him until a few weeks ago. A third baseman up until this year when he moved to first base, Gilliam’s meal ticket will be his bat.
“It is a great body, a body that makes you take notice before he even steps on the field,” the director said. “He has bat speed, natural strength and took some pretty good swings at the NHSI. There is a lot to like there.”
The switch-hitter has above-average bat speed and plus power to his pull side. From an open stance, Gilliam showed some feel to hit at the NHSI, with only one swing and miss and a few line drives back up the middle. His lower half was inconsistent in his swing and he did not create optimal rotational force with his lower half, but has the physical tools to do so.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Gilliam has broad shoulders, a high waist and large, strong legs. He posted below-average run times of 4.38 and 4.42 from the left side of the plate. His reclassification makes the 17-year-old Gilliam young for the class.
The final two months leading up to the draft will be key for Gilliam as evaluators bear down on a player with whom they have very little history.