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June 4, 2013

Perfect Game Presents

MLB Draft Prospect Reports 51-100

by Allan Simpson

Perfect Game's Draft Prospects 26-50 and 1-25 will be published on Wednesday, followed by a final mock draft on Thursday. You can find all of the amateur draft coverage available at BP through the central hub here.

51. DUSTIN PETERSON, ss, Gilbert HS (Ariz.)
Peterson is the younger brother of University of New Mexico third baseman D.J. Peterson, considered one of the 2-3 best hitting prospects in the 2013 draft class and a near-lock to go in the first round. Almost every Arizona scout whiffed on the elder Peterson’s potential with the bat in 2010 when he played at Gilbert High, and they appear determined not to make the same mistake on Dustin, who has many of his brother’s offensive skills and by all accounts is a more complete talent at comparable stages of their careers. He, too, has a strong, quick swing with plenty of thunder in his bat, can consistently square up balls to the gaps, and projects to hit for true home-run power as he fills out his 6-foot-1, 180-pound frame.

Through games of late April, Peterson was hitting a resounding .549-10-39. In addition to being on par with his brother as a hitter, Peterson is seen as the more athletic of the two, and also possesses softer hands and greater arm strength and moves more freely in the field. Peterson has a fair chance to stay in the middle of the field at the next level, at least initially, but big-league teams would be investing in his bat and power potential and acknowledge that his worth would not be compromised if he eventually shifts to a corner. Unlike his brother, who was lightly recruited by in-state colleges, was a token 33rd-round pick of the Seattle Mariners three years ago out of the same high school, and chose to pursue a college career in neighboring New Mexico, Dustin is committed to attend Arizona State.

52. TRAVIS DEMERITTE, 3b, Winder Barrow HS, Statham (Ga.)
The versatile third baseman/right-handed pitcher has had an outstanding spring both at the plate and on the mound for 18-4 Winder Barrow High School. Demeritte has benefited from the proximity of Clint Frazier in particular, as scouts have been remarking that Demeritte’s raw bat speed is only a shade below Frazier’s, high praise that is indicative of where Demeritte’s draft stock has gone over the last couple of months.

53. CHAD PINDER, 3b/ss, Virginia Tech (Jr.)
In a draft class full of high-risk college players, Pinder makes a compelling case in the early rounds as a safe bet. The 6-foot-2, 192 pound infielder has been a consistent performer for Virginia Tech for three years now, and placed himself on the map as an elite draft pick last summer in Cape Cod. A third baseman with excellent hands and range, Pinder may profile better up the middle, specifically at second base, as a pro. He’s more of an average hitter than a player who is going to put up big power numbers, and he certainly has the skill set to play up the middle. His swing is short and quick to the ball, and he’s proven he can recognize and handle quality breaking pitches. He’s also shown scouts an excellent batting eye and a decent rate of contact. He’s a step above average speed-wise as well. That well-rounded skill-set, plus another high quality spring in 2013, should keep Pinder inside the top two rounds.

54. TREVOR WILLIAMS, rhp, Arizona State University
Williams was dominant out of the ASU bullpen as a freshman and made an easy transition to a starting role as a sophomore, going 12-2, 2.05 with 13 walks and 59 strikeouts in 110 innings. When his velocity topped out at 95-96 mph in the first month of the 2013 season and he came out throwing strikes with three other pitches, there were high expectations that he would factor into the draft as a safe late first-round pick. But the 6-foot-3, 230-pound right-hander hasn't sustained his early-season pace, and was 5-3, 3.30 through his first 11 starts, with 13 walks and 55 strikeouts in 79 innings. Scouts have picked up a subtle mechanical adjustment in Williams’ otherwise smooth delivery, which has been ostensibly aimed at generating more power in his secondary pitches as he always has lacked a true swing-and-miss offering. In the process, he has lost velocity on his fastball, which has been typically 91-93 mph in the early innings to 88-91 throughout, and there hasn't been much improvement in his breaking stuff, though his 78-82 mph slider remains steady. Williams continues to throw strikes at a steady pace with his clean arm action, but may no longer command his stuff as well as he needs to for a pitcher who lacks overpowering raw stuff, and hitters have taken to making contact earlier in counts than in the past. As a result, his draft status has taken a modest hit, though he should still be an attractive target in the second or third rounds because of his impressive track record.

55. JOSH HART, of, Parkview HS, Lilburn (Ga.)
The speedy Hart has added some noticeable strength this spring and is driving the ball more frequently than he has in the past, including a drive at the Perfect Game High School Showdown in early April that almost left City of Palms Park at the 387-foot sign in right centerfield. That could get him up into the second round for many teams, as the speed, defense and game skills all play at a high level.

