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November 2, 2012

Scouting the Draft

Baseball Prospectus Travels to Jupiter

by Dan Evans, Nick J. Faleris, Joe Hamrahi and Jason Parks

Introduction

This past weekend marked the annual occurrence of the largest, and most widely attended, event on the amateur scouting circuit: the World Wood Bat Association World Championship, hosted by Perfect Game USA. While Baseball Prospectus evaluators have attended the event in other capacities through their ties to the game, this was the first (but certainly not the last) year the publication sent an official group of representatives. A four-man team comprised of Dan Evans, Nick Faleris, Joe Hamrahi and Jason Parks took to the fields at the Roger Dean Complex in Jupiter, Florida and returned with some interesting on-field observations which the BP team would like to pass on to you.  

For those who are unfamiliar with the annual October tournament, the simplest way to convey the experience is to say the event is unique in the purest sense of the word: solitary in type and characteristics. Nowhere else will you find over 80 of the best amateur travel teams playing simultaneously on 13 fields over five days. Nowhere else will you see baseball fields lined with dozens of golf carts filled with pro and collegiate evaluators. Nowhere else will you see a squad in highlighter yellow uniforms taking on another team clothed in purple, black and grey camouflaged jerseys. It is an experience unto itself, and one that evaluators throughout the game mark as a “must attend.”

Perfect Game’s final tournament on the annual scouting calendar is routinely attended by hundreds of scouts and college coaches, this year totaling around 400 pro evaluators and 200 collegiate reps (our estimates). That is a testament to the quality of teams and players attending, as well as an indication as to how important it is to be able to see the top-tier talents facing one another in a true tournament setting over multiple days. While there are inevitably some draft prospects not in attendance due to fall football commitments, injury, or simply shutting down for the winter, there is never a shortage of impact players on display and we will likely see at least ten major league baseball cards out of this year’s crop alone.  

While Super Storm Sandy did her best to play havoc with the scheduling, the staff at Perfect Game and the Marlins/Cardinals grounds crew at the Roger Dean Complex were true professionals, ensuring the successful completion of many more games than could reasonably have been expected. The ultimate result was another successful WWBA World Championship, lots of great baseball and five more days of unique baseball memories. What follows is an accumulation of scouting notes from the BP team in various forms; we hope you find them to your liking and we hope to be able to provide more scouting analysis at the amateur level as Baseball Prospectus continues to expand our reach.  

One note: This piece focuses only on players at the tournament who are eligible for the 2013 draft. We will have a follow-up piece (or pieces) on underclassmen to keep an eye on, including two of the tournament’s most impressive players: 2014’s Touki Toussaint (RHP, Coral Springs Christian Academy (FL)) and 2015’s Dazmon Cameron (OF, Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy (GA)).

Player Spotlight: Dominic Smith

Dominic Smith | 1B/OF/LHP | Serra HS (Los Angeles, CA)
6-foot-1/200 pounds | left/left profile | draft day age 17y 11m | Univ. of Southern California commit

Smith entered the WWBA World Championship as a potential 1st rounder with some heat off the strength of his summer showcase performances. A member of last year’s Marlin’s Scout Team (which is where I had my first extended looks at the talented Smith), he spent the 2012 Perfect Game tourney with Yak Baseball West-GBG, where he logged time at first base, in the outfield and even behind the plate (where he popped a 1.84 to second base per Joe Hamrahi and a couple of Perfect Game scouts).

