2012 High School Top 100 Draft Chat

Conor Glassey: Welcome everybody to the second draft chat for the 2012 class! Thanks for joining us here today as we take a break from posting our Organization Top 10 lists. Nathan Rode and I worked really hard on this HS Top 100 list and we're very happy with the way it turned out. Like I mentioned in the writeup above the subscriber list, it's a deep group so there were several good players left off the list, but that's what the spring is for, right? Let's jump in to the questions!

    Jake (New Orleans, LA): Which 2012 crop impresses you more at this junction - High School or Collegiate?

Conor Glassey: Jake - usually that's a tougher question because you have to balance risk vs. reward and upside vs. talent that's closer to being ready for the big leagues. But this year, the college class is pretty thin (but we'll have a College Top 100 list on the site soon) as more and more teams are aggressively signing the top prospects out of high school. The high school class this year has very good depth, so it's an easy win for the HS side for me.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): If you had to compare last year's HS Top 100 to this year's, which list wins and why?

Nathan Rode: Thanks for joining us everybody. This is a good early chat question from Jaypers (who else right?). I think the 2011 high school crop was more top heavy with the likes of Starling, Bundy, Bradley, Lindor, etc. But the '12 group is deeper I think. We always struggle to squeeze in 100 guys, but this year seemed the toughest of the ones I've worked on.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Gut feeling - in three years' time, is McCullers a SP or RP?

Conor Glassey: Three seasons? I think he's still a starter. That's this year, and his first two years of pro ball. It's not a slam dunk he winds up in the 'pen and the team that drafts him will give him a shot to start, so I'd bet he's still a starter in three years.

    Frank (Chicago): How do Trahan's receiving skills look behind the plate? Is there a comp for him?

Conor Glassey: He's solid behind the plate with a strong arm, but there's not a good comp for him because he's so unique in that he's a plus runner for a catcher. But the running's a bonus when you just consider that he's a lefthanded power bat at a premium position.

    Grant (NYC): Is Gallo more suited for 1B or on the mound, in your opinion?

Nathan Rode: We have a couple questions on Gallo. Personally, I like Gallo on the mound. But I'm probably crazy too. He's raw there and his velo will vary from 85-95, but he's shown some feel for secondary stuff. He has the arm strength and frame to make scouts think twice about it, but I think he'll start out as a first baseman because it's hard to ignore the power and I think that's what he wants to do. As a position player, he's a tough guy to gauge. Power is his best tool but there is a lot of swing-and-miss to his game. He has arm strength that would fit at third base or right field, but he's a first baseman. High school first baseman have to absolutely rake for scouts to bite. Gallo has the power, but it's to be determined where the hit tool rates.

    William (Pensacola, Florida): Would Jameis Winston ranking being higher if he didn't already have the verbal football commitment to FSU or is that ranking strictly based on potential ?

Conor Glassey: For those that don't know, Winston is the top-rated QB in the country. I'm not a football scout, but this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ljB0FmF4aA) makes him look like Cam Newton. But our rankings are based strictly on potential.

    Wes (Louisiana): Who do you think the Astros will select with the 1st pick and who do you think is the best player in the draft?

Conor Glassey: Too early to tell, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was Buxton. I had a crosschecker tell me he's the best player in this year's draft.

    Marc (Texas): Odds of TCU getting Traver, Fairchild, Aune, and Thompson all on campus?

Nathan Rode: Traver is the least likely to make it to campus obviously, but he's not a lock to sign. Nobody really is at this point. The others have a shot of making it. Thompson could take off in the spring if he puts some things together, but he's a two-way guy and might use that as leverage. If he wants to hit and teams like him on the mound, he could end up at school. But it's November. It's anybody's guess at this point!

    Ben (Leland Grove): Nelson Rodriguez's stock sure has fallen in the past few months, as I see he's not on the list. Would you consider him too one-dimensional, or is there more to it than that?

Nathan Rode: I think Nelson was over hyped though we didn't exactly have glowing reports on him going into the summer. His game is all about the bat, but it's not elite. There's plenty of power in there, but teams will worry about his body too. He can handle first base, but by no means is a plus defender over there.

    Morrie (NJ): Is Lucas Giolito comparable to Jameson Taillon in any way? If so, how?

Conor Glassey: They're similar. Coming into the draft, Taillon had a heavy 93-97 mph fastball and a hammer CB in the mid-80s. Pretty similar to what Giolito was showing this summer, although I think Giolito's mechanics are a little smoother.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): There is Lucas Giolito sandwiched between them, but how far is the gap between Buxton and Dahl? Buxton seems to have the upper-hand in both present and future power, but how do their other tools match-up?

