|One for the books|
|Rating compares this year’s group to what a state typically produces, not to other states|
This year’s North Carolina class is the best the state has ever produced.
There’s no one in the industry who will question that, and as John Manuel wrote earlier this spring, there’s a solid chance that the state breaks a new record for first round selections. The current high of four players was set in 2014, when North Carolina State products Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner were taken with the No. 3 and No. 13 picks respectively.
East Carolina’s Jeff Hoffman went at No. 9 and prep outfielder Braxton Davidson was taken out of Roberson High (Asheville, N.C.) with the 32nd pick of the draft.
The state should easily tie that record this season, with a pair of North Carolina products expected to go in the first round—righthander J.B. Bukauskas and shortstop Logan Warmoth—along with prep players who offer extremely high ceilings in Whiteville High lefthander MacKenzie Gore and North Davidson (Lexington, N.C.) High outfielder Austin Beck.
Outside of the top four, college centerfielders Stuart Fairchild (Wake Forest) and Brian Miller (North Carolina) have a chance to go in the back of the first round, and set a new record for the state.
It’s not just talent at the top that sets this year’s class apart though, as 31 players are ranked in the BA 500 this season, compared to the 2014 class, which had 18. The immense amount of talent at both the collegiate level and the high school level, from top to bottom, will set this group apart for years to come.
|NATIONAL TOP 500 PROSPECTS|
|BA 500 Scouting Reports|
1. MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Whiteville (N.C.) HS (4)
2. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina (6)
