High School Top 50/All-America Chat

Nathan Rode and Matt Blood answered various high school questions

 Q:  Norberto Paulino from New York asks:
Hi, Matt Blood and Nathan Rode. Am from New York and I saw that George Washington High School(24) is in the Top 50 I wanted to ask you guys how good is the team and how good is their C Jean Carlos Rodriguez? also Who are other prospects that we may hear about this upcoming draft?

Nathan Rode: Greetings everyone. The high school season is upon us and its shaping up to be exciting as always. Thanks for joining us in this chat. Matt and I will do our best to answer your questions. Quick note: Texas and California schools start this week, while Florida is already rolling. Eric Hosmer is the hottest so far, with two home runs in his first two games. It didn't take long for opponents to avoid him as he has five walks in his last two games. On to the questions....

Nathan Rode: George Washington has a competitive program and is the alma mater of Manny Ramirez. This team is shaking out to be pretty good. They'll make a run at the city championship (they don't participate in a state tournament). JC Rodriguez will be the center of the team while Fernando Frias will make some noise as well. Their coach has said Frias is "the next Manny." Lofty expectations, but enough to get some attention.

 Q:  Karl of Delaware from Georgetown, Delaware asks:
Derrick Griffin or Griffith of Seaford High School in Delaware was a top 50 high school player per BaseballAmerica. He is a shortstop and I heard he is going to North Carolina. How close did he come to making the 3rd team?

Matt Blood: Hi everyone. Thanks for joining in with Nathan and me. This is my chat debut, and I'm ready to take your best shot. Let's just hope I fare better than Joey Devine. Karl, I believe the player you are referring to is Derrik Gibson. Yes, he is a North Carolina signee and has their coaching staff very excited about having him. Gibson came on strong at the end of the summer. He was most impressive in Jupiter this past October at the WWBA. There were a few other guys in front of him in regards to making the 3rd team, but he is a guy to keep an eye on this season as everyone likes an athletic shortstop with the ability to hit.

 Q:  Tom from San Francisco, CA asks:
Do you have any idea if the Braves are targeting Xavier Avery at this point?

Matt Blood: The Braves do have a tendency to scoop up the Georgia talent, however, I believe Avery is on everyone's target list. He has pure speed and is a great athlete. I do know a team in the state of Georgia that is targeting him for sure - the Georgia Bulldogs. Playing between the hedges in Athens is a tough dream to let go, and be sure that whatever team drafts Avery will be entering into a dual sport contract.

 Q:  Mike Bradley from Orlando, Fl asks:
There has been a lot of hype about Winter Springs HS, here in the Orlando area. They have 8 early signees and 6 of those are D1. The finished up in the top 15 last year. Wondering how they didn't make the top 50?

Nathan Rode: Winter Springs made a good run last year, but got bounced in the state semifinals of the 6-A tournament (highest in Florida). They didn't make the preseason poll this year because there some questions about the team's experience. Only four starters are returning and of the reserves on the 2007 squad, only one player reached double digits in at-bats. However, their two best pitchers are back, so we're not counting them out. They can still certainly gain some momentum and move up the polls as the season plays out.

 Q:  Jeremy from Alabama asks:
I noticed where Casey Kelley is listed as undecided as to what school he intends to sign with. I believe he verbally commited to sign with Tennessee in football. Could he choose another school for baseball and decide to attend that school instead?

Nathan Rode: He has not made a baseball commitment, though I have seen the reports about Tennessee football. He absolutely could choose another school for baseball and end up there. A verbal commitment is just that, verbal. We've seen players de-commit. Kevin Rhoderick, Tim Alderson's high school counterpart ended up changing his mind on going to Georgia and has already made his debut for the two-time champion Oregon State Beavers. It will be interesting to see what Casey decides because he could help schools in both sports.

 Q:  David from Orlando asks:
I heard plenty of good things about MIF David Nick, is he a candidate to go high in the 2009 amateur draft?

Matt Blood: It's early to say, but David Nick is one of the top 30 guys in next year's class. His defense is smooth and he projects to be a good hitter. He's projected to be something close to the fifth middle infielder taken in the '09 draft.

 Q:  Alex from New Hampshire asks:
How is Bobby Bundy from Sperry HS, OK, not an all american? a potential first rounder, i dont see how he was overlooked!!??

Nathan Rode: Easy there sport. These All-America teams are voted on by Major League scouting directors, so I would double-check those first round projections. He did receive a couple of third-team votes, but not nearly enough to crack the first three teams.

