CARY, N.C.—The 2012 Tournament of Stars, a showcase tournament organized by USA Baseball as the first step in the selection of its 18-and-under national team, was below-average from a talent perspective, even in an overall down year for high school talent.
For example, not a single player from Georgia, which produced four of the 10 high school position players taken in the 2013 first and supplemental first round, attended TOS last year.
This year’s crop was better, with pitching as the strength. The top fastball velocity recorded at last year’s event was 93 mph, by two players. This year, nine players hit 93 mph, and three hit 95 or better, led by No.1 prospect Tyler Kolek, who hit 97. Here are the Top 10 Prospects from the event, listed with their high schools as well as their travel teams. The Top 10 is followed by 25 reports on quality prospects at the event; those players are listed alphabetically.
1. Tyler Kolek, rhp, Shepherd (Texas) HS/Houston Heat
Kolek broke his non-throwing arm early in his junior season. He resumed throwing in early May and within a month his 91-94 mph velocity jumped to 97, and he touched 99 mph at an Area Code Games tryout. The 6-foot-6, 250-pound Kolek has strength throughout his extra-large frame, long levers and athleticism, garnering Division I scholarship offers as a defensive end. A Texas Christian signee, he delivers his fastball from a three-quarters arm slot, giving it heavy boring action and good downhill plane. Both his low-80s slider and mid-70s curveball show plus or better potential, with the curveball showing more promise.
2. Jacob Gatewood, ss/3b/of, Clovis (Calif.) High/SGV Arsenal
The 6-foot-5, 190-pound Gatewood has a lanky, projectable physique with a high waist and long limbs. He uses a toe tap, pronounced weight transfer and quick hands to generate some of the best raw power in the class. Gatewood put on a show in batting practice, hitting balls off the batter’s eye in center field and into the trees well beyond left field. He has an aggressive, pull-oriented approach. Gatewood has a strong arm and has displayed low-90s velocity on the mound . A shortstop currently, Gatewood’s size will likely push him off the position, as will his average-to-tick above speed. The Southern California signee has a strong chance to become a first-round pick like his father, Henry, the 11th selection in the January 1982 draft.
3. Luis Ortiz, rhp, Sanger (Calif.) High/San Diego Show
After losing 35 pounds in the last year, Ortiz has a strong, durable 6-foot-3, 210-pound build with strength in his lower half. Pitching exclusively from the stretch, the Fresno State signee looks effortless producing 92-95 mph velocity and sustains his velocity well. He reportedly hit 97 in early June. Ortiz gets good sink and armside run from his tick above three-quarters arm slot. He consistently throws strikes and has feel for multiple offspeed pitches. His low-80s slider with tight rotation has the makings of a plus pitch. A mid-80s changeup with tumble flashes average or better.
4. Braxton Davidson, 1b/of, Roberson High, Asheville, N.C./Dirtbags
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Davidson has a large frame with wide shoulders and a strong lower half. Using a wide base and deep hand load, Davidson produces raw plus power, which is his carrying tool. With three home runs in four games, he tied the TOS record and hit more home runs than all of the players at last year’s TOS combined (two). Folklore grew that one homer bounced onto a highway more than 500 feet away. His prodigious power does come at the expense of swings and misses. With adequate speed and arm strength, the North Carolina commit could play an outfield corner, but profiles best at first base.
5. Brady Aiken, lhp/of, Cathedral Catholic, San Diego/San Diego Show
At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds with broad shoulders and room to carry more weight, Aiken has an ideal pitcher’s build. He has a quick arm, clean arm action and hides the ball well from a high three-quarters arm slot. His fastball sits 89-92 mph and will touch 93 with downhill plane. Aiken has a curveball with tight 1-to-7 rotation, making it one of the best breaking balls in the class at its best. His low-80s with fade changeup shows the makings of an above-average offering. Aiken repeats his fluid delivery well and has good control. He is a two-way player as an outfielder. Aiken, a UCLA commit, is young for the class and will be 17 on draft day.
6. Sean Reid-Foley, rhp, Sandalwood High, Jacksonville/FTB Chandler
For just the second time in the last 20 years, Florida produced only one high school pitcher in the first three rounds of the 2013 draft. Reid-Foley is one of several pitchers who could be drafted in that range in 2014 after showing 91-94 mph velocity with good glove-side run. The 6-foot-3, 208-pound Reid-Foley has a quick arm, and the ball jumps at hitters because of his athletic delivery with a long stride. His mid-70s curveball has good depth and is Reid-Foley’s best secondary offering. The Florida State signee also has feel for a 78-81 mph slider with sweeping action. His hard changeup lags behind the breaking balls.
