Early Draft Preview: High School Best Tools





BEST ATHLETE:  There are a good number of gifted athletes in this year's crop, but OF Austin Wilson (12) stands out the most. He's a physical specimen with five-tool potential, though it will need to be seen how a stress fracture in his back affects his play this spring. OFs Kevin Jordan (32) and Reggie Golden (23) have good power-speed combinations. OF Ty Linton (35) is also a linebacker that would play both sports if he ends up at North Carolina and RHP Zach Lee (51) is a quarterback committed to Louisiana State.

BEST PURE HITTER: With a quick, powerful swing and a knack for getting the barrel on the ball, OF Josh Sale (6) is the most polished hitter in the class. He's been on the prospect map for a while after hitting for the cycle at the 2008 Area Code Games. 3B Nick Castellanos (8) hit four doubles in the Under Armour game at Wrigley Field. SS Garin Cecchini (14) has a good understanding of the strike zone and consistently puts together quality at-bats. OF Drew Vettleson (19) always seems to get on base and hit well this summer—both for average and power—against top-notch pitching. SS Tony Wolters (22) has a compact swing from the left side and hit .371/.395/.486 for Team USA this summer and was the MVP of the Aflac All-American Game.

BEST POWER: Because Sale has incredible strength to go along with his advanced feel for hitting, he's also the group's best power hitter. SS Yordy Cabrera (9) has been trained by his father, Basilio—a hitting coach in the Tigers organization. RHP/3B Stetson Allie (11) shows his strength on the mound and at the plate. At the East Coast Professional Showcase last summer, he showed his brawn with a broken-bat home run. OFs Wilson and Golden also show good power potential. Both hit home runs in the Under Armour All-American game at Wrigley Field. Wilson's came off of Karsten Whitson (3) and Golden's nearly left the stadium. Castellanos won the home run derby at that event.

FASTEST RUNNER: Virginia OF Mitchell Shifflett (NR) ran the most impressive 60-yard-dashes on the showcase circuit this summer. At Perfect Game's National Showcase in June, he broke Xavier Avery's previous record (6.17 seconds), by running a 6.11. That was on turf and some scouts question the validity of PG's 60 times, but his speed is still a legitimate 80 on the 20-80 scale. He ran a 6.35 at the East Coast Pro Showcase, but he's unranked because speed is his only above-average tool. Other players with impressive 60 times this summer include OFs Ryan Bolden (43, 6.40 at ECPS), Delino DeShields (52, 6.46 at ECPS), Chevez Clarke (18, 6.41 at ECPS) and Jordan (6.63 at ECPS).

BEST DEFENSE: SS Manny Machado (5) is a silky smooth defender at shortstop and one of the rare high school players that projects to stay at the position long-term. Wolters and Cecchini both project to move off the position, but are sure-handed defenders that should be able to handle second base and third base, respectively.

BEST FASTBALL: RHP Jameson Taillon (1) was the highlight of the summer circuit. With a hulking, 6-foot-7, 230-pound frame, Taillon sat in the low-to-mid 90s all summer and touched 96 mph. His fastball has explosive life and he commands the pitch, which helped him strike out the side in both the Under Armour and Aflac All-American games, as well as go 2-0, 0.00 with 28 strikeouts and three walks over 14 innings during Team USA's gold-medal run. Allie has the best pure velocity, getting up to 97, but control is a serious problem. It's a good year for power high school arms and several other righthanders showed impressive heaters this summer. A.J. Cole (2) was mostly 91-93, but touched 95 with room to grow. Whitson and Dylan Covey (4) were also up to 95 at various showcases.

BEST SECONDARY PITCH: Taillon throws both a slider and a curveball, but his curveball is the better of the two at this point. Thrown around 82-83 mph, Taillon's curve has sharp, hard, two-plane break and already grades out as an above-average major league offering. Covey also has a hammer curveball that's between 82-84 mph with good depth. Cole can throw is knuckle-curve for strikes on the inside part of the plate against righties. Whitson has one of the group's best sliders, which has explosive late life.

BEST COMMAND: Taillon repeats his delivery well, especially for a 17-year-old his size. He locates his fastball to all quadrants of the zone and throws his secondary pitches for strikes as well. RHP Drew Cisco (16) can't match the big-time stuff of others on this list, but what he lacks in pure stuff, he more than makes up for in pitchability. Drew's grandfather is former big leaguer and Phillies pitching coach Galen Cisco, and his brother Mike pitches in the Phillies system, so he's had good coaching. Whitson and Cole also show good command and poise on the mound.

MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND: Although Vettleson is a better prospect as a power-hitting outfielder, he's also an ambidextrous pitcher that was Washington's Gatorade player of the year last year. OF Brian Ragira (30) is Kenyan. Stefan Sabol's (10) cousin is Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and several of the players in the Top 100 have baseball relatives. In addition to Cabrera, Cisco and DeShields, there's RHP Cam Bedrosian (15), whose father is Steve; SS Connor Narron (76), whose father is Jerry and SS/OF Kellen Sweeney (74), whose brother is Ryan.

CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: With the best fastball, best breaking ball and best control, it shouldn't be a surprise that Taillon is also the closest to the majors. Cabrera could be put on a faster timetable than most high schoolers, because of his advanced age. Cisco's pitchability could make him move quickly and Sale's advanced bat could do the same.

HELIUM POTENTIAL: OF Angelo Gumbs (46) is a good athlete that has some strength in his hands and really knows how to hit. He also has age on his side, as he was born a week after Bryce Harper. RHP Tyrell Jenkins (81) was described as a "freak athlete" with a huge wingspan and could shoot up draft boards as a hard-thrower from Texas. Catchers always go good and Alex Lavisky (56) will get a lot of attention since he plays on the same high school team as Allie. It's a strong year in the northeast and OF Mark Podlas (83) could move up boards as lefthanded, athletic outfielder from New York.