2014 Draft Chat With Clint Longenecker

Moderator:  National high school writer Clint Longenecker was here to take your questions.

Clint Longenecker: Thanks for stopping by. And thanks to DeMarini for sponsoring our high school All-American content. We are well into draft season and the draft is less than three months away.

Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Clint, thank you for the chat today. If Daz Cameron were eligible, where would he rank in this year's draft class?
Clint Longenecker: Joe, thanks for stopping by. Cameron, who finished fourth in the outfield vote, would likely factor into the first round. With greater exposure, because the Under Armour All-American Game was one of the few looks decision-makers had at Cameron, he could be the top outfielder in the class. He received a vote for the best hitter in the class, which would not be a surprise to those that saw his batting practice at the UA game. It was by far the most impressive of anyone there, and that list includes Jacob Gatewood, Alex Jackson, Nick Gordon and others. Its hard not to dream on Cameron’s athleticism and bat.

Mick (Chicago): Is it the usual empty wasteland of legit SS prospects? Would you name a few that are under the radar?
Clint Longenecker: This is considered a below-average class of shortstops. Tough question because anyone who is considered a legit prospect at shortstop is not going to be under the radar. The upper tier of shorstops is Nick Gordon, Milton Ramos and Josh Morgan. There are a number high school shortstops that figure to move off the position, Tate Blackman, Greg Deichmann, Shane Benes. Justin Twine (Texas) is a high school shortstop who figures to move off the position because of his arm but is a very fun player to watch because of his physicality, plus-plus speed and bat speed. Cole Tucker, has a chance to stay at shortstop, with a long, rangy build and arm that is at least average. He is a quick, instinctual defender committed to Arizona.

Mick (Chicago): Do they play high school baseball in any European, Ocean Pacific, or African countries? Until they do, don't you think the prospects coming out of those countries will be few and far between?
Clint Longenecker: It depends country by country but the greatest amount exposure in those countries are baseball academies, which have grown significantly over the last few years. These academies have increased the number of prospects out of those countries but the sheer volume of prospects is likely to remain low until greater baseball infrastructure is established, as our cultures that place greater emphasis on baseball over other sports.

sally (berkeley): is the stock of michael chavis rising? can you see a case where he goes in the first half of the first round? what type of mlb player does he remind you of?
Clint Longenecker: Chavis is a very fun player to watch because of his “gamer” or “grinder” approach to the game. At this point in the spring, it seems unlikely that he goes in the top half of the first round. Although Chavis has tools, his tools are not quite as loud as the typical prospect that goes in the top half of round one. He does have feel to hit, though, and that is a question for a number of prospects in this class. Physically, he is comparable to former Dodgers third baseman Ron Cey. I have not heard this from scouts, but the name that popped into my head was a better-running Jedd Gyorko. As physical-bodied 5’10 righthanded hitting second baseman with feel to hit that is their best tool, average pop and arm strength.

Greg (Ohio): Can you tell more about Zack Shannon & Cameron Varga, 2 Cincy area draft prospects? thanks.
Clint Longenecker: Absolutely. Those two power arms give Ohio some firepower that will have to be heavily crosschecked once the season starts in the Buckeye State. Both are power arms coming off injuries. Varga, who transferred up from Florida as an underclassman, has an athletic build and delivery. He has a fastball that can touch 95 and sat 94-94 at PG National. His breaking ball is a chance to be a hammer and could be a legit plus offering. He missed most of last summer with elbow troubles that seem to have subsided. Shannon, is a strong-bodied two-way player, who also has mid-90s heat and a plus secondary pitch, his slider. His delivery is not the cleanest, with a high elbow in the back and an unconventional way of getting over his front side, but it is power stuff. His outing at the PG All-American game showed off his repertoire. He suffered a leg injury at Jupiter during a play at the plate but he has recovered from that. He offers power-hitting potential as an outfielder, where his foot speed limits him to a corner. Shannon is also very young for the class and will be 17 on draft day. Conversely, Varga is old for the class and will be 20 two months after the draft. This is because he lived overseas for a few years with his father, a pro basketball player, and had to wait to jump back into the normal American school schedule upon his return stateside. Both could go off the board in the top few rounds.

