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January 11, 2013

Perfect Game World Showcase Top Prospects

Top Talent from the Class of 2013 and 2014

by David Rawnsley

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On December 5, 2012, Baseball Prospectus and Perfect Game announced a partnership to help promote and cover the game at both the amateur and professional levels. As a result of this partnership, Baseball Prospectus subscribers will now get the opportunity to read some of the great premium content being published by Perfect Game for its members. Today, courtesy of Perfect Game, we bring you this special report by David Rawnsley.

Class of 2013

C Jon Denney (Yukon HS, Yukon, OK): Denney was outstanding in every aspect of the game and solidified his credentials as a potential first round pick in this outstanding national group of high school catchers. He doesn’t have an obvious weakness in his game defensively and has one of the best bats in the class regardless of position.
 
SS Jan Hernandez (Carlos Beltran Baseball Acadmey, San Lorenzo, PR): The PG All-American was suffering from flu-like symptoms and wasn’t at the top of his game this weekend, just flashing his potential first round tools. Scouts know what he can do.
 
1B/OF Nick Longhi (Venice HS, Venice, FL): Longhi will be playing outfield and pitching this spring, in large part due to his strong arm that hit 91 mph in drills and 89 mph as a southpaw on the mound, but he sure looked smooth around the first base bag. His bat and power potential are already well established.
 
3B Ian Hagenmiller (Palm Beach Central HS, West Palm Beach, FL): Hagenmiller could be a big surprise this spring and in the June draft. He has two plus tools in his bat speed and his throwing arm and he performs. He resembles former Diamondbacks first round pick and current top prospect 3B Matt Davidson in many ways, with better defensive tools.
 
RHP Dustin Hagy (Deltona Christian Academy, Deland, FL): The 6-6/205 Hagy has been creating a stir in the scouting community recently as he’s bumped his velocity up from the mid-80’s during the summer to 89-92 in Fort Myers to go with a very solid curveball. Maybe most impressive was his command and competitiveness on the mound; this young man does not back down.
 
C/RHP Ronnie Healy (Jupiter HS, Jupiter FL): Healy looked very good defensively behind the plate and has always been well regarded for his left handed power potential. He’s starting to intrigue scouts as a two-way prospect, too, as he was 89-92 mph off the mound in Fort Myers and reportedly has been up to 94 mph in workouts with scouts recently.
 
LHP Nestor Cortez (Hialeah HS, Hialeah, FL): Cortez’ performance reminded numerous people of Nationals LHP Gio Gonzalez, due both to Cortez’s strong 5-11/195 build and delivery and his 89-92 mph fastball. While Cortez didn’t have Gonzalez nasty curveball, he did show a solid 3-pitch mix and advanced command.
 
OF/SS Johneshwy Fargas (Puerto Rico Baseball Academy, Trujillo Alto, PR): It will be interesting to follow the debate in the spring about whether the fleet footed (6.57), strong armed Fargas is a shortstop or centerfielder. We’d vote centerfield at this point but the right handed hitter is a standout athlete at either position.
 
SS Edwin Diaz (Ladislao Martinez Otero HS, Vega Alta, PR): Diaz looks bigger and stronger than his 6-2/180 list but has the grace and smooth actions that you see on only the best athletes. He didn’t show his big middle of the field power as much as we’ve seen in the past, but everyone knows it’s there.
 
SS Connor Heady (North Oldham HS, Prospect, KY): Heady plays the game easily and with great feel for what’s going on around him, which make his tools play up. When he’s really going to improve is when he starts getting stronger, which hasn’t really happened yet.
 
C Luis Ciuro (Montverde Academy, Santa Isabel, PR): Ciuro’s name isn’t mentioned often among the top prospect catchers in the 2013 class but that perhaps should change. He is a very quick twitch athlete in the Chris Okey mold who could probably stand out at most positions on the field.
 
3B/RHP Roy Morales (Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, San Juan, PR): Scouts seem to be really on the 50/50 fence about whether Morales has a brighter future as a power hitting third baseman or a right handed pitcher. While the PG staff still likes him as a position player, it’s hard not to appreciate his upper 80’s fastball and very solid curveball/change up combination, especially considering his lack of experience on the mound.
 
SS Brody Weiss (Regis Jesuit HS, Castle Rock, CO): Weiss looks like he’s gained 10-15 pounds of muscle since the summer and it shows in his bat speed and athleticism. He really swung the bat well and improves every time we see him. Don’t forget the bloodlines, either.
 
