The two highest-level Junior College World Series feature several prominent draft prospects. The NJCAA Division I tournament, which begins Saturday in Grand Junction, Colo., is headlined by CC of Southern Nevada catcher Bryce Harper, the presumed No. 1 overall pick who’s hitting .442/.524/.986 after bashing four homers (giving him 29 on the season) in the district championship game.
CCSN also has several intriguing pitchers who could go in the first 10 rounds, led by righthanders Donn Roach and Tyler Hanks. So does San Jacinto (Texas), starting with righthander Clay Schrader and lefty Miguel Pena. State College of Florida lefty Alex Burgos’ polish could put him in the same range in the draft.
The Division II tourney, set to start Saturday in Enid, Okla., features the top defensive shortstop in the draft (Western Oklahoma State’s Andrelton Simmons, who also can reach the mid-90s on the mound) and one of the best juco arms available (Louisiana State-Eunice righthander Tony Dischler). LSU-Eunice lefty Mitchell Hopkins had a chance to crack the first five rounds, but he has missed the last two months after straining his deltoid while lifting weights.
- How does Manny Machado stack up versus other high school shortstops, such as Tim Beckham, who were high draft picks?
Eleven shortstops were drafted in the first 10 picks of the draft in the last decade: Luis Montanez (Cubs, No. 3, 2000), B.J. Upton (Rays, No. 2, 2002), Scott Moore (Tigers, No. 8, 2002), Drew Meyer (Rangers, No. 10, 2002), Matt Bush (Padres, No. 1, 2004), Chris Nelson (Rockies, No. 9, 2004), Justin Upton (No. 1, 2005), Troy Tulowitzki (No. 7, 2005), Mike Moustakas (No. 2, 2007), Tim Beckham (No. 1, 2008) and Gordon Beckham (No. 8, 2008). Moore, Justin Upton, Moustakas and Gordon Beckham weren’t projected as shortstops, however, and all moved to different positions by the end of their first full pro seasons.
Machado draws some Alex Rodriguez comparisons because he’s a high school shortstop from south Florida. That’s a ridiculous stretch, but Machado is an extremely talented player who should go in the top five picks of the 2010 draft. He has average to plus tools across the board: plus bat, average power, solid defense, plus arm, average speed.
That package compares favorably to the other true shortstops taken with top-10 choices in the 2000s. The most analogous players to Machado were Beckham, who had the same toolset, and Nelson, who had the same gifts and slightly better speed.
B.J. Upton had the best pure tools of the bunch, while Tulowitzki had more power and more polish than Machado. Machado had a significantly better bat than Bush or Meyer (who was a terrible overdraft), and he had a better chance to stay at shortstop than Montanez or Meyer.
- Who are the top Pennsylvania prospects in the draft? Will Jesse Biddle or Sean Coyle be the first player picked, or will it be a college player?
The safe bet is that Pittsburgh third baseman Joe Leonard will be the first Pennsylvania player drafted in June. He had a huge .436/.492/.678 regular season, and he has a legitimate bat with a chance for average power and solid defense at the hot corner.
A pair of high school players could go ahead of Leonard. Two weeks before the draft, it seems like 100 players are mentioned as possible late-first-round or sandwich picks, and Coyle and Biddle fall in that class. Coyle, a shortstop at Germantown Academy (Fort Washington), has a potent bat, including surprising pop for a 5-foot-8, 175-pounder. Biddle, a product of Germantown Friends High (Philadelphia), is one of the best prep lefthanders in the draft, throwing a low-90s fastball and flashing a plus slider.
Another interesting Pennsylvania player is Villanova outfielder Matt Szczur, who recently made news by donating bone marrow to save a 19-month-old girl’s life (click here
for Aaron Fitt’s story). Szczur was MVP of the football championship subdivision title game as a wide receiver, accounting for 270 yards in a 23-21 defeat of Montana. His top-of-the-line speed and makeup intrigue scouts, though the rest of his game needs refinement.
- The Twins usually draft college command pitchers and toolsy high school outfielders. They had success last year by drafting an injured Kyle Gibson, and I was wondering if you think they could go the same route in 2010 by snagging Virginia Tech righthander Jesse Hahn and Tulane third baseman Rob Segedin. Both have injury histories and plenty of upside. Do you see these players being available when Minnesota makes its early-round selections?
The Twins’ first two choices are Nos. 21 and 71, and Hahn and Segedin have a good chance to be available with those picks. Hahn has battled kidney stones, stiffness in his back and forearm tightness recently, but if he gets a clean bill of health he might go before Minnesota’s first-rounder. Hahn’s control and command have significantly improved this spring, and he has a lively low-90s fastball and promising breaking stuff.
Segedin has been completely healthy after back and shoulder problems caused him to redshirt a year ago. He’s one of the better college bats in the draft, and he made consistent line-drive contact during a .434/.516/.788 season. He’s not the most rangy third baseman, but he gets the job done defensively and could fill a position of need for the Twins.