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
Where would I have to go in the Chicagoland area to see some good position prospects?

Nathan Rode: Austin Wright is a lefthander from Conant HS in Hoffman Estates, just west of Chicago. St. Rita's also should play some good ball this year. I'd wait for all that snow to clear out first though.

 Q:  Non Roster Invitee from RTP, NC asks:
Hey Nate, What asepcts of evaluating HS players differ from scouting college players? thanks-

Nathan Rode: The biggest difference between college and high school players is obviously age. When you're looking to draft a college guy, you are going to try to evaluate what he can do for your big league team in 1-2 years, since they already have a few years of experience beyond HS competition. High schoolers, you're looking for projection. Does it seem like their frame will fill out as they get older? Signability is also a factor. High schoolers sometimes cost more because they can opt to go to college, while college guys either have to get a year older if they stay for their senior year, or they don't have much of a bargaining chip if they're graduating.

 Q:  David from Orlando asks:
Who are the five can't-miss bats in this year's draft class? What about next year's draft class?

Matt Blood: This year's draft class has some exciting young hitters. Tim Beckham is the best player in the class and has a tremendous bat. Eric Hosmer, Kyle Skipworth, Adrian Nieto and Zack Cox are all other guys who can really swing it. Skipworth and Nieto both play the catcher position, making them a rare combination of field and hit at a premium position. Next year, look for names like Mike Givens, Max Stassi, Jeff Malm, Austin Maddox and Cooper Moseley.

 Q:  Martin from Tampa Bay asks:
Was their any consideration for Seton Hall Prep (NJ) in the top 50? I know they lost Porcello and others form last year but still return a lot of talent.

Nathan Rode: They were discussed among our the members of our committee. They do have some returning talent, but they were incredibly dominant last year mostly because Porcello and Evan Danieli were basically untouchable. They will definitely be on our radar, but will have to contend with in-state rival Don Bosco.

 Q:  Adam from NYC asks:
Two notable names left off the all-american team lists are Destin Hood and Kyle Long. Is this a case of football committments hurting their baseball rankings? Destin looked great the AFLAC classic, but it seems his stock took a dive after that. Any word on the outlook for their baseball futures?

Matt Blood: Destin Hood and Kyle Long are both intriguing guys for this year's draft. Hood is a great athlete who as some scouts say, "has lightening in his bat." A standout wide receiver in high school, Hood is committed to play football at Alabama. You're right, his stock did seem to decrease, but he did not attend any more baseball events following the Aflac All-American game. I'm guessing because of football. Long, the son of Howie, has the mentality and the body of a football player. However, he is a tremendous pitcher and has an undeniably intimidating presence on the mound. Both of these guys have a passion for baseball, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them both play baseball professionally in the future.

 Q:  Greg from Los Angeles, CA asks:
It seems like many of the top 50 are southern california boys, sweet! Has the region become the top area for HS baseball throughout the country or do regions like Florida or Texas still have a claim on that title?

Nathan Rode: California is part of what a lot of us know as The Big Three. I mentioned before that Florida has already started their season. Texas and Cali start this week. Weatherbug is telling me that its 40 degrees in Durham, N.C. currently. The talent levels in these areas have a lot to do with weather, but also concentration of people. The Big Three have an advantage because they can start earlier and play all year, allowing them to hone their skills. Also, there are larger populations in these states, which gives you a larger sample to select players from. However, there are states like Georgia and Arizona that are quickly making a name, but you'll have to wait until late-March to read what Matt Blood found on that topic.

 Q:  Merkado from White Plains, NY asks:
Based on the first team list, you have Harold Martinez listed at 3B. Is this because of Beckham being more of a true SS prospect, or is Harold likely to switch to 3B for good? Is a comparison to a young Alex Rodrigues too lofty for Martinez?

Matt Blood: Martinez is a guy with great fielding actions and ability. However, his size and power projection make him fit more at the hot corner. Some scouts feel Martinez will be a middle of the lineup hitter, winning Gold Gloves in five years. A-Rod might be a lofty comparison, but in the same context of switching positions, I could see the similarities. I doubt Martinez will ever play shortstop in the Major Leagues though.

 Q:  brandon from seattle, wa asks:
i noticed there wasnt anybody from the state of washington in your all-american list. i was just wondering if there are any decent players out of the state this year?