3. Austin Beck, OF, North Davidson HS, Lexington, N.C. (9)
4. Logan Warmoth, SS, North Carolina (19)
5. Stuart Fairchild, OF, Wake Forest (43)
6. Brian Miller, OF, North Carolina (44)
7. Gavin Sheets, 1B, Wake Forest (65)
8. Greg Jones, SS, Cary (N.C.) HS (75)
9. Noah Campbell, SS, Cardinal Gibbons HS, Raleigh, N.C. (111)
10. Gavin Williams, RHP, Cape Fear HS, Fayetteville, N.C. (120)
11. Joe Dunand, SS/3B, North Carolina State (130)
12. Spencer Smith, C, Northern HS, Durham, N.C. (158)
13. Evan Mendoza, 3B, North Carolina State (198)
14. Justin Bullock, RHP, South Granville HS, Creedmoor, N.C. (203)
15. Kier Meredith, OF, Glenn HS, Winston-Salem, N.C. (215)
16. Griffin Roberts, RHP, Wake Forest (217)
17. Brett Netzer, 2B, Charlotte (237)
18. Josh McLain, OF, North Carolina State (245)
19. Donnie Sellers, RHP, Wake Forest (260)
20. Jimmy Herron, OF, Duke (282)
21. Matt Brill, RHP, Appalachian State (291)
22. Kyle Datres, 3B, North Carolina (297)
23. Patrick Bailey, C, Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, N.C. (299)
24. Nick Jodway, RHP/3B, Draughn HS, Valdese, N.C. (344)
25. Josh Roberson, RHP, UNC Wilmington (369)
26. Bryan Sammons, LHP, Western Carolina (375)
27. Colton Laws, RHP, Charlotte (376)
28. Cody Roberts, C, North Carolina (408)
29. Jacob Brown, 3B/RHP, Northeast Guilford HS, McLeansville, N.C (423)
30. Brock Deatherage, OF, North Carolina State (441)
31. Tommy DeJuneas, RHP, North Carolina State (497)
|OTHER PROSPECTS OF NOTE|
|2017 Draft Map|
32. Cody Beckman, LHP, North Carolina State
33. Seth Caddell, C, Pinecrest HS, Southern Pines, N.C.
34. Chris Farish, RHP, Wake Forest
35. Nick Feight, C, UNC Wilmington
36. John Curtis, LHP, Lenoir Ryne
37. Thomas St. Clair, RHP, Lenoir Ryne
38. Garrett Blaylock, SS/3B, T.C. Roberson HS, Asheville, N.C.
39. Casey Golden, OF, UNC Wilmington
40. Kyle Blendinger, RHP, Southwest Guilford HS, High Point, N.C.
41. Brian Mims, INF, UNC Wilmington
42. Reid Johnston, RHP/3B, Rocky Mount (N.C.) Academy
43. Ben Breazeale, C, Wake Forest
44. Jack Labosky, 3B, Duke
45. Mitch Stallings, LHP, Duke
46. Bailey Dees, RHP, Hough HS, Cornelius, N.C.
47. Johnny Piedmonte, RHP, North Carolina State
48. Travis Watkins, C, East Carolina
49. Jonathan Pryor, OF, Wake Forest
50. Sean Adler, LHP, North Carolina State
51. Joe O’Donnell, rhp, North Carolina State
52. Andy Cosgrove, C, North Carolina State
53. Karl Blum, RHP, Duke
54. Cory Wilder, RHP, North Carolina State
55. Parker Dunshee, RHP, Wake Forest
56. Matt Oldham, C, Northwood HS, Pittsboro, N.C.
57. Joe Tietjen, OF, UNC Asheville
58. Sam Hall, SS/OF, Topsail HS, Hampstead, N.C.
59. Josh Nifong, RHP, High Point (N.C.) Christian Academy
60. Josh Pike, RHP, Northern Guilford HS, Greensboro, N.C.
61. Zack Kesterson, RHP, Duke
62. Connor Johnstone, RHP, Wake Forest
63. Collin Watt, 3B, T.C. Roberson HS, Asheville, N.C.
64. Ryan Day, RHP, Duke
65. Jason Morgan, RHP, North Carolina
66. Bruce Zimmerman, LHP, Mount Olive (N.C.)
67. Will Robertson, OF, Davidson
68. Matthew Stevens, OF, Charlotte (N.C.) Catholic HS
69. Cameron Cotter, RHP, Northern Guilford HS, Greensboro, N.C.
70. Tristan Shea, C, Porter Ridge HS, Indian Trail, N.C.
71. Nicholas Swiney, LHP, Hough HS, Cornelius, N.C.
72. Cutter Dyals, RHP, North Carolina A&T
73. Zack Mozingo, RHP, Mount Olive (N.C.)
74. Austin Staley, RHP, North Carolina State
75. Myles Sowell, OF, North Carolina A&T
76. Ricky Surum, SS, Mount Olive (N.C.)
77. Tate Pennington, SS, Butler HS, Matthews, N.C.
78. James Ziemba, LHP, Duke
79. Tim Naughton, RHP, North Carolina State
80. Brian Brown, LHP, North Carolina State
81. Adam Pate, OF, North Carolina
Seth Caddell, C, Pinecrest HS, Southern Pines, N.C.
Caddell is a solid catch and throw guy at this point, but his calling card comes with the bat, where he shows good feel for hitting and a bit of power. With a commitment to East Carolina, he figures to be a tough sign, but could easily turn himself into a more high-profile prospect with success at the collegiate level, added power and arm strength.
Chris Farish, RHP, Wake Forest
Farish is strong and physical at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. His performance at Wake Forest hasn’t matched his stuff; Farish can reach the low-to-mid-90s with his fastball and he pitches off a hard, powerful mid-80s slider. He’ll have to improve his strike-throwing to make it as a potential middle reliever.
Nick Feight, C, UNC Wilmington
Feight started all of Wilmington’s 59 games this season, splitting time between catcher and designated hitter, with 18 multi-hit games and 15 home runs—good for second on the team. In each of the past two years, Feight has shown the ability to hit for power with metal, hitting a home run every 13.3 at bats. That power didn’t show up as often in the Cape Cod League however, as Feight homered once every 29.3 at-bats, leaving teams wondering how the power will translate to the next level.
John Curtis, LHP, Lenoir Ryne
Curtis struck out 71 batters in 50 innings this season thanks to a curveball that could be a plus pitch and a sneaky fastball. His control comes and goes (he walked 32 batters) and that’s the main knock on him, but he has enough stuff to interest teams.
Thomas St. Clair, RHP, Lenoir Ryne
St. Clair led Lenoir Ryne with 116 strikeouts in 87 innings this spring, thanks to a live fastball that he routinely overpowered hitters with. The pitch can be a bit flat, and he struggles to repeat his delivery consistently, but he has a strong arm.
Garrett Blaylock, SS/3B, T.C. Roberson HS, Asheville, N.C.
A Vanderbilt commit who’s got some strength now and projects to hit for even more power in the future thanks to a 6-3 frame, he’ll be a costly sign and likely will move to a corner spot at the next level.
Casey Golden, OF, UNC Wilmington
After entering the season as the No. 6 prospect in the Colonial Athletic Conference, Golden led the entire league in home runs after setting a new single-season Wilmington record with 21 during his senior season—more than his first three years combined (19). Golden struck out nearly three times as much as he walked (73 K, 25 BB), but he also finished the season on a 14-game hitting streak—also a new Wilmington record—to put an exclamation point on his explosive fourth year.
Kyle Blendinger, RHP, Southwest Guilford HS, High Point, N.C.
Blendinger retired some of the best hitters in the nation on the summer showcase circuit. He’s an advanced athlete and creates deception by varying his tempo and arm slot. Blendinger pitches in the upper 80s with his fastball and shows an upper 70s slider. He’s relatively polished and could be an immediate contributor if he honors his commitment to North Carolina.