 

 

Smith began to gain traction on the mound late in the summer, where he now sits 90-92 mph from the left side, boasting an intriguing upside and a strong, athletic body providing an ample lump of clay with which a developmental staff could work. Last weekend’s tournament, however, reminded everyone just how impressive Smith’s offensive skillset is. Here’s what the BP scouting contingent saw:

One of the elite position players in his class, he was the talk of the tourney after catching on the backfields in a consolation game. By the way, he’s a southpaw. Has Gold Glove potential at first base and well above average arm. Left-handed bat is outstanding, uses other field as well as any hitter in his class, and is starting to display power. Versatile; likes to play. Enjoyed watching him try to keep his bat dry in one of the weekend’s frequent visits by Hurricane Sandy, tucked it under his arm and jersey until the last moment. USC Commit.–Dan Evans

Had the best pure swing in the tournament. It was fluid and smooth, and he barreled just about everything he hit. Smith went the other way with authority and is a scout’s dream of a hitter. The kid can do just about everything, including catch; registered a pop time of 1.84.–Joe Hamrahi

Impressive physique, good tapered frame; big league body; clean swing with line drive ability pole-to-pole; pull side power but still learning to implement in-game; could develop legit playable power across field with time and reps; picks at first as well as any amateur I’ve seen; footspeed not ideal for outfield, even in a corner; will save runs at first base; plus make-up; USC commit; profiles well as Day 1 bat; a kid you draft with no concerns about his adjustment to pro ball on and off the field.–Nick Faleris

Team Spotlight: East Cobb Baseball

On Monday afternoon, East Cobb Baseball was crowned champion after coasting to an 8-2 win over runner-up Chet Lemon’s Juice. Consistently one of the top producers of elite prep talent, the Georgia-based program did not disappoint this year with a handful of high follows for the 2013 draft in addition to some underclassmen to keep an eye on. Here are scouting notes from Dan and Jason on four 2013 draft eligibles who led the way for ECP:

Josh Hart | OF | Parkview HS (Lilburn, GA)
6-foot-3/190 pounds | left/left profile | draft day age 18y 7mo | Georgia Tech commit

True center fielder with instincts, speed, and mature bat for age. Open stance, ran 4.0-4.14 [home-to-first]. Above average range, average arm. Good feel for strike zone. Hung in extremely well against multiple southpaws. High draft who'll remain in middle of diamond.–Dan Evans

Wesley Jones | SS | Redan HS (Stone Mountain, GA)
6-foot-2/180 pounds | right/right profile | draft day age 17y 10mo | Univ. of Georgia commit

Monster player; physical; athletic; played with strength and coordination on both sides of the ball; actions at shortstop were clean and easy; gobbled up the easy plays; made a few difficult ones; controls his body very well; lacks plus range; 5 runner; bigger second gear, but slow accelerator and slow times to 1B (4.7 range); arm is a 7; quick release and accurate; fearless player over the base; instincts are obvious;  profiles better at 3B because of limited range; has quick stroke at the plate; works opposite field; controls the barrel and can stay back on pitches; makes loud contact and can really drive the ball; hit tool impressed me; power was hard to read, but bat speed and strength were present; made big plays in big games; won tournament MVP; shows more now skills than big projections; I saw a future big leaguer.–Jason Parks

Brian Navarreto | C/OF | Arlington Country Day HS (Jacksonville, FL)
6-foot-3/200 pounds | right/right profile | draft day age 18y 5mo | Uncommitted

Outstanding catching prospect with impressive energy and tools. First guy out, first guy in dugout. Showed 60+ arm with accuracy and loved to use it. Great frame (6'3" 200 lbs). Quick bat. Aggressive with intangibles.–Dan Evans

Travis Demeritte | 3B/RHP | Winder Barrow HS (Winder, GA)
6-foot-1/185 pounds | right/right profile | draft day age 18y 8mo | Univ. of South Carolina commit

Wow player; very high baseball IQ; very easy to see on-the-field leadership skills and work ethic; plays the game with purpose and passion; athletic, with fluid movements; played a very good third base; clean actions; good reactions and feel; covered a lot of ground; arm is a 7; makes every play he can get to; remarkable field awareness; if he played shortstop I’d call him a no doubt first round talent; bat flashed some potential; bat speed was present; likes to pull the ball; shows power potential; love the hands; love the approach; doesn’t get cheated; speed is only average, with home-to-first times in the 4.3 range; good second-gear and base running ability; total gamer; bat is probably only average, but has legit pop, good defensive profile at 3B, and well above-average feel for the game; he’s a likely candidate to over-perform projection; future major leaguer; will be around game forever.–Jason Parks