Matt Blood: That is a great question. After talking with scouts from the area, it appears the state of Washington and the entire Northwest for that matter, is having somewhat of a down year. However, Bryan Peterson, Beau Brett and Andrew Kittredge are names to keep in mind

 Q:  Futility Infielder from N C asks:
What specific skill set is the best measurement for high school players?

Nathan Rode: Somebody in Carolina has a clever mind for nicknames. Speed and arm strength are good tools to look at for high schoolers. Those aspects will typically stay with someone, barring injuries of course. Projection, again, isn't a skill really, but still very important. Scouts will look at a player's body and try to get an idea of whether or not they think they will fill out or not.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:
If you had to guess, where will Hicks end up? Mound or OF? What about Gose?

Matt Blood: If I had to guess.... Isn't that the name of the entire game? For both of those guys, I would say in the field. Even though they can each touch 95 mph of the mound, they show the ability to be everyday impact players. Both are tremendous athletes with great speed. The question will be, can they hit professional pitching. If they prove they can, they'll be too valuable to put on the mound.

 Q:  David from Orlando asks:
Other than the guys on the All-America teams, who among this year's crop of high schoolers has the best combination of stuff, pitchability and projectability?

Matt Blood: A guy to really keep an eye on is California lefty Mike Montgomery. He's a good athlete and consistently pitches in the 90 mph range. He has great upside and is very projectable. If he can gain consistency in his breaking ball, he'll move up the draft board.

 Q:  james f from atlanta asks:
Two kids in the Atlanta area I'm curious to hear your thoughts on - OF/P Jay Austin (N. Atlanta) and OF Billy Burns (Walton HS)? Austin, I understand, is headed to USC. I haven't heard mention of Burns, who I suspect slips below the radar because of his 5-9 heighth.

Matt Blood: Jay Austin is an intriguing player. With great speed and a quick lefthanded bat, he should be able to find a way on base at every level. He doesn't show much projection for power. He also shows good instincts in the outfield. Burns size does play against him and he is the type of player that will have to prove himself at every level.

 Q:  Jonathan from GA asks:
How does Hosmer compare to Smoak and Alsono? Is the there a major leaguer to compare him to?

Matt Blood: The difference between Hosmer and Smoak/Alonso is three years and experience. Hosmer is the '08 high school class's best hitter. His swing isn't long and he is very patient at the plate. I would compare him more to Alonso than Smoak. Both are similar in the fact that they consistently make solid contact. In the Major Leagues, he could be a Jason Giambi type.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Does Destin Hood have a shot at getting picked in the 1st round and if so, which team needs his services the most?

Matt Blood: The answer to this question is yes. Hood is a tremendous athlete with Major League tools. If he decides to play only baseball and if signability is not an issue, I could definitely see him going later in the first round or supplemental. I wouldn't say one specific team needs his services or would draft him for that reason. Most teams draft on the basis of who is the best player available that is signable and less on actual need.

 Q:  Blake from Kentucky asks:
Are any of the Kentucky commitments who are pre season All-Americans expected to make it to Lexington?

Matt Blood: Kentucky's recruiting class is impressive, loaded with top tier pitching and some hitting. You're hitting on a key note - the odds of all of them going to school are low. Ross, Meyer and Webb are both expected to be drafted in the first-round. Very seldom does a first-round draft pick pass on the money for school. This recruiting class reminds me of North Carolina's trio last year of Porcello, Harvey and Bumgarner. Harvey being the only one to show up on campus. The Wildcats will be lucky to keep one of their big three this year.

 Q:  greg from toronto asks:
At this point in time, how much separation is there between Aaron Hicks, Isaac Galloway, and Xavier Avery?

Matt Blood: I think the separation comes in projection. Galloway is the most polished and mature of the three at the present. However, Hicks is the most projectable. Avery is behind both of these two in both categories.

 Q:  Steve from Orlando,Fl asks:
Will the Rays seriously consider Beckham as the #1 overall pick in June?

Matt Blood: Of course the Rays will consider Beckham. This year's decision won't be as easy for R.J. Harrison and his staff as last year. The Rays do one of the best jobs at considering all possibilities before making decisions.

 Q:  Jonathan from GA asks:
So to follow up - if you were in a prospect league fantasy draft..Smoak, Alonso, Hosmer?? Kind of a fun question. You could answer Melville v. Cole too!