7. Jack Flaherty, 3b, Harvard-Westlake, Burbank, Calif./SGV Arsenal
With a balanced base, quiet stride and good bat speed, Flaherty has a natural feel to hit. The righthanded batter is presently a line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter who excels at driving the ball to the right-field gap. His 6-foot-4, 205-pound build portends future power gains as his strength increases and his frame fills. Flaherty, who has signed with North Carolina, has natural actions, fluidity and lateral quickness in the field. He has arm strength that is capable of touching the low 90s on the mound. Flaherty showed above-average speed, with 60-yard times ranging from 6.4 to 6.6 seconds this summer, although his in-game speed does not also play to that level.
8. Derek Hill, of, Elk Grove (Calif.) High/NorCal
The son of former minor leaguer and current Dodgers area scout Orsino Hill, Derek is a student of the game. He ran consecutive 60-yard times on grass at TOS in just under 6.4 seconds, and he is one of the fastest players in the class. He consistently produces home-to-first times in the 4.0-4.1-second range from the right side. Hill, who is uncommitted, is one of the top defensive players in the class and has a knack for making highlight-reel catches. He also has an average present arm. At the plate, Hill has a high hand load, balanced base and short stride. He has quick hands, bat speed and a line-drive oriented approach. Hill has a short stroke conducive to hard contact up the middle and to the gaps. The lean 6-foot-1, 175-pounder with a V-shaped upper body has a discerning eye at the plate and rarely swings and misses.
9. Brandon Murray, rhp, Hobert (Ind.) High/Region Storm
Murray, a South Carolina signee, is another pitcher with elite arm strength. He sits 92-94 mph and touches 95 with above-average armside run from his three-quarters arm slot. Murray has an athletic 6-foot-4, 200-pound build with sloped shoulders, a tapered waist and strong legs that offers projection. His high-70s slider with two-plane break is his best secondary pitch. Although currently inconsistent, his low-80s changeup showed good tumble. He is working on reducing the effort in his delivery, which includes a head whack, and repeating it more consistently.
10. Justus Sheffield, lhp, Tullahoma (Tenn.)/Ohio Warhawks
Sheffield is a year younger than his brother, Jordan, who entered the spring as one of the top high school pitchers and was up to 97 mph before having Tommy John surgery in April. Both brothers are committed to Vanderbilt. Justus Sheffield has a strong, compact 6-foot, 190-pound build and has gotten a little leaner in the last year. His fastball can sit in the 90-92 mph in shorter stints and was up to 94 in the spring. He has an athletic delivery that features a high leg kick and throws from a three-quarter slot. His mid-70s changeup with fade could become an above-average pitch. Sheffield also throws a 75-78 mph breaking ball with three-quarter tilt. A good athlete, Sheffield has also shown potential in center field. Young for the class, Sheffield will turn 18 just prior to the draft.
With so many players participating in the Tournament in the Stars, it would be a shame to limit our list to 10. So here are 25 more players to watch (listed alphabetically) leading up to the 2014 draft:
Spencer Adams, rhp, White County, Cleveland, Ga./Team Elite
The 6-foot-5, 180-pound Georgia commit has a lean, angular frame with wide shoulders and a tapered waist. Adams uses a loose, easy arm action to deliver his fastball at90-92 mph, touching 93. Adams hides the ball well with a compact arm arc and the ball jumps out of his hand. He is a consistent strike thrower and gets armside run and sink from a three-quarter slot. His mid-80s slider has some depth and he mixes in a low-80s changeup. A natural athlete who fields his position well, Adams is capable of above-average run times and has seen some action in center field.
Quinn Brodey, of/lhp, Loyola, Los Angeles/GBG Marucci
Brodey has the ability to excel both on the mound and at the plate. He is a physical presence with a wide back, slightly sloped shoulders and broad chest. Brodey has strength throughout his 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame with trim, muscular legs. He has an effortless, athletic delivery and gets over his front leg well, which allows him to get good downward plane. The Stanford commit, who throws from a three-quarter arm slot, gets natural cutting action from his smooth, clean arm action. He compliments an upper-80s fastball with two secondary offerings that flash average: a mid-70s breaking ball with 1-7 action and depth, and an upper-70s changeup with fade. Brodey has good control. He has a squared, balanced and upright stance and levered swing that produces pull-side power. Brodey has a feel for the barrel in games and plus speed.
