Looking Ahead: 2010 SoCal Hitters

LOS ANGELES—No rest for the weary. With the 2009 Major League Baseball amateur draft now safely tucked away for posterity, it’s time to focus on the 2010 draft.

Even at this early date, high schools in Southern California offer a fascinating array of prospects.The local 2010 class figures to be deeper in speed, multi-tool position players and righthanded pitching than the 2009 class, which carried an edge in power hitters and lefthanded pitching.

In fact, the 2010 group may rival the remarkable local classes of 2007 and 2008, both in quality and depth.

Today we’ll offer some thumbnail reports on SoCal position players, many with exciting three to five tool potential.

Austin Wilson, of, Harvard Westlake School, Sherman Oaks, Calif.

An alumnus of the 2008 Area Code games, Wilson sports an impressive 6-foot-4, 200-pound build. Reminiscent of Mike Stanton, one of the Marlins’ top minor leaguers, Wilson is a corner outfield prospect with average speed, a terrific arm and awe-inspiring batting practice power.

Stefan Sabol, c/of, Aliso Niguel (Calif.) High

Sabol is a fitness buff, who, according to rumor, has never tasted a soda nor a potato chip. Strong and physically mature at six feet and 200 pounds, Sabol has excellent speed—6.75 in the 60-yard dash. I caught his best pop time at a recent showcase event at 1.88 secconds. A nearby college coach registered 1.81 for the same throw.

While there is no doubt that Sabol has an outstanding arm, he struggles in receiving pitches, failing to exhibit the ease and comfort behind the plate that a natural catcher possesses. He has dabbled in right field in travel ball, so his speed and arm may fit best at a corner outfield spot.

As a hitter Sabol displays power and bat speed, but will drift into stretches where he rolls his hands over and imparts topspin on the ball, cutting the distance of his drives. When he corrects that habit, Sabol projects to average if not above-average big league power.

Christian Yelich, 1b/of, Westlake (Calif.) High

Long a showcase, scout ball and travel ball standout, Yelich exhibits the sweetest left handed swing of any prospect in the So Cal 2010 class.Tall, lanky and projectable, Yelich runs well (around 6.7 to 6.8 in the 60) but his lack of arm strength may limit him to first base or left field.

Consistency is Yelich’s Achilles heel. He will look brilliant at times and dreadful at others, prompting scouts and spectators to whisper “Are you sure that’s Yelich?” When he is “on”, Yelich may be the best pure hitter in next year’s local class—as he exhibited this spring with an opposite field homer off of lefthander Tyler Skaggs, the Angels 2009 supplemental first round pick.

Cory Hahn, of, Mater Dei High, Santa Ana, Calif.

Several organizations will be scared off by Hahn’s 5-foot-9, 160-pound build. His size may not be big league, but his tools are. Hahn has blazing 6.6-second speed, an arm that projects to be solid-average and a quick bat with surprising power. He belted two long homers off of Matt Hobgood fastballs in a recent playoff game.

Hahn is extremely lift and pull oriented at the plate, a trait which causes him to strike out more than he should. To inch up draft boards, he’ll need to cut down on the whiffs, use the whole field and do a better job of following the pitch onto his bat.

Michael Lorenzen, of, Fullerton (Calif.) High

Lorenzen may be the most complete player in the local 2010 class. He has an ideal 6-foot-2, 180-pound, projectable frame, 6.8 speed and a powerful of arm that has been reportedly clocked in the low 90s on the mound.

At bat, Lorenzen will need to develop better plate discipline, but he has excellent power and can drive the ball hard to all fields. Unlike most youngsters, Lorenzen does an excellent job of keeping his swing “on plane”.

Angelo Gumbs, of, Torrance (Calif.) High

The “sleeper” in the 2010 class, Gumbs may have the biggest upside of any 2010 So Cal High School position player.Powerfully built at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Gumbs can scoot down the first base line anywhere from 4.07 to 4.12 seconds from the right side of the plate.

A prep shortstop who projects as a left or center fielder, Gumbs has a fine arm, but his throws are inconsistent. This is probably due to his habit of dipping his elbow below the level of his shoulder on some throws, something that should be easily correctable.

As a hitter, Gumbs has terrific bat speed, perhaps the quickest in the local 2010 class. However, he is unrefined as a hitter. When Gumbs learns to keep his front side closed longer and track the ball onto his bat, his potential as a hitter may be unlimited.