56. DUSTIN DRIVER, rhp, Wenatchee HS (Wash.)
Despite his obvious arm strength, Driver is fighting the historical apprehension of organizations to take 6-foot-1 right handers early, especially those coming out of the high school ranks. Driver has worked on several different breaking balls over the past year and has yet to develop one into the kind of put-away pitch that he'd need to warrant first round consideration. That said, his aggressive pitching style, arm strength and quality fastball-changeup combo should keep him in the top three rounds. He can touch the mid-90s with his fastball and works comfortably at 91-93 with good command to both sides. He showed promise with a cutter and slider late last summer, though both versions were still in the incubation stages, while his curveball is also a solid present pitch with some promise for the future.

57. KENT EMANUEL, lhp, University of North Carolina
Emanuel’s fastball rarely touches, much less tops 90 mph, but the 6-foot-4, 190-pound left-hander is considered a solid second-round candidate for this year’s draft on the strength of his extremely polished approach and exceptional feel for pitching, along with an impressive track record of success at the college level. In three seasons at Carolina, Emanuel has assembled a tidy 26-6, 1.99 mark overall with 63 walks and 256 strikeouts in a combined 293 innings. He has excelled without an above-average pitch in his repertoire, though he has excellent command of four solid-average pitches, including a fastball that generally resides at 87-89 mph but will occasionally reach 91-92. A 19th-round pick in 2010 out of a Georgia high school, Emanuel gets excellent deception and extension in his long, athletic frame, but it’s his ability to add and subtract from his pitches like a veteran, along with his poise and presence on the mound, that sets him apart. He profiles only as a bottom-of-the-rotation starter at the next level, but has a high probability of reaching his ceiling.

58. CHRIS OKEY, c, Eustis HS (Fla.)
Of all the top high school prospects in Florida, Okey has probably done the most to solidify and improve his draft stock this spring. He’s hit .423-4-24, showing more power both in games and in workouts/batting practice than scouts thought was there in his 6-foot, 180-pound frame. He’s also excelled in other parts of the game, walking 16 times against only six strikeouts while stealing bases at a perfect 15-for-15 clip. The irony of that last number is that Okey has allowed only 10 runners to steal, while throwing out seven, in 25 games this spring.

59. JACOB BRENTZ, lhp, Parkway South HS, Ballwin, Missouri
Brentz’ evolution from a power-hitting outfielder being recruited by SEC schools to a mid-90s left-handed pitching prospect has been well documented, and is one of the most interesting sub-stories in the 2013 draft class. He has pitched in the PG Iowa Spring league over the past two months instead of playing for the Parkway South High School team, where he threw only three innings as a junior. Brentz’ spring has been somewhat uneven, completely understandable for an athlete with such limited pitching experience. He’s topped out at 97 mph with plus life at times and has consistently thrown in the 92-94 mph range. His changeup has also flashed as a plus pitch at times, and he has shown signs that his curveball can develop with more repetitions and a better feel for throwing it hard instead of slowing his arm on the pitch. At other times Brentz’ command has wavered and his off-speed stuff has not been a factor. Whoever does draft Brentz will be getting one of the best arms in the country but also one that will need a larger than normal amount of patience.

60. CAVAN BIGGIO, 3b/2b, St. Thomas HS, Houston (Texas)
A 2012 PG All-American, Biggio has had an outstanding spring and has converted many scouts who had doubts about whether his hit tool could overshadow his less impressive run and throw tools and his lack of a defined future position. He’s hitting .405-7-33 on the spring with an astounding 37-to-8 walk-to-strikeout ratio on the 24-6 St. Thomas team. There is ongoing intrigue and speculation about what role the hometown Astros might have in Biggio’s landing place, but his stock has risen enough this spring that scouts wonder whether he'll even last to the Astros' second pick at no. 40.

61. BLAKE TAYLOR, lhp, Dana Point HS (Calif.)
Taylor was a bit under the radar coming into the 2012 Area Code Games, after having sat out his junior season while transferring. That changed after his initial appearance, a quick 1-2-3 inning in which he topped out at 92 mph and spun a quality breaking ball. He threw another pair of quality innings, though he wasn't quite as electric as the one-inning appetizer suggested he would be. As the season has gone on, he's seen his velocity increase, having topped out at 95 mph. His curveball features plus spin and hard bite, and he's flashed a changeup that has good arm speed, but lacks enough velocity differential from his fastball to remain effective at the next level, though he has a good start on developing it. His development rate and young age relative to his graduating class suggest that Taylor still offers remaining projection, thus most view him as a high-upside lefty.

62. ANDREW KNAPP, c, California (Jr.)
A switch hitter with pop from both sides, Knapp was a 41st round pick of the Athletics coming out of Granite Bay High School in 2010. Knapp was used primarily as a DH up until this spring, and while he's still somewhat raw behind the plate, he offers solid catch and throw tools, suggesting he may have a chance to stick there with development. His power bat could make him a potential impact player if he can reach his upside as a switch hitting catcher with power from both sides. Teams that are bullish on the possibility will be interested in him early on, and he's helped himself out by hitting .351/.428/.541 through 40 games.