Ryan Castellani, rhp, Brophy College Prep, Phoenix/Diamondbacks Elite Scout Team
With broad shoulders and lean legs, Castellani has a tall, athletic and evenly-proportioned 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame that offers projection. Using a full wind-up, Castellani gets downhill plane from his three-quarter arm slot. Over the last year, the UCLA commit has reduced the effort in his delivery and shortened his arm action, producing a loose, whippy arm. Castellani has hit 93 mph and sits 89-91 with his fastball. He has feel for a 78-82 mph changeup with tumble that has the makings of an average pitch and a mid-70s curveball. Castellani has an advanced feel for pitching.
Gregory Deichmann, ss, Brothers Martin, Metairie, La./Marucci Elite
Deichmann has a lean and athletic 6-foot-2, 180-pound build. The lefthanded hitting LSU commit has impressive bat speed and is one of the top power bats in the class. He has raw power to all fields and can put on a show in batting practice, especially to his pull side. With two home runs during TOS, Deichmann matched the total all of 144 players from last year’s event. Deichmann is a fluid, rangy athlete with good lateral actions and defensive prowess. He has turned in a tick above-average 60-yard-dash times this summer and has shown arm strength.
Alex Destino, lhp, North Buncombe, Weaverville, N.C./South Charlotte Panthers
At 6-foot-3, 215-pounds, Destino has a large frame and sturdy build. The South Carolina commit has a smooth, repeatable delivery and easy arm action. His three-quarter arm slot creates deception and downhill plane. He sits 88-91 mph with his fastball and touches 92. Destino shows feel for a 76-78 mph breaking ball with three-quarter tilt and depth. He mixes an 80-82 mph changeup with fade. Destino repeats his delivery well and consistently throws strikes.
Foster Griffin, lhp, The First Academy, Orlando/Orlando Scorpions
At 6-foot-5, 195 pounds, Griffin has a large frame, strong lower half and lanky build that offers projection. With long arms, Griffin gets downhill plane from a high three-quarter arm slot. He has a long arm action that creates natural glove-side run. The Mississippi commit can touch 92 mph and sits 88-91 and offers a 71-74 curveball with three-quarter tilt. His mid-70s changeup with fade might be a better offering. Griffin, who plays travel ball with the Orlando Scorpions, attends The First Academy, which has at least three seniors who could be drafted a year after producing third-round shortstop Ben Deluzio.
Monte Harrison, of, Lee’s Summit West (Mo.)/Marucci Elite
The muscular 6-foot-3, 200-pound Harrison is a physical specimen and one of the best athletes in the class. The three-sport standout—who had scholarship offers from Arkansas, Oregon and Ohio State—recently committed to Nebraska as one of the top wide receiver recruits in the country. He has a plus arm that is one of the best in the class. Harrison produces plus run times with a powerful running style, which could make him a strong defender. He shows balance and bat speed in batting practice and should improve his feel to hit with more game reps. His natural strength portends future power.
Scott Hurst, of, Bishop Amat, La Puente., Calif./San Gabriel Valley Arsenal
Hurst has a compact, athletic build and broad chest at 6-foot, 180 pounds. He has at least an above-average arm and plus speed, giving the Cal State Fullerston commit a chance to be a strong defender. With a simple setup, quiet stride and balanced swing, Hurst has good contact ability and bat speed. Hurst produces surprising pop.
Kel Johnson, of/1b, Homeschooled, Palmetto, Ga./FTB Mizuno
Johnson showed toughness and determination battling through a stomach virus during TOS. He has strength throughout his large 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame. The Georgia Tech commit’s calling card is his bat. Johnson, who has a loud setup with lots of moving parts and unique timing mechanisms for his hands and front leg, has good bat speed with a swing path conducive to power—especially to his pull side. He has above-average raw power and can put on a show in batting practice. The righthanded hitter is faster than quick and has enough arm and speed to handle an outfield corner. Johnson is homeschooled, a rarity for potential pro prospects.
Travis Jones, of/3b, Atascocita, Humble, Texas/Columbia Angels
The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Jones is a tall, long and rangy athlete. He has long levers and room to fill his large frame. Jones, who is also a wide receiver on the football field, moves well laterally and is a long strider with plus straight-line speed. The Texas commit offers an interesting combination of hitting ability and power. He has some loft to his swing and has shown pull-side power. Jones has the athleticism to handle third or the outfield.
Trenton Kemp, of, Buchanan, Clovis, Calif.