Nathan Rode: There really isn't much of a gap between those three. Buxton has a slight edge in tools over Dahl, but Dahl might lead in the hit category right now. They're neck and neck, but throw in that Dahl isn't a lock to stay in CF, you give the edge to Buxton. I do think Dahl sticks in center though.

    Nate (Maryland): How is Maryland's recruiting class so far this year? Anyone on their radar looking at a decent draft slot?

Nathan Rode: Shoutout to Coach Bakich and Coach Burton here. I love Maryland's class. They didn't land anyone in the Top 100, but a couple guys were considered. Jared Price is a stocky righthander who seems like an ordinary arm, but I saw him get into a bases loaded jam sitting 88-90 this summer. Then he found another gear, sitting low 90s, touching 94 and got out of it. Alexander Robinson is a tough lefty. He has a high leg kick and then comes at you from the side, but it sits 87-89 with movement and he has solid secondary stuff. Then throw in Kyle Moore's upside and things get really interesting. I think there is a strong chance that all of these guys make it to campus, barring them blowing up in the spring of course.

    Grant (Toronto, ON): Nick Williams was ranked in the top 5 of most 2012 draft previews from early this year. What has changed in the scouting reports on him? Has he regressed, or has the talent above him just improved that much?

Conor Glassey: Grant, not sure what rankings you're talking about. We haven't had him as a top 5 guy this year. We did an Early Overall Top 50 in September that had Williams 12th among the HS guys (21st overall) and his ranking has slipped a little since then and others have emerged ahead of him. Frankly, he's a very difficult prospect to rank (and will be a polarizing prospect even among scouting staffs within the same organization) because he's so raw. There are definite tools there�excellent bat speed and power, he's an above-average runner, but his game is very very rough. He takes poor routes in the outfield, is inconsistent at the plate and looks extremely inexperienced on the bases. That said, those things can be taught. You can't teach bat speed or foot speed.

    Greg (Ohio): Courtney Hawkins wasn't on your early Top 50 list could you give some more information?

Conor Glassey: You're right, he wasn't. Hawkins is a guy that has looked better and better as the showcase circuit went on (which is what scouts want to see). He has a physical, muscular frame and big power potential. There is some swing and miss and he's a corner outfielder, so he's going to have to hit. But if he doesn't, he may wind up on the mound, where he's been up to 92.

    Big Mike (Lafayette, La): Great to see two Bayou kids on the list but Trahan over Cecchini, what are your reasons? Like both of them but I think your off key here, Gavin is the better player.

Nathan Rode: We certainly love both and had Cecchini ahead early on, but the feedback we got from scouts said otherwise. While there isn't a wealth of prep shortstops, high school catchers are more rare I think. Throw in that Trahan hits lefthanded with pop and those guys don't last long. That doesn't take anything away from Cecchini though. Scouts think he can stay at short and hit while also showing good power. There is also a difference between player and prospect. Not to say that would even change the ranking, but scouts probably like the upside of a lefthanded hitting catcher with power and speed just a tick more. But the difference between Nos. 5 and 8 at this point is extremely small.

    Jessica (New York): Hi, I was surprised to not see Matt Olson from Georgia on the list. Was he not eligible?

Conor Glassey: Jessica, all seniors in high school were eligible for the list. Matt Olson was a tough cut from the list and I like his lefthanded bat.

    Mick (Chicago): Is it the usual scarcity of legit long term shortstop prospects? Please name the few that project to play the position in the majors.

Conor Glassey: Yes, that's typically the case, Mick. And we're always lenient with players' positions on these lists, giving players the benefit of the doubt. So - lots of the shortstops on this list will likely move to third base (Russell & Seager) or second base (like Valentin Diaz, Bregman, White, & Romero). Cecchini is the best bet to stay at shortstop, which is why he's the highest. Correa and Rahier will have their doubters but will get a shot.

    Jerry (USA): Where do you draw the line in your rankings for the first round guys?

Nathan Rode: I'd start with No. 11 Carlos Correa. Then I'd say the next 3-4 have a chance to sneak in. Normally we see the draft lean about 2/3 college. Given the depth on the HS side and the relative weakness of the college crop, we could see 15+ preps go in the first round. June is far away though.

    Mick (Chicago): Are there any position players worth checking out in person next spring in Illinois?

Conor Glassey: Well, Kevin Ross is on the list. Of the guys that missed, you should check out catcher Blake Hickman at Simeon, where you can get a sneak peek at 2013 stud outfielder Corey Ray. There's also catcher Jason Goldstein (Highland Park) and shortstop Devin Pickett (Marian Catholic) for 2012.

    Viking (Valencia): What is your opinion on Trey Williams? Any chance he will attend Pepperdine?

