June 6, 2013
Perfect Game Presents
MLB Draft Prospect Reports 1-25
1. Jonathan Gray, RHP, University of Oklahoma (Jr.)
A combination of better conditioning and improving mechanics have vaulted Gray from a potential first round pick before the season to a potential first overall pick when the Houston Astros kick off the draft on June 6. Gray has been lighting up radar guns in the 95-100 range while peaking as high as 102 mph consistently all spring and maintaining his velocity deep into starts. His slider, which some scouts feel the Oklahoma coaching staff calls too frequently, is a second plus pitch in the mid- to upper 80s with a hard and deep late bite. Not only has Gray shown dominant stuff that has been compared to Justin Verlander, he’s shown the ability to use it as well, posting an 8-1, 1.20 record in 89 innings, with only 51 hits and 16 walks allowed to go with 104 strikeouts. Batters are hitting .166-1-15 against Gray this year. Gray was a well-known prospect out of Chandler, Okla. as a high schooler, topping out at 93 mph, but was only picked in the 13th round (Royals) and again in the 10th round (Pirates) after attending Eastern Oklahoma JC in 2011 before transferring to Oklahoma.
2. Mark Appel, RHP, Stanford University (Sr.)
After turning down the Pittsburgh Pirates, who made Appel the eighth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Appel returned to Stanford for his senior season. It's no secret that while Appel had the physical gifts to potential become the No. 1 overall pick last year, his signing bonus demands proved detrimental in the environment of the new CBA. A Boras Corp. client, signability is still going to be a major factor in where Appel actually comes off the board this year as well. While the perception is that he'll have less leverage this time around as a college senior, Appel has the kind of talent that should get him serious consideration to be a top two overall pick. Appel has the stuff, size, and track record to justify spending a major portion of a team's bonus pool to acquire his services and appears to be as close to big-league-ready as any prospect in this draft. The 6-foot-5 righty consistently works in the mid-90s and can run his fastball into the upper 90s on occasion. He combines that with a changeup that frequently flashes plus in the mid-80s, and he has a vicious knockout slider that has allowed him to continue to pile up the strikeouts this spring (84 through first 70-1/3 IP).
3. Kris Bryant, 3B, University of San Diego (Jr.)
The top spot is a very hotly contested and debatable case between the best power bat in the draft and the best power arm. While Stanford's Mark Appel has plenty of merit for not only the top ranking spot in the state, it is far from a slam dunk. The nod ultimately goes to the senior with potential ace level stuff and the numbers to back it up. But Bryant is currently leading the nation with 21 home runs through his first 145 at-bats (one per every 6.9 ABs) in 40 games and is likely under at least some consideration for the No. 1 overall pick. Bryant has two question marks surrounding him: his strikeout/swing and miss rate, and his ability to stick at third base long term. Aside from those reasonable questions, he's arguably the top talent in the entire class. He has enough arm strength to make right field a potential fallback option, which would give him more positional value than if he were to move across the diamond to first base. And while he is likely to always strike out a lot in his career, he has also proven his ability to hit quality pitching on a consistent basis this year, and is currently hitting .350/.528/.823 this season. Even though he's not expected to compete for batting titles at the big league level, he has shown plenty of ability to utilize his top-of-the-scale raw power and turn it into in-game power production.
4. Clint Frazier, OF, Loganville HS (Ga.)
The Clint Frazier vs. Austin Meadows debate has been one of the central discussion points leading up to the draft this spring and will undoubtedly be debated even further in closed draft rooms in the weeks and days leading up to June 6. Frazier has responded to the scouting pressures with another incredible season and was hitting over .500 with 13 home runs as of this writing, including his spectacular two-home run game in his first match-up with Meadows in a very heavily scouted game in early March. Scouts seem to concede that Frazier has the best raw bat speed in the draft, college or high school, and now just needs to figure out the rest of picture.
5. Kohl Stewart, RHP, St. Pius X HS, Tomball (Texas)
Stewart came into the spring with as many questions dogging him as any top prospect in the country but has stepped up and answered all of them emphatically. The first and most important question was the health of his right shoulder, which was injured in a football game in November. Not only did Stewart come back healthy, he came back better, with his fastball velocity consistently in the mid-90s, complemented by a newly developed curveball that immediately rivaled his already potential plus slider for quality. With his name now being mentioned frequently and almost exclusively among the top 10 picks, the questions about Stewart taking advantage of his football opportunities at Texas A&M have also become less frequent, although they are sure to play a leverage role in his draft negotiations.