Double Takes: 2013 Player Notes

Informal thoughts on twelve additional 2013 draft eligibles from last weekend:

Rowdy Tellez | 1B/OF| Elk Grove HS (Elk Grove, CA)
6-foot-5/250 pounds | left/left profile | draft day age 18y 3mo | Univ. of Southern California commit

First Take:  Anyone who knows me knows I love big-bodied first basemen who can really mash. Team Elite’s Rowdy Tellez fits that profile. Tellez is 6-foot-5, 250 pounds and one imposing player. He’s very athletic and drives the ball with authority. Tellez still has holes in his swing and can be busted inside with heat, but if he makes contact, the ball travels.–Joe Hamrahi

Second Take:  Every time I see this player, I like him a little bit more. Left handed hitter has outstanding raw power, the ball jumps off his bat, and he hits it a long way the other way too. In best shape that I have seen him, had quality at-bats throughout tourney.–Dan Evans

Carlos Salazar | RHP | Kerman HS (Kerman, CA)
6-foot-2/205 pounds | right/right profile | draft day age 18y 6mo | California St. Univ.-Fresno commit

 

 

Video courtesy of Perfect Game USA.

First Take:  Thick build; fast arm from three-quarter slot; created good angle; delivery had effort; showed big leverage with plant and jerk mechanics; didn’t have Scherzer-like recoil or follow-through, but initial set-up and execution were similar; fastball was crisp and worked 93-95 (touched 96 mph, but not in the zone), with a few 90 mph offerings mixed in; command was spotty, missing high to both the arm side and glove side; was falling under the ball; changeup was secondary pitch of choice, working in wide range between 80-87 mph; pitched had decent fading action at 84 mph and flashed potential; was able to hit 95 mph out of the stretch; huge arm strength; delivery with runners on was sub-1.3; very intrigued based on arm strength alone; flashed electric fastball, but delivery was problematic and violent and command/control was poor.–Jason Parks

Second Take:  Relatively unknown prior to the tourney, but this Central California native brought big fastball (92-95 mph) to the hill from a high-three-quarter slot. Velocity oriented, jumped at hitters and has funky leg drag. Average life on well above average fastball, but needs to develop secondary stuff, which currently consists of a changeup and slider that are each tipped by slowing down. Pitched up in the zone a lot, but there is a lot to work with here, and lack of power arms in 2013 class makes him really interesting.–Dan Evans

Austin Meadows | OF| Grayson HS (Grayson, GA)
6-foot-3/205 pounds | left/left profile | draft day age 18y 1mo | Clemson Univ. commit

First Take: Standout size; looks like a young Josh Hamilton in a uniform (aesthetics only); high-end athlete; easy plus speed; good arm; shows easy power with flick of the wrists; hit tool was underwhelming in small sample; swing wasn’t short to the ball; took time to loop into zone; stayed too tall and lost lower-half; didn’t crush average stuff; didn’t dominate on either side of the ball; looks the part of five-tool first rounder, but didn’t stand out in game action.–Jason Parks

Second Take: Games were heavily attended by scouting directors, a sign that he enters the final eight months high on clubs’ draft boards. Impressive frame. Don't see as center fielder. Good feel for strike zone. Left handed hitter did not have big production when I was at diamond. Aggressive approach, good athlete. Looking forward to seeing more of him.–Dan Evans

Terry McClure | OF | Riverwood Int’l Charter School (Sandy Springs, GA)
6-foot-2/190 pounds | right/right profile | draft day age 17y8mo | Georgia Tech commit

 

 

First Take: McClure makes solid contact, hits for power, and can flat our run. Reminds me a lot of a young Jose Reyes both in ability and stature. He’s committed to Georgia Tech, but my guess is he’ll never become a Yellow Jacket.–Joe Hamrahi