Although Kemp’s TOS was truncated because of a minor injury, his talent warrants inclusion on this list. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound Kemp has a compact, muscular and athletic build. Kemp, who did not play baseball as a sophomore to concentrate on football, has explosive athletic ability. A wide receiver that drew interest from a few Pac-12 Conference schools, Kemp has plus speed. From a deep hand load, Kemp has very quick hands, explosive bat speed and some present power. The Fresno State commit should improve his ability to hit in games after time away from the diamond.
Michael Kopech, rhp, Mount Pleasant (Texas)/Dallas Tigers-Vanlandingham
The tall, lean and wiry Kopech offers projection to his 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame. While his velocity has been inconsistent this summer, Kopech is capable of low-90s velocity and has hit 94 mph. He has long arm action but also a quick arm. Kopech, who is uncommitted, is flexible throughout his delivery, featuring a high leg kick up to his shoulders, hip turn and loose arm action. His top secondary offering is a mid-70s curveball that flashes three-quarter tilt and depth.
Turner Larkins, rhp, Martin, Arlington/Dallas Tigers-Vanlandingham
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Larkins is a strongly built Texan with a large frame and a powerful lower half. He has an easy delivery from a high three-quarter arm slot and gets good extension out front. In shorter stints, the uncommitted Larkins is capable of sitting in the low-90s and touching 94 with minimal effort and natural sink. He shows an ability to spin a mids-70s curveball and a high-70s changeup is his third offering.
Keaton McKinney, rhp, Ankeny (Iowa) High/Marucci Elite
At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, McKinney has a physical build with a strong lower half and still has room to grow into his upper body and large frame. With a quick, whip-like arm action from a three-quarter arm slot, McKinney sits 89-92 mph, touching 93. An Arkansas signee, he also throws a two-seamer with above-average armside run and sink and pitches aggressively off his fastball. His low-80s changeup with fade is his most advanced secondary offering. His 76-79 mph slider with tight rotation shows the makings of an average pitch.
Josh Morgan, ss, Orange County Lutheran, Corona, Calif./GBG Marucci
Morgan has a compact, strong and athletic build with physicality in his lower half at 6-foot, 185-pounds. With fluid actions, good lateral quickness and soft hands, Morgan has defensive chops. He has a quick transfer and average arm. More quick than fast, Morgan has average straight-line speed. Using a tall, narrow and slightly open stance, the UCLA commit has a long, aggressive stride. He has a quick, compact line-drive stroke and natural feel for the barrel. A member of GBG Marucci, Morgan has gap power and runs the bases well.
Jacob Nix, rhp, Los Alamitos (Calif.)
With a large frame, wide shoulders and a strong lower half, the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Nix has a durable pitcher’s build. A UCLA commit, Nix has a smooth, easy delivery that looks like he is playing catch. He possesses impressive arm strength and his fastball sits 90-93 mph, touching 94, from a high three-quarter arm slot. He varies the shape and velocity of his 71-75 mph breaking ball that shows two-plane break but lacks power, and he mixes in a mid-80s changeup.
Jonah Patten, rhp, Norwell, Ossian, Ind./Indiana Bulls
Patten has a lean, well-proportioned and athletic build at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds that offers room to fill out. His delivery is athletic, featuring a long stride and good extension out front. The Arkansas commit has a quick arm and has a tick below three-quarter arm slot. Patten can sit 90-91 mph in shorter stints and pitches comfortably in the 88-89 range over more innings. He has a feel for pitching and can mix multiple secondary offerings, a high-70s slider, mid-70s curveball with 11-5 tilt and low-80s changeup.
David Peterson, lhp, Regis Jesuit, Denver/FTB
Colorado has a strong lineage of big, projectable high school pitchers and Peterson is next in line. With broad shoulders and long arms and legs, the 6-foot-6, 215-pound Oregon commit fits the description. Peterson has an easy delivery and hides the ball well from a tick below three-quarter arm slot. His velocity sat in the upper-80s and touched 91 mph with above-average movement. Both his mid-70s curveball and 78-79 mph changeup are in the developmental stages but show promise.
Jakson Reetz, c/of/rhp, Norris, Hickman, Neb./Marucci Elite
At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds with a compact build and powerful lower half, the strong-bodied Reetz is an athletic backstop. Reetz is a three-sport athlete who also plays quarterback and point guard. He has advanced defensive skills behind the plate and a strong arm capable of 1.95-2.00 second pop times. Holding the bat close to his head and using an aggressive stride, Reetz has a quick, line-drive oriented swing and has hit well in games. His natural strength gives him gap power. He has enough speed and athleticism to play the outfield. On the mound, Reetz sits 88-90 mph and touches 91. He is committed to Nebraska, where his father played football.