6. Colin Moran, 3B, University of North Carolina
Moran has done nothing but hit in three college seasons at Carolina—stroking the ball at a .335-9-71 clip as a freshman, .365-3-35 in an injury-plagued sophomore season and .389-12-74 through his first 46 games as a junior. Not only does he lead the NCAA Division I ranks in RBI while hitting in the 3-hole for the nation’s No. 1 ranked team, but he also has an eye-popping 40-10 walk-to-strikeout ratio. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound Moran comes by his talent honestly as he is the nephew of B.J. Surhoff, a three-year star at North Carolina, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 draft and a career .282 hitter over 19 big-league seasons. With advanced hitting skills and extremely quick hands, balls routinely jump off Moran’s bat and he may qualify as the surest bet of all the top offensive players in this year’s draft to succeed at the big-league level. More than anything this spring, Moran has demonstrated to previously-skeptical scouts that his raw power is a legitimate tool, that he is capable of turn on balls consistently against any kind of pitching. His most frequent power remains to the gaps, however, and he may end up producing 30-35 doubles vs. 15-20 homers once he settles in as a big-league regular. Of equal significance, Moran has put to rest any notion that he lacks the quick-twitch actions to remain at third base in the long run. He has committed just four errors this spring, while posting an impressive .983 fielding average, and his hands and release have become much more sure. While he continues to get to considerably more balls in both directions than he once did, he still needs to refine his actions laterally. Moran’s professional upside may still be perceived as lower than some of his more athletic peers in the college ranks, but he is viewed as one of the safest picks in this year’s class and has continued to edge his way closer and closer to the No. 1 overall selection with his dominant season at the plate.
7. Ryne Stanek, RHP, University of Arkansas (Jr.)
Stanek has given scouts plenty to talk about this spring while going 6-2, 1.87 (67 innings, 53 hits, 26 walks, 59 strikeouts) and opinions on the Kansas native range all over the first round. Those who like him the most point to his consistent mid-90s fastball that tops at 97 mph with heavy sink and his mid-80s slider as two future plus to plus/plus big league pitches and see him as a potential top 10 pick. His detractors point to his lack of pitchability and dominance considering his raw stuff in comparison to other top college hurlers such as Jonathan Gray and Mark Appel.
8. Sean Manaea, LHP, Indiana State University (Jr.)
Manaea entered the spring rated as Perfect Game's No. 1 prospect of all players eligible for this year's draft thanks to a dominant summer on the Cape in which he posted video game type numbers, which led to him being named PG's Summer Collegiate Player of the Year. He was named the No. 1 prospect on the Cape, the same honor he received the summer before pitching in the Prospect League. His success last summer can easily be attributed to vastly improved sutff, as his fastball routinely sat in the 93-95 range while peaking at 97. Both his slider and changeup showed marked improvement, giving him a very polished three-pitch repertoire thrown from a deceptive, low three-quarters delivery with very good arm speed. This spring hasn't gone quite as well for the 6-foot-5, 235-pound ace of the Sycamores, although his stuff has still been quite good, as have his performances. Early in the year Manaea was peaking at 94 mph, doing so both indoors in the comfort of the Metrodome in early March and outdoors as part of Indiana State's early home schedule where the weather was slow to resemble spring. If Indiana State's series against Tennessee-Martin hadn't been rained out he would have missed a start due to a lingering hip injury that has bothered Manaea since late March. He has been throwing better as of late, and is expected to regain his mid- to upper-90s velocity this summer. On the season he is 5-4 with a 1.58 ERA, logging 68 1/3 innings in 11 starts, allowing 44 hits and 25 walks with 88 strikeouts, and his track record is impressive enough to where he should be taken among the top 10 overall picks come June.
9. Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson County HS, Loganville (Ga.)
While Meadows has been overshadowed by Frazier in terms of overall performance and a knack for the spectacular this spring, he has by no means had a disappointing spring, far from it. He was at his best at the heavily scouted NHSI Tournament in North Carolina in early April and has been consistent with his tools since the season began. The teams that like him the most will look at his 6-foot-3, 200-pound build and his athletic projection and see a future middle of the order centerfielder on a winning team, more than enough for a potential top 10 pick.