Second Take: Really raised stock over past four months; bat beginning to manifest some pop in-game; plenty of speed to swipe the extra base and displays solid selective aggressiveness in doing so; chance for plus defensive profile; high follow for spring with chance for Day 1 attention; big weekend in front of decision makers.–Nick Faleris

Nick Longhi | 1B/OF/LHP | Venice Senior HS (Venice, FL)
6-foot-2/210 pounds | right/left profile | draft day age 17y 10mo | Louisiana St. Univ. commit

First Take: Flat-out rakes; can hit balls to all fields; hard contact; shows both hit tool and power potential; lacks much athleticism or defensive value; will be bat-only prospect; bat has plus potential because of strength/bat speed and natural ability to put the barrel on the ball. Really nice hitter.–Jason Parks

Second Take: Continues to show leverage in swing with a chance to develop into true plus power threat; can struggle some with top tier velo, but more swing-related than bat speed, so fixable; strong build; needs to hit but solid chance he will.–Nick Faleris

Jeremy Martinez | C/3B | Mater Dei HS (Santa Ana, CA)
5-foot-10/190 pounds | right/right profile | draft day age 18y 5mo | Univ. of Southern California commit

 

 

First Take: The real deal. Martinez has a rocket arm and great footwork behind the dish, a good eye at the plate and gap power to all fields. Easily a day one 2013 draft pick in my book.–Joe Hamrahi

Second Take: Big competitor; focused; really liked the arm behind the plate; footwork was a little heavy, but achieved proper throwing position and was able to show a sub-2 pop; easy plus arm; good receiver; intelligent player; good stick; chases above the letters, but has bat speed and barreling ability; uses hands well; has some gap pop; really good looking player; saw more 3B action than behind the plate; lacks speed; below-average range; big arm capable of big plays; actions didn’t stand out; focused when on-the-field; games and competes; shows leadership skills.–Jason Parks

Jan Alexis Hernandez | SS | Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy (Florida, P.R.)
6-foot-3/190 pounds | right/right profile | draft day age 17y 5mo | Uncommitted

First Take: Long-limbed, athletic body reminds me of a young Alex Rodriguez frame in short look. Soft feet with plus arm, appears to have skills to remain at short. Highly touted infielder, looks the part, right handed bat.–Dan Evans

Second Take: Good frame; clean actions in the infield; footwork plays around the bag; left side arm; collegiate shortstop and has chance to stick at pro ranks if he doesn’t get too big; power potential; natural lift; delivers barrel well; average runner likely slows as body matures; game projects across the board.–Nick Faleris

Tyler Danish | RHP/3B | Durant HS (Plant City, FL)
6-foot-0/170 pounds | right/right profile | draft day age 18y 9mo | Univ. of Florida commit

 

 

First Take: Velo up from East Coast Pro (89-91 mph now 90-93 mph); very heavy fastball missing bats now and should produce lots of soft contact in the future; upper-70s slider could be plus down the line and he shows high level of comfort with the pitch; questionable starter profile due to size and some effort, but chance for quality two-pitch attack; sits as early-ish Day 2 arm now.–Nick Faleris

Second Take: Probably the most consistent hurler throughout the tournament with a fastball that hovered in the 92-94 range. While only 6-foot, 170 pounds, Danish used a quick hand exchange and a very deceptive motion to fool hitters. He reminded me a lot of Roger McDowell.–Joe Hamrahi

John Paul (J.P.) Crawford | SS | Lakewood HS (Lakewood, CA)
6-foot-2/180 pounds | left/right profile | draft day age 18y 5mo | Univ. of Southern California commit

First Take: Excellent candidate to improve defensive profile with reps and pro instruction; easy left-side arm with accuracy; average runner out of the box, routinely clocking 4.2 to first; improved at bats from beginning of summer; good hands and improving ability to barrel; potential early-round pick that could be top ten overall type talent with three years of college ball under his belt (unlikely to end-up on campus given up-the-middle profile).–Nick Faleris