OF-C Eric Williams (Sachse HS, Rowlett, TX): Williams 95+ mph arm strength from the outfield is a well-known plus tool but he impressed more with athleticism and consistent hard contact at the plate. The Texan also intrigued by working out behind the plate and showing he might have a future there.
 
RHP Joe Jimenez (Puerto Rican Baseball Academy, Bayamon, PR): Jimenez unveiled an upper 70s slider that he didn’t throw at the Caribbean Showcase last month and also jumped his velocity up to 90-93 mph. He keeps getting better in all aspects of his game.
 
RHP Taylor Blatch (Jensen Beach HS, Stuart, FL): Blatch looked very solid, working in the 89-92 mph range with a very nice live change up and effective upper 70s slider. He’s a rare 5-11 right hander who scouts should get excited by due to his easy mechanics and downhill angle to the plate.
 
C Carlos Diaz (Grandview Prep, Bayamon, PR): Diaz doesn’t always stand out physically, especially with his middle infielder’s body, but he has very good overall tools and plays the game with an energy and enthusiasm that few can match. Plus he always seems to hit the ball hard against good pitching.
 
SS Alexander Rivera (Puerto Rican Baseball Academy, Arecibo, PR): There is a group of Puerto Rican middle infield prospects just a notch below the Jan Hernandez/Edwin Diaz level that is very talented and a couple of them are going to emerge as top level prospects. Rivera, who runs a 6.57 and has a 90 mph infield arm, could be the one.
 
IF Hunter Hope (William Dwyer HS, Jupiter, FL): Hope is yet another exhibit of a player who has gained lots of strength in the last year. He’s now a big 200 pound power hitter who put on a real show in batting practice and demonstrated home run lift that we hadn’t seen before. It’s probably time to start thinking of him as a third baseman/corner outfielder instead of a middle infielder, however.
 
C Kevin Abraham (Mater Academy, Miramar, FL): Abraham really performed well all weekend and he’s the type of player who is best evaluated in games anyway. He squared up the ball strongly almost every at bat and especially excelled with his ability to make strong and accurate game throws in a variety of game situations.
 
RHP Hunter Martin (Blackman HS, Murfreesboro, TN): Martin has a fast arm from an over the top arm slot and topped out at 92 mph. The Tennessee commit throws both a low 70’s curveball and 80 mph slider.
 
C Rene Melendez (Caguas Military and Sports Academy, Humacao, PR): Melendez’s defensive skills and tools have been touted by PG before but it looked like Melendez has been working hard on his swing, which was shorter and faster than it was a month ago.
 
1B/OF Juan Soriano (Pro Baseball Academy, Arroyo, PR): Soriano is a right handed hitting Justin Williams clone in his build and facial characteristics, not to mention strength. He’s prone to swing and miss but when he squares up he hits the ball as hard as anyone in the 2013 class.
 
IF Malik Collymore (Port Credit SS, Mississauga, ON): Collymore’s eventual defensive position is still to be determined but there isn’t much question that he’s a top level hitting prospect. He barrel whistles through the zone and he left observers with a “Wow” reaction after batting practice. The North Carolina State signee could be the best Canadian in the 2013 class.
 
C Karl Ellison (Barron Collier HS, Naples, FL): The Vanderbilt signee had a very strong showcase both offensively, where his short swing and overall strength produced consistent hard line drive contact, and defensively, where his blocking skills and high energy motor stood out.
 
OF Dalton Duty (Palatka HS, Palatka, FL): Duty is another player who has gained 10+ pounds of very positive muscle since the summer and translated that to a grade better bat speed and athleticism.
 
OF/1B Steven Sensley (LSU Laboratory HS, Baton Rouge, LA): Sensley bears an uncommon resemblance to top prospect Dominic Smith in his build and actions and his tools are pretty good, too. He isn’t very well known to scouts but that will change soon.
 
RHP/1B Jextin Pugh (Bishop Guilfoyle HS, Duncansville, PA): Pugh is a physically imposing 6-3/225 left handed hitting first baseman with big power potential but we’re not so sure he isn’t a better prospect as a right handed pitcher. He sat at 88-90 mph with pinpoint control of his fastball and a sharp breaking curveball.
 