Conor Glassey: My opinion is that he has a very intriguing bat with power but he should have shown up to more events this summer. Will be interesting to see how he does this spring and I think the chances of him winding up at Pepperdine are very slim.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): Does Weickel have any plus-plus pitches? Would you think he'd get drafted in the overall top 10 if it were held today?

Nathan Rode: Plus-plus? No. Though, plus-plus pitches among high school guys are rare. But I do think he could go Top 10 if the draft were today. He's athletic with a strong, projectable frame. He throws downhill well with a relatively clean delivery and good fastball. And he has a good changeup and curveball. In the last year I've already seen him go from 88-91 to 90-93. I'm a huge Weickel fan, but alas, he's too good to be my cheeseball. Just look at the photo on our college page currently. If you didn't know any better, would you think that guy is an amateur just from a glance?

    Al (Suwanee, GA): Any consideration to UGA commit, RHP- David Gonzalez of Gainesville HS(GA)? He seems to be one of those guys that's just steadily gotten better over the past few months and seemed to continue that trend at Jupiter. Seems like he may be a real dark horse in GA this spring.

Conor Glassey: You're right and David Gonzalez was another close call for the list (was even on an initial version of the list, but got squeezed out). When I saw him this summer, the Georgia commit showed a fastball in the 90-94 mph range, an 82-84 mph changeup with split action and a low 80s slider. Like I said, this class is DEEP. and that reminds me of something I wanted to bring up. . . this Top 100 is just a snapshot of how things look right now. Obviously so much can and certainly will change as things start to unfold in the spring. High school players are volatile. The Top 100 high school players generally get picked in the top 7 rounds. Last year in the top 7 rounds, 28 high school righthanded pitchers were taken and about a quarter of them weren't big showcase guys the previous summer, essentially being spring pop-ups. This is one of the many reasons you should subscribe to Baseball America, if you don't already. During the season we run a feature called Draft Tracker every other week for the first half of the spring and then every week leading up to the draft. Last year in the Draft Tracker we ran scouting reports on the following pop-up guys, who weren't big names in the fall but wound up being notable picks or signings in the draft: Dillon Thomas, Williams Jerez Granden Goetzman, Clay Holmes, Tayler Scott, Joe Musgrove, Connor Barron, Kyle Crick, Amir Garrett, Mitchell Walding and more.

    Greg (Fullerton, CA): UCLA has 5 in the top 40 and 7 in the top 100. Which, if any, of this pack will end up in Westwood?

Nathan Rode: If I were a betting man I'd say Giolito, Fried and Virant sign, though I don't think any of them would be easy. Poteet, Robertson and Perez are on the bubble, could go either way at this point. Ty Moore makes it to campus.

    Jonesy (Madison): Would Chris Harvey be on this list if he did not go to Vandy a year early?

Conor Glassey: Yes, and the only reason he wasn't mentioned with those other guys (Hinojosa, Megill, Perez & Gushue) is because Harvey is already actually at school, whereas those other guys have only said they're planning to go to college early and haven't actually done it yet.

    Charles (California): Pitching... Which pitchers (both RHP and LHP) do think project out as the front end starters at the next level?

Nathan Rode: Good question Charles. I'm not going to slap an Ace label on any high schoolers at this point, but here's who I think has that kind of upside: Giolito, Weickel, Smoral, Fried, McCullers. Then I might throw in Traver, Sims and Underwood. I'm probably the high guy on Traver. It seems the starts I've seen have all been his best, but that's why we get feedback from scouts and players are crosschecked. I see a big-bodied starter with a plus fastball with good life, plus curveball and solid changeup with potential. But I've been wrong before!

    Blackie (Cincinnati, OH): Thanks for the chat guys. Freddy Avis seems to be one of the helium guys in the early going. Can you tell us a little about him?

Conor Glassey: Freddy Avis is a 6-foot-2, 180-pound righthander from Northern California. He goes to Menlo School, a college prep school that also produced Kenny Diekroeger and, like Diekroeger, he is committed to Stanford. Avis has a fastball in the 90-92 mph range, as well as a good curveball and changeup. He has a balanced delivery and a quick arm.

    Peter (san diego): Doesn't Addison Russell project more as a 3B than SS?

Nathan Rode: Yes, but he plays shortstop now and will probably get his chance to stick there. For high school prospects, we like to give guys the benefit of doubt in a list, but we'll talk about likelihood of a position switch in a report where we have the opportunity to go into more detail.

    Nick (WI): How's the video editing coming?

Nathan Rode: My stuff has been sorted, but you should ask Conor how the converting of his files is going!