63. ALEX BALOG, rhp, University of San Francisco (Jr.)
Balog has followed a similar path of former teammate Kyle Zimmer (5th overall pick, 2012), enrolling at the University of San Francisco as a primary first baseman. A few years later he has emerged as a quality pitching prospect with the requisite size and stuff. He hasn't quite taken the step forward this spring that was hoped after his strong showing last summer with Team USA. However, he has done a good job of working out of trouble and eating through innings in spite of being hit more than expected given his raw stuff. While his stock is down at this point, Balog has good upside for the draft round that corresponds with this ranking position and could represent a good upside gamble.

64. JORDAN PAROUBECK, of, San Mateo Serra HS (Calif.)
Paroubeck has one of the highest ceilings in the state. He has a large, athletic frame that projects for significant strength gains, and he already boasts tremendous bat speed from both sides of the plate. Paroubeck has little experience playing outside of the bay area, and while he put on one of the best displays in batting practice at the 2012 Area Code Games, crushing the ball with authority from both sides, he didn't do much in his game at-bats against high level pitching. He also was recently overmatched by left handed pitcher Matt Krook in a head-to-head matchup this spring. So while you can really dream on the upside, Paroubeck is a bit of wild card for top-two-round consideration. No question he has talent to burn (also a well above average runner with good instincts and a solid arm), but he remains a bit of a mystery with his limited resume and a development trajectory that isn't very well known to scouts. But his peak ceiling is that of a five tool player who may be able to stick in centerfield, and if a club is confident that their player development staff can get him anywhere near that peak, they will likely give him serious first round consideration.

65. COLBY SUGGS, rhp, University of Arkansas (Jr.)
Suggs got off to a very slow start this spring as a strained oblique muscle led to command issues that resulted in 15 walks in his first 10 innings pitched. He’s since settled down and walked only 1 hitter in his last six innings and stands at 0-0, 1.72, with 10 saves (15-2/3 innings, 9 hits, 16 walks, 21 strikeouts) on the year. As a college closer Suggs presents all the normal challenges for scouts to evaluate in that demographic, made all the more difficult due to the fact that Suggs and his mid to upper-90s fastball have thrown just over 100 innings in his college career, spring and summer baseball combined. With his burly 6-foot, 225-pound build, his hyper-aggressive pitching style and two power pitches, no one is suggesting that Suggs fill any role but the short inning reliever.

66. TYLER SKULINA, rhp, Kent State University
The 6-foot-6, 225-pound Skulina was a high-profile prospect in 2010, entering his senior season of high school, but fell to the 46th round of that year’s draft because of a minor back injury that impacted his velocity, and firm college commitment to Virginia. Skulina ended up spending just one semester with the Cavaliers before transferring to Kent State, near his northern Ohio home. Though he had to sit out his freshman year with the Golden Flashes because of NCAA transfer rules, Skulina was a force a year ago as a sophomore, winning 11 games while leading Kent State to its first College World Series appearance. He has been more inconsistent this spring as Kent State’s Friday starter, going 5-3, 3.78 in his first 13 starts, with 31 walks and 86 strikeouts in 79 innings. But the strong, durable right-hander has had a handful of outings where he has showcased all the ingredients scouts look for in a first-rounder—and future big-league starter—with three solid-average to plus pitches, all delivered with a pronounced downhill tilt from a tough three-quarter angle. His fastball has been a steady 95-96 mph throughout with tailing movement into right-handed hitters, and he has complemented it with two quality breaking balls, including a hard, biting low-80s slider. Skulina has a better, more-balanced delivery than in high school, but is still prone to games when his velocity dips to 90-91 mph, he’ll struggle with his control and command, and hitters have little difficulty seeing his pitches and squaring him up. His inconsistency, along with the lack of an established changeup, will probably keep him out of the first round, but he should be a factor in the second.

67. DILLON OVERTON, lhp, University of Oklahoma (Jr.)
Overton’s overall status is up in the air after he went down with an inflamed elbow after a mid-week throwing session April 22. Initial reports were that he would miss two to four weeks and he has not pitched since. Prior to that, the Oklahoma native had been the portrait of durable for the Sooners for almost three years, belying his very slender 6-foot-2, 160-pound frame. Overton went 8-4, 2.30 over 74 innings as a freshman in 2011, working mostly out of the bullpen with seven spot starts, then posted a 6-3, 3.15 record in 124 innings as a sophomore working mostly as a starter. Prior to this season, Overton was being compared to Miami Marlins 2012 first round pick, left handed pitcher Andrew Heaney from Oklahoma State, and it looked like he could slip into the bottom of the first round with a strong spring. He had posted a 8-2, 2.54 mark in 71 innings (65 hits, 16 walks, 66 strikeouts) working in tandem with Jonathan Gray as one of the best college starting pitching duos in the country.