OF Jordan Austin (Forest HS, Ocala, FL): Austin is a strong 6-0/195 athlete with 6.79 speed who really swung the bat well all weekend, including a big game home run on Sunday. He interestingly doesn’t have a college commitment yet.
 
OF Miguel Castellanos (Elev8 Academy, Delray Beach, FL): The 6-3/190 Castellanos is a relative unknown to the prospect lists but his strong build and top level run/throw tools (6.65/94 mph OF arm) warrant immediate attention. He gets too inside the ball often at the plate but flashes his bat speed when he gets extended and attacks a pitch.
 
Class of 2014
 
SS-RHP Nicholas Gordon (Olympia HS, Windemere, FL): Gordon had a phenomenal showcase while playing among the older prospects, both with his elite level defense in the infield and by topping out at a personal PG best 94 mph on the mound. He’s a rare player with both top tools and the highest level instincts and feel for the game.
 
1B Jeremy Vasquez (Martin County HS, Palm City, FL): Vasquez is one of the best hitters in the 2014 class and simply squares the ball up hard virtually every time he comes to the plate. Some hitters just see the ball and can square it up better than others and the left handed hitting Florida commit is one of them.
 
RHP Jordan Baker (Sebring HS, Sebring, FL): Baker has a lot of Jered Weaver in his pitching mechanics and raw stuff. He has an extremely long and whippy arm action with an extended mid-3/4’s release point to go with an 88-91 mph fastball and a big sweeping 74-77 mph curveball.
 
RHP Jesse Lepore (Trinity Catholic HS, Beverly Hills, FL): Lepore and Kyle Kemp (below) did double duty at the National Underclass Main Event last weekend and at the World Showcase. Both were extremely consistent the two weeks, with Lepore throwing in the 88-90 mph range and showing very good feel for his low 70’s curveball.
 
RHP Kyle Kemp (Port Charlotte HS, Port Charlotte, FL): Kemp has a very good feel for pitching for a junior power pitcher and locates his 88-90 mph fastball well. He’ll need to pick up some velocity on his curveball but he gets good spin on it and locates it well, too.
 
OF-RHP Luis Alvarado (Montverde Academy, Salinas, PR):  The 6-5/185 Alvarado is a very intriguing athlete who is as projectable as anyone you will see.  He runs a 6.79 and throws 93 mph from the outfield and is a switch-hitter with a loose, whippy swing.  It's hard not to think that he may really develop as a pitcher though when he gets stronger, as he already throws in the upper 80s consistently.
 
SS Milton Ramos (Florida Christian HS, Hialeah Gardens, FL): Ramos was “promoted” from the National Underclass Session 3 event to fill a roster vacancy and ran with the opportunity, standing out for his overall athleticism and tools.
 
SS Alexis Pantojas (Puerto Rican Baseball Academy, Vega Alta, PR): The left handed hitting Pantojas is being touted as potentially the top 2014 Puerto Rican prospect and his actions and ability to perform back that up. He’ll need to add strength to his high waisted 6-0/148 build between now and then, however.
 
Latin American Prospects
 
3B-1B Rafael Devers (Samana, Dominican Republic): Devers’ reputation as a hitter preceded him into the World Showcase and the 16 year old left handed hitter did nothing to disappoint. He’s a hitting prodigy with both bat speed and an uncanny understanding and feel for hitting for his age. Devers at bat against RHP Dustin Hagy Saturday night, which ended in a fly ball after about a 15-pitch battle, was a classic.
 
LHP Jacob Constante (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic): Constante is a rarity, an 18-year old Dominican who has been eligible to sign for two years but hasn’t. He’s a very interesting and difficult pitcher to evaluate, with a 90-94 mph fastball and a change up he couldn’t throw for strikes, but a nasty 88-90 mph cutter and a plus 80-82 mph curveball that he could command. He has a very high ceiling if he can learn to command the straight stuff.
 
OF Jose Almonte (Dominican Republic): Almonte is another 16 year old with an extremely high offensive ceiling as a right handed hitter with plus power potential. He also threw 95 mph from the outfield and it would not be surprising to see him with a 100+ mph outfield arm at some point in the future.
 
OF Manuel Sanchez (Dominican Republic): Sanchez and Almonte are essentially the same type of athlete with similar tools and physical builds, with Sanchez being a year older and possessing more of a left field type arm. But his bat is high prospect level, no doubt.
Related Content:  Prospects,  Perfect Game,  World Showcase

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