Matt Blood: Personally, I would take Alonso. The guy can flat out hit - power and average. He's further along than Hosmer in years - so you'll see production from him sooner. Melville vs. Cole? Well, Cole might reach the big leagues sooner because of his power fastball, however, I would take Melville for the long run. He is the most polished pitcher in this class.

 Q:  DAN from INDIANAPOLIS asks:
Do you have any idea how many of the top level high school kids are Scott Boras guys, and if so how that will affect their signability?

Matt Blood: Boras seems to have a handful of top level players in every draft. Gerrit Cole is one of Boras's clients this year. Being a Boras guy always has an effect on signability. He has affected the draft more than any other agent in the history of the draft - good or bad.

 Q:  Josh from Sulphur, LA asks:
Thanks for the chat. I see that Barbe is ranked no. 6 entering the season with their offense cited as a strength. Will any of those bats go high (first 10 rounds) in this year's draft? Or is it just a case of a solid HS players throughout the lineup?

Nathan Rode: Solid HS players through the lineup. They have one player committed to Tulane, Ryan Doiron, a 3B/RHP who hit .383-9-47 in 2007. Two others are committed to McNeese State, a mid-major D-I program and alma mater to Ben Broussard. Barbe is consistently competitive so they get some good attention. We'll see how the season plays out though. There is plenty of time for someone to pop up on scouts' radars.

 Q:  Anthony from Staten Island, NY asks:
Do the Mets focus on pitching or do they look for a big bat?

Matt Blood: Last year, the Mets drafted pitchers with their first six picks. The year before they took pitchers with their first five picks, and in 2005 they took Mike Pelfrey with their first pick. I'm sure the Mets focus on both pitching and hitting, but over the past few years, you do the math.

 Q:  RM Kirk from Los Angeles, CA asks:
How does the entire Aluminum vs Wood hitting ability figure in to evaluation of these top tier players? Is it relevant at all?

Matt Blood: That debate is one that could get any scout talking, especially when it comes to college players. The results of hitting with a wood bat are more "true". What is often times a jam shot single with aluminum would almost always be a broken bat out with wood. However, with high school players, scouting is mostly on projection. I have heard it said before that the way a high schooler hits with aluminum is the way he'll eventually hit with wood when he matures.

 Q:  Doug from Murrieta, CA asks:
Exactly how good is Cypress HS (CA) and what are their chances of beating Vista Murrieta HS (CA)this year? I heard Cypress should have beaten them this past year in the state playoffs..So if they meet again in the playoffs, who do you guys like?

Nathan Rode: Not having Josh Vitters obviously doesn't help the Centurions, but there is still talent on this team. They have four D-I commits, several regulars back and a transfer. David Nick (UCLA) hit .358-3-29 last year and Chase Koissian (Hawaii) is another guy to watch. Danny Pulfer transferred in and is committed to play at Oregon in the Ducks' inaugural season. However, Koissian is out for another couple of weeks after a run-in with a fence. RHP Dennis Waites was only a sophomore last year when he went 8-1 with three saves. The talent is there, but it will be a challenging season for Cypress. Right now, Vista Murrieta seems to have the advantage, but everybody plays everybody differently.

 Q:  Joe from Chantilly, VA asks:
Was there any consideration given to the Snyder twins in Northern Virginia (brothers of 1st rounder Brandon Snyder) for the All-American team? I know they are both big kids with good bloolines and great stats, but are they players for teh first couple round of the draft?

Nathan Rode: The Snyder brothers didn't get near the cut for one of the All-America teams, but that is no discredit. They'll obviously get some attention because of their brother Brandon, but it looks like there is a good chance they'll be playing for Ole Miss this time next year.

Nathan Rode: That's going to do it for today everyone. Thanks for the great questions. Hopefully we can get some more high school chats in the future.

 Q:  El Surdo from 951 asks:
Kyle Skipworth and Matt Lolis are teammates at the same So. Cal high school, Riverside Patriot. Lolis is listed as playing at the wrong school, Rubidoux, on all BA reports. Do you think Patiot HS has a chance to duplicate Chatsworth High Schools Moustakas and Dominguez as possible 1st round HS teammates?

Matt Blood: What Moustakas and Dominguez did last year was pretty amazing, and both guys were consensus first-rounders going into the draft. I feel that Skipworth is the same way and will be taken early. Lollis will have to proove himself this spring. As of now, I do not see him in the first-round. Thanks everyone for the questions. That's all the time we have for today. Talk with you again soon...