Draft Tracker: May 11
With the draft less than a month away, we're all knee deep in draft calls here at Baseball America headquarters. As we're putting our Draft Preview issue together, here are five names popping up as potential second round picks or better. . .
Larry Greene, of, Berrien County HS, Nashville, Ga.
Georgia's top two position players in the high school class—which doesn't approach last year's mother lode—provide a stark contrast, even though both are outfielders. The highest-profile hitter in the state is Dwight Smith, son of the big leaguer of the same name, who has solid all-around tools, with his pure hitting ability as his carrying tool. However, his season is done. Greene, who has carried Berrien County to the Georgia 2-A state playoffs, is much more physical at 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, and has some of the best raw power available in the draft. He's even earned some Albert Belle comparisons for his size and sheer physicality. While he's an average runner underway, he's not a fluid athlete, and his best-case scenario defensively is in left field. Some scouts think he might even be relegated to first base.
He has the raw power to fit the corner profile, and some scouts believe it's enough to carry him. Clubs that believe in Greene's hit tool think he'll get to his power enough to hit 25-30 homers annually. Teams that place more value on individual workouts could be more likely to jump Greene up their draft boards, because he has the power to make even big league parks look small in BP.
"I'm not turning him in there," one National League area scout said, "but he's the kind of guy who could have a big workout and jump up there. It's a down year in Georgia—they can't all be like last year—but he's one of the guys everyone is running in to see."
Tyler Gibson, ss, Stratford HS, Macon, Ga.
Georgia had a historic draft year in 2010, with six first-round picks out of the state—five from the prep ranks alone. There are hardly five high school players considered likely to sign in the first 10 rounds this year, but Gibson has stamped himself as one of the better bets to go along with Larry Greene. Both are south Georgia products who face small-school competition and regularly punish it. While Greene may go higher because of his raw power—which one scouting director said was the best in the entire draft—Gibson has a better all-around game.
The son of Mercer head coach Craig Gibson, Gibson has a smooth lefthanded swing with a classic high finish and plus raw power potential. He combines good bat speed, improved strength and good balance with plenty of leverage. With broad shoulders, he should fill out his 190-pound frame and has added 15 pounds since last summer, when he was sidelined by an automobile accident that kept him off the showcase circuit. He returned in October and hit two home runs in Jupiter at the World Wood Bat event and hasn't looked back.
Gibson verbally committed to Louisiana State as a junior but wound up signing with Georgia Tech, which had to move freshman Mott Hyde off shortstop this season in favor of Jacob Esch. With the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Esch potentially a good draft as a pitcher, Gibson has become a vital recruit for the Yellow Jackets, who would play him at short. Pro evaluators don't consider Gibson a fit at short, and projecting him at third base can be a challenge if he keeps getting bigger. He runs well enough (6.7-seconds in the 60) to move to an outfield corner and could hit well enough to man either spot.
Chris Reed, lhp, Stanford
Last year was the first time since 1999 that Stanford didn't have a player selected in the first five rounds of the draft. That won't happen again this year because of Reed, who could go as high as the sandwich round.
Reed has always been listed at 6-foot-4 and 190 pounds, but scouts say he's growing into his body and has gained some strength from last year to this year. His fastball varies—some nights he's 89-91 mph, but others he's 92-94 and he's touched as high as 96. He'll show a power slider and also flashes an above-average changeup, but all of his stuff needs to show more consistency.
That should come with experience—Reed's collective innings total at Stanford is at 60 and he's only started one game, but his size, athleticism and three pitch mix will tempt teams to give him a shot as a starter in pro ball.
Evan Marshall, rhp, Kansas State
While it was Kansas closer Colton Murray who entered the season with a little more hype—and still projects to be a good pick himself this June—it's Marshall that looks like he'll be first off the board when it comes to Sunflower State relievers.
Kansas State hasn't had a player drafted in the top two rounds since 1972, but Marshall could very well change that this year and go off the board in the second round. He sits 93-94 mph with his fastball and touches a little higher, complementing the heat with an outstanding slider. The power combo has helped him strike out 41 hitters over 48 innings this season and maintain a shiny, 1.86 ERA. He's also shown the ability to bounce back well.
"I've seen him throw 96 on back-to-back days," a National League scout said. "He has a better slider than Murray, but Murray has a better delivery. Marshall has more effort and flies open."
Michael Fulmer, rhp, Deer Creek HS, Edmond, Okla.
Dylan Bundy and Archie Bradley are hogging the spotlight in Oklahoma, but they aren't the only pitchers in the state that will be high picks a month from now.
Fulmer, an Arkansas commit, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, but scouts think he's closer to 200. He was mostly 89-91 last summer, but he's taken things up a notch this spring.
"I've seen him 94-96 (mph), and he was 96 the last time out for me," a National League area scout said. "He's also shown a 78-80 slider. I'm hearing sandwich round on him now. It's a softer body, but it's a very good arm."
Contributing: Jim Callis, Conor Glassey & John Manuel