Vince (Ocala): What would you say are the strengths of this draft?
Clint Longenecker: The strengths of this draft are pitching, both from a high school and college standpoint. There are arms at the top and serious depth. Another strength, if you want to consider it that, is the diversity of arms because of the depth of arms. Team preferences on repertoire, mechanics and body type will create a divergence of opinions and there are a lot of different types of pitchers that could go in the top few rounds of the draft. Pick your flavor of arm.

Greg (Ohio): Just how much in question is Michael Getty's hit tool?
Clint Longenecker: It is a legitimate concern. He is immensely talented, one of the most talented players in the class and a very hard worker. If the swing comes around, he could easily be a top 10 pick. He can bar out at the plate and has a tendency to expand the zone, especially off the plate away. His swing also lacks balance, at times. Alas, that was his swing during the summer and I know he has made some changes to his swing to start the spring. He has a different setup at the plate with lower hands that should prevent him from barring out as much. He has more bat waggle and a much larger stride. How these changes translate to higher contact rates will be a key development. This is a rare set of tools and ceiling.

Daniel (Arkansas): How close was Luke Bonfield to making an AA team? Also, what are the chances that both he and McKinney make it to Arkansas?
Clint Longenecker: Bonfield finished tied for 24th among outfielders with two third-place votes. I would think it is fairly unlikely that they both end up on campus. There is a chance one could because you don't know what is going to happen this spring. McKinney has a chance to go in the top two or three rounds.

Shocker (Wichita): I've seen Derek Hill evaluated from bad bat to plus bat, how do you feel about his hit tool?
Clint Longenecker: Great question. Regardless of how someone feels about his hit tool it is safe to say that he will be a hit tool over power player, as his power is to the gaps. It is unlikely to be an impact bat but he made a good amount of contact on the showcase circuit against top competition. He has a short, compact and line-drive oriented stroke and excels hitting the ball up the middle. Also, Hill took high quality at-bats on the showcase circuit, showing the ability to spoil pitches and work in deep counts. He drew a fair amount of walks as well. He hits the ball on the ground a lot, which plays to his speed. I have gotten him right around 4.0 seconds multiple times.

Mick (Chicago): Any significant position prospects to check out in the Chicago land area beside the two outfielders named Day?
Clint Longenecker: Although he is more than an hour outside of Chicago, Grant Community HS catcher Simeon Lucas, a lefthanded hitter with a chance to hit and some pull side pop. He is athletic for the position with an athletic build and present strength to go with an average arm.

JD (DC): It's a year early, but how does Brendan Rogers profile?
Clint Longenecker: Very well. Its never too early to get excited about a player like Rodgers because talent is talent. At the Florida Diamond Club, he was out there with potential high draft picks Nick Gordon, Forrest Wall, Tate Blackman, Milton Ramos, and held his own very well. He is a smooth defender with arm strength. The most surprising part of his skill set was his power. His swing is so easy and the ball really jumps off his bat and carries. The game comes easy to him. He will certainly enter the showcase circuit as one of the top prep players in the class.

Steve (California): How close was the voting between Bouchard and Padlo at 3B? Seen a lot of both and haven't seen Bouchard hit velocity much.
Clint Longenecker: They both received one first-place vote and the voting difference between them was fairly small. Padlo wasnt seen on the national showcase circuit until the Area Code Games, where he showed well. Both have power potential. Bouchard does face questions about his ability to make contact in games but it is a smooth swing in batting practice and a large-framed body with room to get stronger. His body would not look out of place right now on a pro field.

Evan (Miami): What kept Holmes off the 1st team?
Clint Longenecker: He finished tenth among pitchers. This ballot was taken before the spring season started and he very well could have received more votes this spring because of the strong start he has had. He is immensely talented and could certainly go in the first round but if I had to guess what held him back from a scouting standpoint it would be his body and strike-throwing ability. At the end of the day, he is a high school 6’0 RHP (official height from East Coast Pro) and there is not a great track record of those players going in the first round. This tells you just how talented Holmes is that he will likely go in the first round despite this tendency to fade 6’0 HS RHPs. As a scouting director told me when we were watching him this fall “I think we just decided he was 6’1.”