Brian Mims, INF, UNC Wilmington
After slugging just .004 points above his on-base percentage during his first year with Wilmington, Mims exploded in a big way at the plate during 2016. He followed up a zero-homer first season with a 14-year sophomore campaign and has continued to hit with authority as a junior and in the New England Collegiate summer league. With that power comes a significant amount of strikeouts though, with 27 percent of his at-bats with Wilmington ending via the strikeout. Still, he’s track record of hitting with impact speaks for itself and he also showed the ability to hit for power with wood.
Connor Johnstone, RHP, Wake Forest
Johnston has a projectable frame and pitches with an upper 80s fastball. He’s flashed feel for spot his low-80s changeup, and shows shape to his long low-70s curveball. Johnston has a quick arm, long levers and gets impressive extension over his front side. He could develop into a more prominent prospect after attending North Carolina State.
Ben Breazeale, C, Wake Forest
A four-year starter behind the plate for Wake Forest, Breazeale is coming off of a career-best offensive year in which he hit over .300, slugged over .500 and reached base more than 40 percent of the time—all first for him at the collegiate level. In addition to his track record behind the dish, Breazeale also has a long summer league history, and while he still managed to draw a number of walks, his power numbers disappeared with a wood bat in his hands.
Jack Labosky, 3B, Duke
Labosky is an interesting two-way player out of Duke, who started 52 games at third base and also served as the team’s closer, racking up seven saves. Labosky has shown some power over the past two seasons, but also a proclivity for striking out, with 54 his sophomore season and 62 this year in 57 games.
Mitch Stallings, LHP, Duke
After leading the Blue Devils in relief appearances in 2016 Stallings moved into a starting role for the first time in his collegiate career this spring. He had one start as a freshman, but was otherwise used out of the pen. Over his three-year career Stallings has always put up solid numbers, including a 2015 stint in the Cape Cod League, but never anything that stands out. This season he led Duke in innings pitched while posting a 4.50 ERA, but teams might take pause when they see he allowed 10 home runs.
Bailey Dees, RHP, Hough HS, Cornelius, N.C.
Dees has a built-to-last pitcher’s frame at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds. He pitches in the upper 80s with his fastball now and can bump 90, but his arm speed and frame point to velocity gains in his future. Dees shows a sharp mid-70s curveball that could develop into an above-average pitch with more power. He’s committed to Penn State.
Johnny Piedmonte, RHP, North Carolina State
Piedmonte’s journey has been a long one, as the redshirt senior has missed a significant amount of time thanks to a Tommy John surgery that took place prior to his senior season in high school, and a car accident prior to his sophomore season with the Wolfpack, which required surgery to correct nerve damage in his back. He finally debuted for N.C. State in 2015 and became a regular starter for the team the next three seasons, culminating in his best year on the mound in 2017. Piedmonte led all Wolfpack pitchers with at least 17 innings in ERA at 2.77.
Travis Watkins, C, East Carolina
After being named the Most Outstanding Player of the Charlottesville Regional last season—thanks in part to a walk-off three-run homer vs. Virginia—Watkins continued to hit in his redshirt senior season, setting career highs in home runs (10) and isolated power (.180), although his K/BB ratio was also the highest he’s had with the Pirates. On the 2017 American Athletic Conference preview, Watkins was named the best defensive catcher and the best arm behind the dish.
Joe O’Donnell, rhp, North Carolina State
O’Donnell posted the highest strikeout rate of his college career this season, after missing the bulk of 2016 due to injury. Control concerns are real though, as the righthander has twice posted BB/9 rates over 5 with the Wolfpack, including this season.
Karl Blum, RHP, Duke
A top prospect in the Atlantic Collegiate League the past two summers, Blum has the makings of a solid senior sign thanks to a still projectable 6-5 frame, a fastball that sits in the low 90s and touches 93 as well as a solid changeup and slurvy breaking ball. His breaking ball has flashed plus in the past, and with an uptick in stuff there’s a chance Blum could develop into a starter, although he was predominantly used out of the bullpen with the Blue Devils.
Cory Wilder, RHP, North Carolina State
Wilder has offered tantalizing stuff on the mound since he was in high school, when he created buzz during a Super 60 event in 2013, showing a 92-94 mph fastball with plane and a solid curve. The knock at the time was that Wilder needed to find more consistency. Fast forward four years and that’s still the case for Wilder, who only threw 11 innings but still managed to walk 12 batters. Still, teams might be willing to take a chance on him and try to iron out his command issues.
Parker Dunshee, RHP, Wake Forest
A captain and Friday night starter for Wake Forest, Dunshee has been a reliable member of the Demon Deacons starting rotation the last two seasons. As a sophomore, he served as a starter, long reliever and closer and led the team with a 2.89 ERA.
Joe Tietjen, OF, UNC Asheville
Tietjen came back down to earth a bit as a senior after a torrid junior campaign—when he led UNC Asheville in hits, runs, RBI, doubles and stolen bases—but still has an intriguing track record as a hitter. He hit four home runs in three straight summer leagues from 2014-16 and has increased his stolen base numbers each year with Asheville.