USA Baseball’s National High School Invitational attracts attention both for its on-field results as well as the performances of its top players.
We already know that plenty of premium talent will be showcased in this year’s event, and one of the best parts about the NHSI will be when fans and scouts get their first look at a breakout player. Last year it was Ryan McMahon. This year, McMahon is one of the players scouts know they’ll keep their eyes on. Here we break down the top prospects at the NHSI who will be eligible for the 2012 draft, with their rank in Baseball America’s High School Top 100 in parentheses. Check out the underclassmen—listed alphabetically—for breakout candidates.
1. Austin Meadows: of, Grayson HS, Loganville, Ga. (No. 1 in BA Top 100)
Standing 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Meadows looks like a better version of David Dahl, who went 10th overall to the Rockies in 2012. Meadows is a better runner, grading out as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. The Clemson commit who spends his summers with Team Elite shows excellent bat speed at the plate without compromising balance.
2. Jordan Sheffield: rhp, Tullahoma (Tenn.) HS (No. 7)
Sheffield has a slender, athletic build at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds. He sat in the 91-93 mph range most summer before throwing 94-96 mph and touching 97 in the fall. He mixes in a sharp, hammer curveball. He is committed to Vanderbilt.
3. Stephen Gonsalves: lhp, Cathedral Catholic HS, San Diego (No. 13)
Gonsalves has a projectable build at 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds. He creates downward angle to the plate with his 88-92 mph fastball and can spot it to all quadrants of the strike zone. He is committed to San Diego.
|UNDERCLASSMEN TO WATCH|
|Brady Aiken, lhp, Cathedral Catholic HS, San Diego, 2014: Projectable southpaw at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds has an easy delivery that delivers high-80s fastballs now, and he should add velocity.
Chris Andritsos, if/rhp, The Woodlands (Texas) HS, 2015: Already stands at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and has good power. He also pitches and has a power arm.
Dylan Cease, rhp/ss, Milton (Ga.) HS, 2014: Athletic, projectable two-way player whose future likely will be on the mound. He has a quick arm that can generate low-90s fastballs with sink.
Braxton Davidson, 1b/of, Roberson HS, Asheville, N.C., 2014: Easy, balanced swing and already shows good power. He is athletic and a solid runner, but will likely end up at first base.
Dalton Ewing, of, Milton (Ga.) HS, 2014: Toolsy outfielder who runs well and makes things look easy on the field. He is athletic and fits the center field profile.
Jack Flaherty, 3b/rhp, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif., 2014: Legitimate two-way prospect who profiles as a third baseman as a pro, with plus power potential.
Brandon Perez, ss, Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana, Calif., 2015: Premium defensive skills with good hands and a solid arm; has some growing to do as a hitter, but has a good approach.
John Wesley Ray, rhp, Christian Brothers HS, Memphis, 2014: Projectable righty at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, pitches in the high 80s now, but with an easy delivery that should give him more velocity.
Justus Sheffield, lhp, Tullahoma (Tenn.) HS, 2014: His older brother is leaner and has about an inch on him, but Justus has upside too. He pitches in the 88-92 mph range and should add velocity.
4. Nick Ciuffo: c, Lexington (S.C.) HS (No. 19)
Ciuffo committed to South Carolina as a 14-year-old. He has a strong build at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, with power from the left side of the plate. Ciuffo also showed a good feel for hitting, shows above-average skills behind the plate and plays with an edge.
5. Chris Okey: c, Eustis (Fla.) HS (No. 26)
Okey has an athletic 6-foot, 175-pound frame, and plenty of big-game experience after three summers with the USA Baseball program. Okey stands out as a polished defender behind the plate with offensive upside. He is committed to Clemson.
6. Jeremy Martinez: c, Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana, Calif. (No. 31)
Martinez was one of two underclassmen (along with Okey) on USA Baseball’s 2011 18-and-under team. He stands out for his bat. He shows good leadership on the field, with solid defensive skills and arm strength. He’s committed to Southern California.
7. Ryan McMahon: 3b, Mater Dei HS, Santa Ana, Calif. (No. 66)
McMahon is a starting quarterback for Mater Dei and broke out as a baseball prospect at the NHSI last spring. He has a strong, 6-foot-3, 180-pound build and sweet lefthanded swing. He should profile well at third base when he adds power. Like Martinez, McMahon is committed to Southern California for baseball.
8. Nick Longhi: of, Venice (Fla.) HS (No. 69)
Longhi has a muscular build at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds and is one of the best pure hitters in this year’s high school class. With his size and bat speed, he should develop home run power. He’ll play left field or first base as a pro and is committed to Louisiana State.
9. Thomas Hatch: rhp, Jenks (Okla.) HS (No. 95)
Hatch is a strong righthander with a 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame. He pounds the strike zone with his sinking fastball that sits in the 89-91 mph range and touches 94 mph. Hatch is committed to Oklahoma State.
10. Arden Pabst: c, Harvard-Westlake HS, Studio City, Calif.
Pabst has strong, stocky frame at 6 feet, 200 pounds, with quick feet and an average arm behind the plate. Like most catchers, he’s a below-average runner. He can hit line drives to all fields and has good strength. A Georgia Tech recruit, Pabst has also played third base.