Bob (Akron): With his brother already at Vandy, and a strong committment from Justus. Do you see teams still making a run at Sheffield in the first?
Clint Longenecker: He has a chance to go in the first but the consensus probably has him in the second round currently. But lefthanders with velocity, secondary stuff and strike-throwing ability tend to rise in the draft process and he fits the bill. There is a lot to like about Sheffield.

Roger (Greenville, SC): Tell me about KJ Bryant.
Clint Longenecker: Fascinating player. I think he exemplifies the term “raw, toolsy outfielder.” I will speculate that there will be a wide range of opinions on him because he can flash it and a team that values tools and athleticism would be hard pressed not to dream on him. He jumped onto the scene at PG National with some of the best bat speed at the event. His line drive stroke limits his power but the ball can jump off his bat. He is a plus runner in the 60 yard dash with at least an average arm (probably better). He shows well in showcase settings. But he is struggled to make contact in game action. At PG National he used almost no stride at the plate but then added a big leg kick up to his waist in the summer. His timing at the plate is inconsistent, as was his outfield defense. There is a lot to like there but it seems as though he will face a steep learning curve.

Jimmy (Windsor CT): I know it way early but who are some of the early risers in the HS class for the draft?
Clint Longenecker: Texas RHP Michael Kopech, who touched 98 in the last few weeks. He has athleticism, a great looking body and a quick arm. He has made a big jump.

jeff (alvin,tx): Been hearing alot about tyler kolek from shepherd,tx and it sounds like hes taken a huge step forward while Carlos Rodon has not pitched to expectations. Does kolek have a chance to go to the astros with the first pick?
Clint Longenecker: The Astros have proven that they are willing to get creative at the top, so it is tough to rule anything out. But the consensus still likely has Rodon ahead all the high school arms. His track record of performance is tough to top. Kolek also lags significantly behind Rodon in terms of secondary stuff. This is no slight on Kolek, the top high school pitcher in the class, but there is still probably separation between the two.

Peter (Walnut Cove): Will Gatewood have the hit tool, yes or no?
Clint Longenecker: Thanks for the question. It is not that simple. Hitting or not hitting is a false dichotomy. Hitting is a matter of ranges coupled with probabilities. With his current swing, he is unlikely to be better than an average hitter. He shows the physical attributes to do so and he will make significant amount of improvement with pro instruction. He has essentially used four or five different strides in game action. Gaining greater consistency with his lower half and load will go a long way towards hitting. Aptitude is also a huge part of this equation and by the accounts I have heard scouts truly like his aptitude. You cant teach his hands. They are downright special.

Jay (Boston): Is Marcus Wilson beig underrated?? Do you think now that brady Aiken is throwing harder he projects to be a #1 starting pitcher?
Clint Longenecker: Not sure if he is being underrated. He was ranked 24th in our high school top 100. Its easy to dream on him with the body, swing and power potential with additional strength gains. Its difficult to label any prep arm as a No. 1 starter. With the velocity jump he could have three plus pitches, a scary combination with his best-in-class command.

Damon (San Antonio): Would you comment further on Forrest Wall? He's been listed as a shortstop, but then recently I've seen 2B/OF. I may guess that he lacks arm strength to play short.
Clint Longenecker: Yup. He is been listed there but he has largely played second for his HS team, which is a rarity even for prospects who are projected to be 2B in pro ball. You’re right, he does lack the arm to play short. He has one of the best bats of any HS player though, and plus-plus speed.

Mike (Orlando): Blewett has a big projectable frame but how do project his secondaries?
Clint Longenecker: There is a lot to like. His breaking ball improved over the course of the summer. It was below average early in the summer but showed shape and above-average potential towards the end of the circuit.

Ray Graham (Georgia): Rate Preston Tucker's younger brother at Plant High in Tampa as a prospect in 2015? Heard he might be the best hitter in FL right now.
Clint Longenecker: He is serious potential with the bat. He is one of the top hitters heading into the 2015 draft. A lefthanded hitter with power potential too, Tucker is a name to file away.

