Three Sets Of Teammates Make This Year's Top 200
Baseball America's Top 200 Draft Prospects list will always succeed at two things: creating debate and yielding interesting factoids.
There are many ways to break down the list, including how many players at each position, how many high school versus college prospects, who is re-entering the draft and are they higher or lower than the previous year?
On the high school side it's interesting to see what schools the prospects play for and if they have a teammate who is a prospect as well. This year's Top 200
has three sets of teammates: righthander Zach Lee and shortstop Matt Lipka from McKinney (Texas) High, righthander Stetson Allie and catcher Alex Lavisky from St. Edward High in Cleveland, as well as outfielder Michael Lorenzen and shortstop Dominic Ficociello from Fullerton (Calif.) Union High. All three pairs made it to the playoffs, but McKinney was eliminated in the first round. St. Edward and Fullerton Union were still alive when Baseball America went to press.
Not only do Lee and Lipka stand out on a baseball field, but they are well known across the state for running over opponents on the football field. Lee, a quarterback, and Lipka, a wide receiver, are both all-state players at their positions.
Lee threw for 2,565 yards and 31 touchdowns in the fall. Of those 31, 22 went to Lipka. They're quite a threatening pair and Lipka says it's been fun being teammates.
"It's kind of cool to see our different personalities on the field," he said. "We went through the college recruiting process together. It's fun for us to watch each other progress."
While Lipka would concentrate on baseball if he ends up at Alabama instead of signing a pro contract, Lee has a scholarship to play under center for Les Miles at Louisiana State. That has made his signability the biggest question mark for teams.
He works with a 90-93 mph fastball and has room for projection on his 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame. He also has a sharp slider and his changeup needs work but flashes some promise.
Lipka is a plus runner capable of a 6.4-second 60-yard dash. He's a quick-twitch athlete and has a strong, 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame. He has strong hands and good bat speed, so he should hit for at least average power. Lipka is athletic enough to play shortstop and has the arm for it as well—he's the No. 2 starter for McKinney and can pitch in the upper 80s.
Lipka says Lee's style reminds him of former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford, the NFL's 2009 No. 1 pick.
"He's a pocket guy, pro style," Lipka said. "He has a good, accurate arm. He just drops back and throws."
He also described Lee as mysterious if you don't know him well, which may lend to the signability questions since he seems to keep to himself. Scouts had some difficulty reaching him during the spring and he didn't return calls for this story.
"Zach is more of the non-verbal type," Lipka said. "He leads by example. I'm more vocal. I like to rally the troops. We're good buds. He's had a girlfriend all through high school but when we hang out it's always fun. We do competitive stuff. He's a ping pong guy."
Lipka recalled his favorite memory of the two of them playing sports with Lee. together was when they were sophomores.During their sophomore year, they were down 28-0 in a football game at the half. McKinney cut the lead to 28-23 in the fourth quarter before Lipka ran a screen to the left and caught a pass from Lee for the winning score.
"It was so humid that I cramped up in the end zone celebrating," Lipka laughed. "That was a good one. Also, when he rolls out, someone is always following him. I like to come back and clean the guy out."
Allie and Lavisky are another pitching-hitting pair in the Top 200. Allie has been considered a thrid-base prospect in the past, but it's hard to look away from two plus pitches on the mound. Allie works with a 93-97 mph fastball that has touched 99 and a power slider at 88-89. The knock against Allie was always his command, but leading up to the draft he made improvements and started climbing draft boards.
"I've been working like crazy," Allie said. "Trying to spot my pitches and working on my offspeed. I've been toning my velo down. I don't need to throw 99 every time. My rhythm has gotten better."
Lavisky is arguably the top all-around catcher among high schoolers. He has a solid, strong frame and good leverage in his swing that produces plus power. If there is one guarantee about him, it's that he can catch velocity.
Lavisky and Allie have been playing together since seventh grade and have a good relationship. Allie says Lavisky calls the game and does a good job of it, also giving his teammate's makeup and leadership skills a good review (Lavisky used to be St. Edward's quarterback before giving up football to concentrate on baseball). He hasn't shied away from getting on Allie if he needs to.
While it's unlikely they'll both play college ball, they could end up facing each other a lot with Allie committed to North Carolina and Lavisky at Atlantic Coast Conference-foe Georgia Tech.
The Lorenzen-Ficociello duo in Southern California is the only pair that is purely an offensive threat.
Lorenzen has the potential to bring five tools to the table. His 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame, coupled with his skill set, has drawn comparisons to Jake Marisnick, another Southern California outfielder who was a third-round pick by the Blue Jays in 2009.
Lorenzen has one of the best throwing arms in this year's class—he's been clocked at 93 mph off the mound and reaches the high 90s from the outfield.
Lorenzen got off to a slow start with the bat this spring, but his production has increased in the second half. Through 89 at-bats he was hitting .461 with six home runs and 29 RBIs.
Ficociello mans shortstop for the Indians and also provides some pop in their lineup. His below-average speed will facilitate a move to third base or the outfield, but that doesn't bother scouts because they're intrigued by his bat.
He's a switch-hitter with different swings from either side. From the right, he has a line-drive approach and an uppercut from the left that produces more fly ball power. He has unusual power for a 6-foot-3, 170-pound frame and does a good job of accelerating the bat at contact. However, his often lack of concentration in the field has frustrated some scouts.
Through 70 at-bats he was hitting .371 with nine home runs and 22 RBIs, which gives head coach Marc Price an intriguing option in his lineup.
"It's fun to bat them back-to-back," he said. "But we've tried to give them both the best opportunity to excel on offense. That means separating them in the lineup. We have a kid in the middle hitting .400. Who are you gonna pitch to?"