Second Take: Made the best defensive play of the weekend, turning a low rocket deep in the hole into a 6-4-3 double play with a great stop, quick pop-up, and outstanding feed. Would have been a Web Gem in a big league game. Bat is maturing. Has frame and skills to remain at short. Keeps improving, left-handed hitter.–Dan Evans

Austin Nicely | LHP/1B/OF | Spotswood HS (Penn Laird, VA)
6-foot-2/175 pounds | both/left profile | draft day age 18y 6mo | Univ. of Virginia commit

 

 

First Take: Tossed a couple of relief innings, and was impressive, showing a polished arm with upside. Lefty was 88-90 mph with above average arm-side life, downer 80 mph breaking ball, and plus 77/78 changeup with sink. Liked this guy a lot, feel will gain strength on frame.–Dan Evans

Second Take: Projectable frame and projectable stuff; type of arm Coach O’Connor and staff turn into a force; lively fastball currently 88-90 mph bumping 91 once up but in the zone; shows some feel for changeup and tight curveball; could wield three average or better Major League offerings in time.–Nick Faleris

Matthew McPhearson | OF | Riverdale Baptist School (Upper Marlboro, MD)
5-foot-10/170 pounds | left/left profile | draft day age 18y 2mo | Univ. of Miami commit

First Take: Explosive, athletic player with tools. Showed solid pitch recognition throughout tourney, collected big hits all weekend. Ran everything out hard. Took ball up the middle. Outstanding range to either side, looks like pure center patcher.–Dan Evans

Second Take: Made one of the best defensive plays of the tournament ranging to right-center gap with impressive closing speed and body control through sliding catch; above-average to plus runner in field but slower out of box with 4.15-4.22 times to first from left side; improving at bats; works best gap to gap as slasher; hit tool projection unclear, but starter kit for solid lead-off hitter with plus defense in center.–Nick Faleris

Jonah Wesely | LHP | Tracy HS (Tracy, CA)
6-foot-2/215 pounds | left/left profile | draft day age 17y 8mo | Univ. of California-Los Angeles commit

 

 

Video courtesy of Perfect Game USA.

First Take: Had excellent outing on Saturday and identified himself as one of the best southpaws in next June’s class. Four pitch guy who goes in on both LHH and RHH, pitches in all four quadrants, and has two solid average to above-breaking balls, each with depth. Great kid. Strike thrower, rebounded from end-of-summer struggles well, body in really good shape. Fastball 88-92 mph with bore. Swing and miss curve. Muscular lower half, uses third base side of rubber from high-three-quarters slot.–Dan Evans

Second Take: Missed start but received glowing reports from multiple evaluators; four pitches that all project; chance for three to four above-average offerings; may have best blend of “now” stuff and projection of all 2013 high school lefties; commanding presence on mound; belongs there and knows it; spring will determine ultimate stock, but capped 2012 showcase circuit on high note.–Nick Faleris

BP’s Best
To wrap up our thoughts on the 2013’s, each of the BP team members picked a top pitcher and top position player from the 2013 class, with results as follows:

Best Pitcher:
Jonah Wesely | LHP | Tracy HS (CA) | UCLA commit (2 votes)
Jake Brentz | OF/LHP | Parkway South HS (MO) | Jefferson College commit
Devin Williams | RHP | Hazelwood West HS (MO) | Univ. of Missouri commit

Best Position Player:
Dominic Smith | 1B/OF/LHP | Serra HS (CA) | Univ. of Southern Calif. commit
Justin Williams | OF | Terrebonne HS (LA) | LSU commit
Travis Demeritte | 3B/RHP | Winder Barrow HS (GA) | Univ. of South Carolina commit
Wesley Jones | SS | Redan HS (GA) | Univ. of Georgia commit

Dan Evans is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Dan's other articles. You can contact Dan by clicking here
Nick J. Faleris is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Nick's other articles. You can contact Nick by clicking here
Joe Hamrahi is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here
Jason Parks is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

Related Content:  Draft,  Prospects,  Scouting,  Amateur

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