    Lancer Fan (Bay Area): Expected to see Braden Bishop on this list, two sport athlete who can play CF, run and swing the bat. How close was he to making the list and what kept him off?

Conor Glassey: You guys are doing a great job of asking about guys that were thisclose to making the list. Bishop was another guy that was near the bottom of an earlier version of the list, but got kicked off to make room for suggested additions. When we do these lists, we get a lot of feedback from scouts and college recruiters. Because of that, we always get a lot more suggestions on guys to add to the list than players we have to kick off, so some tough decisions have to be made. Bishop is a quality athlete, but ultimately I think he'll be stretched in center field (he ran a 6.97 at Area Codes, so his speed is more average than plus). So, if he has to move to a corner, the bat becomes a lot more important. Bishop has a nice, balanced swing, but it's more of a line drive swing than a power swing.

    Pat (Boston,Ma): I was excited to see a Massachusetts position player on the list! How hard is it to stay competitive in the draft when you are from New England.

Nathan Rode: It's tough for hitters since they're not going to face top pitching very much. Obviously pitchers have it hard too, but I feel like you can showcase a little more on the mound and scouts like to gamble on Northeast arms because they're "fresh". For a New England hitter I would want to see consistency in the spring. If you're swinging and missing at 85 mph fastballs and not squaring the ball up consistently, I would be concerned. See Derek Fisher circa 2011. Scouts loved his bat during the summer, but he had a tough spring. That, coupled with his commitment to UVa. caused him to slide. But if you're a good athlete and showing ability regularly, I'll take that chance.

    Jim (Birmingham, AL): Any thoughts on the Hoover HS quarterback and CF Sam Gillikin?(Auburn signee). Seems like with his speed, athleticism and polished swing, once he focuses solely on baseball he's going to be a huge prospect. He's always had his football commitment dominate his time and never played much travel ball, but showed some tools at East Coast Pro and the Under Armour All-American game. He and Dahl will play a few times this spring; should be fun.

Conor Glassey: Gillikin was another one that was considered and you're right, he's a quality athlete with speed and a nice lefthanded swing. I'm not sure whether or not Gillikin prefers football or baseball (and I heard he got hurt this fall), but those matchups vs. Dahl should be great!

    Jackson (Gainesville, FL): Where does Avery Romero project in the draft? I hear he runs 7.5 60yd dash, but his bat is very playable. Does a position switch to behind the plate seem necessary to skip college?

Nathan Rode: I saw him run a 7.4 at East Coast Pro. He's not fast, that's for sure. I don't think him playing 2B is out of the question though. We got a lot of positive feedback about him and it seems like his bat would be fine there.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Guys, the pendulum swung hard back in the other direction for Lance McCullers Jr. this summer - starting the year as the top 1-2 prospect in the land and now checking in at #9. While some teams will be scared off by his not-ideal size (which he has little control over), how did he fair this year in regards to his command and the effort in his delivery?

Conor Glassey: I actually thought his delivery looked a little better this summer than it has in the past and the stuff is still nasty. You're right, Joe, that his size will scare some teams away - but so will the fact that he just hasn't pitched a lot (can be taken two ways) and the fact that his control comes and goes. I like McCullers better than Stetson Allie and think he has a better chance to start than Stetson but he's not Dylan Bundy. So, I think 9 is a fair spot for him.

    Roger (Greenville, SC): What are the major strengths and weaknesses of this class?

Nathan Rode: I see a lot of depth, upside and athleticism in this HS class. Guys in the Top 15 are obvious, but then you look at guys like OFs Lewis Brinson, Nick Williams, Rhett Wiseman, Jameis Winston; IFs Addison Russell, Rio Ruiz and Carson Kelly and Ps Lucas Sims, Duane Underwood, Hunter Virant and Ty Hensley. There's a lot to like in players like that. All high school prospects come with risk, but there are a lot of loud tools among this list. As for weakness...catching. High school catchers already face a tough road, but there isn't much depth at the position this year. I won't say the prep lefties are weak because of the top guys in Smoral, Fried, Virant and Kirby, but there's a big drop off after that.

    big D (Irvine): What state has the best high schoolers for 2012? Is CA. on a down-year?

Conor Glassey: Well, California has the most guys in this top 100 (25) followed by Florida (16), Texas (10), Georgia (7) and Washington (4). We'll see how things shake out this spring!

Conor Glassey: Ok, well that's it for us. Thanks for all the great questions and for supporting Baseball America. Make sure to follow us both on Twitter @conorglassey & @BAHighSchool and pre-order your Prospect Handbook. Keep checking back to BaseballAmerica.com throughout the week for more Organization Top 10 lists and chats and the College Top 100 is coming soon!