Crosscheckers Will Travel To Unique Locations In 2013

This year’s High School Top 100 list stands out for a few reasons . . .

Premium Positions

While the top of this year’s draft doesn’t compare to the premium talent available from the high school ranks in 2012, there is some interesting depth and it’s clear that the strength’s of his year’s high school class are two positions teams can seemingly never get enough of: catchers and lefthanded pitchers.

The Top 100 list features nine true catchers, two players who may remain behind the plate, but probably fit better at first base in Zack Collins from American Heritage High in Plantation, Fla., and Corey Simpson from Sweeny (Texas) High and two players in California—Dom Nunez from Elk Grove High in Sacramento and Chris Rivera from El Dorado High in Placentia, Calif., who have intrigued scouts in brief looks behind the plate.

Of those final two, Nunez is more committed to transitioning behind the plate than Rivera. Leaving Rivera out, that makes 12 players in the Top 100 with a good shot at being drafted as a catcher. The Top 100 high school players are generally picked in the top six rounds. For comparison’s sake, the first six rounds of the 2012 draft included six high school catchers. In 2011 it was nine and in 2010 it was three.

2013 HS Top 25
Rank Player Pos. School
1 Austin Meadows OF Grayson HS, Loganville, Ga.
2 Clint Frazier OF Loganville (Ga.) HS
3 Trey Ball OF/LHP New Castle (Ind.) HS
4 Reese McGuire C Kentwood HS, Covington, Wash.
5 J.P. Crawford SS Lakewood (Calif.) HS
6 Dominic Smith 1B/OF Serra HS, Gardena, Calif.
7 Jordan Sheffield RHP Tullahoma (Tenn.) HS
8 Ryan Boldt OF Red Wing (Minn.) HS
9 Kohl Stewart RHP St. Pius X HS, Houston
10 Jonathan Denney C Yukon (Okla.) HS
11 Oscar Mercado SS Gaither HS, Tampa
12 Rob Kaminsky LHP St. Joseph Regional HS, Montvale, N.J.
13 Stephen Gonsalves LHP Cathedral Catholic HS, San Diego
14 Ian Clarkin LHP Madison HS, San Diego
15 Garrett Williams LHP Calvary Baptist HS, Shreveport, La.
16 Rowdy Tellez 1B Elk Grove HS, Sacramento
17 Travis Demeritte 3B Winder-Barrow HS, Winder, Ga.
18 A.J. Puk LHP/1B Washington HS, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
19 Nick Ciuffo C Lexington (S.C.) HS
20 Justin Williams OF Terrebonne HS, Houma, La.
21 Brett Morales RHP King HS, Tampa
22 Dustin Driver RHP Wenatchee (Wash.) HS
23 Matt McPhearson OF Riverdale Baptist HS, Upper Marlboro, Md.
24 Andy McGuire SS Madison HS, Vienna, Va.
25 Cavan Biggio 3B St. Thomas HS, Houston

For lefthanders, there’s a outside chance that five high school southpaws are picked in the first round, which would be a draft record. Trey Ball from New Castle (Ind.) High is the highest on the list, but it’s more likely he’ll be taken as a position player with a very nice fallback option. Outside of him, there are 11 lefthanders on the Top 100 list.

The weaknesses of the class are righthanded pitching—there isn’t a Lucas Giolito, Dylan Bundy, Jameson Taillon or Zack Wheeler in this year’s class. There are always pitchers who make a big leap forward in the spring, but right now it looks like a below-average year for high school righties. The high school shortstop crop in this class is also a little thin after J.P. Crawford from Lakewood (Calif.) High and Oscar Mercado from Gaither High in Tampa.

Unique Locales

A quick scan through this year’s list and it’s easy to see there are plenty of players from unique locations. All in all, this year’s Top 100 has players from 31 different states (including Canadian provinces, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico), which is the most in the recent history of the lists.

The first player who stands out in that regard is outfielder Ryan Boldt from Red Wing (Minn.) High. Traditionally, Minnesota’s draft history is strong with Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor, along with solid players like Kent Hrbeck, Terry Steinbach, Denny Neagle, Jim Eisenreich and Dan Wilson. All those players signed out of college, though. Boldt could be the first high school player to be drafted in the first round out of the Land of 10,000 Lakes since Joe Mauer in 2001.

A.J. Puk is a lefthander and first baseman from Washington High in Cedar Rapids, Iowa—a state that has never produced a first-round high school pick. He has impressive physicality and has stood out on the mound for the past couple years. He’s now drawing some interest as a legitimate two-way player. Iowa high schools don’t play baseball in the spring, but Puk will play in a Perfect Game league on weekends.

The last time Maryland had a first-round pick out of high school was in 2001 with righthander Gavin Floyd. Outfielder Matt McPhearson is on the outside looking in right now, but could force his way into that discussion with a good spring. McPhearson has impressive athleticism, as both his father and four of his older brothers have all played Division I football. He is an 80 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale.

Connecticut has a player on the list in outfielder Thomas Milone from Masuk High in Monroe, Conn. Milone stood out at the East Coast Professional Showcase for his above-average speed and intriguing pull power in his lefthanded swing. The most successful position player signed out of a Connecticut high school has been Brad Ausmus, a 48th-round pick in 1987.

Out West, Colorado has two physical righthanders in Derik Beauprez (Cherry Creek, Colo., High) and Alec Hansen (Loveland, Colo., High). But that’s not too rare for Colorado. After all, the Rocky Mountain state has produced plenty of pitchers over the years, most notably Goose Gossage, Roy Halladay, Danny Jackson, Brad Lidge, Brandon McCarthy, Luke Hochevar and David Aardsma.

It’s two other states that are more unique for crosscheckers’ schedules. Scouts are very happy that they have a legitimate reason to expense trips to Hawaii this year, as outfielder Marcus Doi from Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu and catcher Iolana Akau from St. Louis High in Honolulu. both look like quality draft picks.

Crosscheckers and scouting directors will also be making the less-exciting trip into Idaho this year to catch outfielder Mason Smith from Rocky Mountain High in Meridian and third baseman Joey Martarano from Fruitland High.

Typical Hot Spots

This year’s list isn’t all about non-traditional states. As is usually the case, the three big states (California, Texas and Florida) dominate the list. Combined, those three states account for more than 40 percent of the list, as California has 20 players ranked, Florida has 14 and Texas has 10.

California’s group is top heavy with shortstop J.P. Crawford from Lakewood (Calif.) High, outfielder/first baseman Dominic Smith from Serra High in Gardena, lefthanders Stephen Gonsalves from Cathedral Catholic High in San Diego and Ian Clarkin from Madison High in San Diego, as well as first baseman Rowdy Tellez from Elk Grove High in Sacramento all among the top 16 prospects in the country. There is some obvious depth in the state and it’s a very good year in the San Diego area, as well as another solid year for Northern California.

While not all organizations split up their scouting assignments the same way, it’s easy to see why many teams are adding an extra crosschecker in the Southeast. This year’s list features 36 players from that region. After Florida, Georgia has eight players on the list, South Carolina has four, North Carolina and Tennessee have three apiece and Alabama and Puerto Rico each have two.