At his best, Overton pitches in the 89-92 mph range, touching the 93-94 mph range with an effective low-80s slider and changeup, and profiles as a third or fourth type starter on a big league staff. His draft status had likely slipped a bit before his injury as scouts noted that his raw stuff was not as consistently firm as it had been in the past, and there was concern that it could slip even further having to work every fifth day as a professional due to his lack of physical strength. Still, Overton was considered a safe pick by many as a polished college southpaw with three present pitches and good command who could move quickly through a minor league system. How Overton’s elbow responds to treatment over the next few weeks will determine whether that is still the case.

68. JUSTIN WILLIAMS, of, Terrebonne HS, Houma (La.)
Williams has been one of the most difficult players in the country to scout this spring, part of the reason that his name isn’t mentioned as frequently in national scouting circles as one might expect. Williams plays shortstop in high school and not his natural corner outfield position, plus he plays for a team that finished the season 10-18. Already one of the most pitched around players on the summer and fall travel circuit, Williams has rarely seen any pitches to hit this spring as well. A perfect summary of his spring came in the first game of his district playoffs. With Terrebonne High School up 7-1 in the fifth inning with one out and the bases empty, the opposing coach walked Williams intentionally for the second time in the game. The next hitter grounded into a double play to end the inning, the opposing team rallied and eventually won 8-7 in the bottom of the seventh. Local media accounts of the game said that Williams put on a BP show after the game, including over a dozen long home runs, for the scouts who were at the game.

69. TUCKER NEUHAUS, 3b/ss, Wharton HS, Tampa (Fla.)
Neuhaus established his prospect credentials at the Florida Diamond Club event last October, a showcase type event organized by the Florida Scouts Association. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound left handed hitter blasted a long home run and a double in the game and put on a similar display in batting practice. Unfortunately, Neuhaus has had nothing but adversity since, beginning when his older brother, Ty, a catcher at Hillsborough CC, was tragically killed in car accident in December. This spring has seen Neuhaus miss time with an illness, a head injury caused by a ground ball and a quad muscle issue, giving him few chances to show his full range of tools in game situations.

Scouts who like Neuhaus the most feel his bat is worthy of first-round consideration, although that is not a unanimous opinion due to how infrequently he has been evaluated. Neuhaus currently plays shortstop, and signed with Louisville in part because he was told he could continue to play that position in college, but scouts agree that he will likely move immediately to third base as a professional.

70. OSCAR MERCADO, ss, Gaither HS, Tampa (Fla.)
Mercado has a very long resume with national level scouts and may have to tap on that background after an uninspiring spring that has seen him hit .293-0-13 and make an uncharacteristic number of errors in the field.

71. CODY REED, lhp, Northwest Mississippi CC
Little did scouts know that when East Central shortstop Tim Anderson began making waves as a legitimate early-round talent for this year’s draft in February that a second Mississippi junior-college player would explode on the scene a month later. Reed’s rise to prominence is the more surprising development of the two as his exploits caught everyone completely off guard. In the fall, his fastball was in the 86-88 mph range, occasionally peaking at 90, but it blew up as the 2013 season unfolded, improving to 91-92 mph initially, and then up to 94-95 in his March and April starts, when droves of 40-50 scouts regularly began showing up at his games. As the velocity on Reed’s fastball spiked, so did the speed of his slider, which improved from 76-77 mph early in the season to 79-81.

Being 6-foot-5 and left-handed has only added to Reed’s allure, and scouts have not only been impressed with his raw stuff but his easy arm action and surprisingly good command. On the season, Reed is 6-2, 3.21 with 29 walks and 80 strikeouts in 53 innings. Scouts are understandably leery of Reed’s sudden rise to prominence and they had good reason to be in his latest loss, on April 13, when he gave up eight hits and walked seven in 5-1/3 innings, but they saw all the promise that the intriguing Reed has to offer in his next outing when he spun a 1-0, one-hit shutout, walked none and struck out 15.

72. CARLOS SALAZAR, rhp, Kerman HS (Calif.)
A year ago, Salazar was an unknown outside of the Central Valley. Salazar resides in a small farm town near Fresno, after an anonymously dominant junior spring, he suffered a foot injury that caused him to miss most of the summer. He remained under the radar until he returned from the injury in the fall and created a local buzz that spread. The Ohio Warhawks offered him a spot on their roster for the 2012 WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, where Salazar appeased a large crowd of scouts, nearly all of whom were getting their first look, by touching 96 mph.

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