Juan (San Antonio): Any concern about physical projection on Tyler Kolek? Could he get too big, like Adam Dunn or Frank Thomas, to be effective
Clint Longenecker: Its an extra-large frame but he has aptitude and work-ethic, things that bode well for his body in pro ball.

Andrew (Philadelphia): T/F: 5 years from now, which crop of pitchers will be more successful 1st team or 2nd?
Clint Longenecker: 1st

Kenny (VA): Is Kodi Medeiros underrated due to being from Hawaii? There's a lot to love: knockout slider, hitters don't pick up his arm angle, easy low 90s heat. Much better upside than Aiken and others.
Clint Longenecker: I dont think so. He ranked 7th on our top 100 high school prospects and was also highly ranked by other publications. He was seen heavily on the showcase circuit this summer and high draft picks do come out Hawaii, like Kolten Wong, who went 22nd overall in 2011.

Mike (NC): Who do you see taking Jacob Gatewood in the first round?
Clint Longenecker: Likely within the top 10 picks.

Roger (Greenville, SC): Among possible 1st rounders, who has had the most helium so far this spring?
Clint Longenecker: Grant Holmes, the development of his changeup has impressed many evaluators.

Mitch (Philly): Does Stone Garrett profile in center or corner?
Clint Longenecker: He can certainly run but you dont see many big league center fielders who are as physical as Stone. He is a physical specimen. And he is also likely to get significantly stronger, as he has very big hands and feet. He has one of the best bodies in the class.

ScottAZ (Phx, AZ): On another site I heard Gordon's stock is rising. What has he shown this spring to be moving up?
Clint Longenecker: He has added significant strength to his frame, I believe at least 10 pounds of muscle.

Bill (Pittsburgh): Kodi moderios looks unreal, any reason he's not higher on the board outside his height and arm angle
Clint Longenecker: Those are the two big ones, with the arm slot being the most prominent.

Ben (Leland Grove): Could you envision Nick Gordon possibly going off the board before Turner?
Clint Longenecker: This early in the spring, its not hard to envision anything, especially when you can dream big on Gordon.

Wade (Austin, TX): What are you thoughts on Michael Gettys? IS he the next Clint Frazier?
Clint Longenecker: They are different players. Both Georgia outfielders that can run and have arm strength and power, but their hit tools are different, so are their bodies. Gettys is more physical and 3 inches taller.

@Jaypers413 (IL): Is Kolek your current favorite to be the first HSer drafted this year? Also, how raw would you rank his secondary stuff on the 20-80 scale?
Clint Longenecker: He is the poll leader currently. He flashes plus breaking balls.

Greg (ohio): How does Jackson Reetz compare with 2013 draft 1st round catchers?
Clint Longenecker: McGuire is in a class by himself when it comes to athleticism and defensive potential. He is special. Of McGuire, Okey, Ciuffo and Denney, he is probably most like Okey in terms of body and tools, without the plus speed.

Greg (Flint, MI.): Who shows the most potential to be a future frontline MLB starter between Aiken, Kolek and Reid-Foley?
Clint Longenecker: Kolek has the highest ceiling of the 3.

ScottAZ (Phx, az): Better bet: Gatewood making his MLB debut at SS or Jackson making his as a Ca?
Clint Longenecker: Jackson. That is no slight against Gatewood but history (the Play Index) tells us that there has only been one SS in major league history (Cal Ripken Jr.) who is 6’4 or taller to gain more than 1,000 plate appearances at shortstop.

Joao Martins (Tampa, FL): This is more of statement. You guys are overlooking Brad Depperman of East Lake High School. He is 6'1 RHP sitting low 90's and topping out at 95/96. Late bloomer but did great this summer and velo has just been going up. Any chance he gets better look and gets drafted?
Clint Longenecker: Certainly there is a chance he gets drafted. He touched 93 mph at Jupiter. It is unlikely to be high because he is a 6’0 HS RHP but he will be seen and is young for the class. He fits the profile the type of player who gets to school, similar to a Florida RHP from last year, Taylor Blatch, who touched 96 mph and ended up at FSU.

Clint Longenecker: That’ll be it for today. Thanks for jumping in and reading BA. Have a great weekend.