Carson Sands, lhp, North Florida Christian, Tallahassee, Fla./Orlando Scorpions
Sands was one of two underclassmen to make the 18U team last summer. A large frame, broad shoulders and strong lower half, give the 6-foot-4, 205-pound Sands a projectable body with room to fill out. The Florida State commit sits 88-91 mph and touches 92 with natural cut due to his long arm action. He has feel for a 77-78 mph changeup with fade and deceptive arm speed that flashes average. His mid-70s breaking ball shows two-plane break and depth at its best but is inconsistent. The 18-year-old gets downhill plane from an arm slot above three-quarters. Carson’s young brother Cole, a rising junior with a 90-91 mph fastball, also attended TOS and is one of the top arms in the 2015 class.
Devin Smeltzer, lhp, Bishop Eustace Prep, Voorhees, N.J./Pennsauken American Legion
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Smeltzer has a lean, lanky and angular build with long extremities. With a high waist, broad shoulders and lean legs, Smeltzer offers significant projection. He has a very deceptive delivery and the ball jumps out of his hand. Starting from the far third-base side of the rubber, Smeltzer uses a high leg kickand throws across his body to create deception and movement. He produces good arm speed from a long, loose arm action. Smeltzer’s arm slot, which is typically a tick below three-quarters, varies to create deception. The Florida Gulf Coast commit generally throws in the upper-80s but can sit 89-91 mph in shorter stints. At its best, Smeltzer’s high-70s breaking ball has sharp 1-7 tilt and depth. He will also vary its shape and throw a sweepier version to lefthanders and mixes in a low-80s changeup. Despite many moves parts, Smeltzer repeats his delivery well and has an advanced feel for pitching. Smeltzer sports glasses like fellow lefties Matt Purke, Brett Cecil and Gustavo Chacin.
Chase Vallot, c, St. Thomas, Youngsville, La./Marucci Elite
The 6-foot, 200-pound Vallot has a compact, physical build and muscular lower half. He has a strong arm capable of pop times in the 1.9-2.0 second range. His hands and receiving skills are developing. With a wide base and minimal stride, the strong-bodied backstop produces good raw power. The Mississippi State recruit has good athleticism for the position and has posted average running times to first base. Vallot is one of the youngest players in the class and will not turn 18 until the end of the minor league season next year.
Alex Verdugo, of/lhp, Sahuaro, Tucson, Ariz./Chi Town Cream
The athletic 6-foot-1, 190-pound Verdugo is a promising two-way talent. He has a solid build with sloped shoulders and a strong lower half. On the mound, Verdugo has a quick, loose-and-easy arm action and smooth delivery. His fastball sits 88-91 mph and touches 93 with armside run and some sink from a high three-quarter slot (although he will vary his arm slot depending on the hand of the hitter). His mid-70s breaking ball can show sharp 1-7 tilt at its best and flashes plus. The Arizona State commit compliments with a 79-80 mph changeup. At the plate, Verdugo has an open stance and uses a toe tap. He has a feel for the barrel and generates pull-side power. Verdugo has average to a tick above straight-line speed and an above-average arm from the outfield. Verdugo is young for the class and will turn 18 right before the draft.
Keith Weisenberg, rhp, Osceola, Seminole, Fla./Marucci Elite
With a large frame, broad shoulders and lanky physique, the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Weisenberg is very projectable. From a full arm circle, Weisenberg produces considerable arm strength with ease from a three-quarter slot. The ball jumps out of his hand as it looks like he is playing catch. The Stanford commit sits 90-92 mph and can touch 93 with armside run. Weisenberg shows feel for an 82-84 mph changeup and low-80s breaking ball.
Marcus Wilson, of, Junipero Serra, Los Angeles/SGV Arsenal
Wilson offers projection as he fills his lean, wiry 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame. He has broad shoulders, a tapered waist and leans legs. Wilson, who is uncommitted, has athleticism, fluid actions and plus speed capable of 60-yard-dash times in the 6.5 range and home-to-first times around 4.1. The member of SGV Arsenal has arm strength and defensive prowess in center field. A righthanded hitter, Wilson has good bat speed and has shown the present ability to hit in games. Wilson is young for the class and will not be 18 until two months after the draft.