10. Braden Shipley, RHP, University of Nevada (Jr.)
Lightly recruited out of high school in Oregon, Shipley began his collegiate career as a two-way player, getting 44 starts at shortstop as a freshman (compared to just two on the mound) before transitioning to pitching full-time last year. He can touch the requisite high velocities for a first round prospect, though he generally settles into the low-90s with an under control delivery and starter's approach to navigating opposing lineups, saving his quality secondaries until the second and third trips through the order. He mixes his fastball with a quality mid-80s changeup and a good high-70s curveball that shows a lot of potential. After a strong campaign last year, which saw him go 9-4 with a 2.20 ERA, Shipley was named WAC pitcher of the year before being ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the Alaskan Summer League. So far, Shipley has followed up that strong summer in Alaska with an even stronger junior season at Nevada. His stuff isn't quite as electric as the power arms that are projected for the top five picks, but Shipley's stuff is strong in its own right and his ability to utilize it will likely make him a first round pick.
11. Hunter Renfroe, OF, Mississippi State University
The real Hunter Renfroe has stood up this spring, and there may not be a player in the 2013 draft class who has a better overall tool-set than the powerful Mississippi State right fielder. After playing sparingly for the Bulldogs as a freshman and hitting a modest .252-4-25 as a sophomore, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Renfroe has busted out with a monster junior season and leads his team with a .410 average, 14 homers and 45 RBIs. He has hit more homers than the rest of his teammates combined, and those numbers are more in keeping with the near-iconic status he achieved in two years of summer ball while playing for the Bethesda Big Train of the Cal Ripken League. Renfroe was selected the top prospect in that league two years running—first for his ability to hit tape-measure home runs as a power-hitting catcher while also lighting up radar guns to the tune of 98-99 mph as a strong-armed relief pitcher. Even with a move last summer to center field in his return to the Big Train, Renfroe was so dominant that he set a league record for home runs before the 2012 season was barely half over, and established numerous other offensive records. Though he is viewed as a legitimate big-league prospect at any number of positions, Renfroe seemed to find a comfort zone this spring for the Bulldogs as a right fielder, and his easy transition to that position speaks to his superior athleticism and versatility. There isn’t a tool in his bag that doesn’t rate as above average but it’s his prodigious power at the plate, both for distance and frequency, that truly sets him apart.
12. Trey Ball, LHP/OF, New Castle HS (Ind.)
Trey Ball has been a known commodity for quite some time, entering last summer as one of the high school class of 2013's top prospects. While he didn't do anything to hurt his own status on prospect rankings, several other players did step up during the summer of 2012. A very talented athlete that excels both on the mound as a left handed pitcher and as a fleet-footed center fielder with intriguing power potential, it is his left arm that carries the most weight at the professional level. His fastball routinely tops out around 92-93, and sits comfortably in the 88-91 range with obvious projection in his 6-foot-6, 180-pound frame that should lead to increased, more sustained velocity over the next 2-3 years. While his velocity has held steady, Ball has improved the break and velocity on his curveball, previously sitting in the low- to mid-70s and now routinely sitting in the 74-78 mph range. The improvement of this pitch has led to greater confidence throwing it, and the same is true for his 78-82 fading changeup. Should he honor his commitment to Texas, he likely would continue to be used in a two-way role, with very good speed for his size with long, loping strides in the outfield and on the basepaths. His stature creates very good leverage in his swing and interesting power potential. However, given the way Ball has pitched this spring, it is more likely that he is drafted in the middle to latter half of the first round as a pitcher, and could be peaking more consistently in the mid-90s once the weather stays consistently warmer.
13. D.J. Peterson, 3B, University of New Mexico
Drafted in the 33rd round by the Seattle Mariners in 2010 out of an Arizona high school, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Peterson has improved by leaps and bounds in his three years at New Mexico, and is now one of the elite hitters in the 2013 draft class. He hit a robust .419-17-78 (33 BB/29 SO) as a sophomore for the Lobos, led USA Baseball’s college-national team in homers last summer and has continued to swing the bat at a fast clip this spring as his .406 average, 20 doubles, 13 homers and 53 RBI (as of late April) are all club-leading figures by wide margins. Peterson has a smooth, balanced, disciplined swing that transitions easily to wood and enables him to generate easy raw power. He has shown no difficulty turning around high-velocity fastballs or recognizing the best breaking stuff in the college game. He also has a very mature approach to hitting and has become very adept at grinding out at-bats in his quest to find a pitch he can drive, or simply draw a walk. The remainder of Peterson’s tools aren't as strong, but he’s a better runner underway than he is generally given credit for. Defensively, he has adequate actions and a playable arm at third, but his hands and footwork are a little short and he may not be long for that position, with first base or an outfield corner likely destinations. Where Peterson might end up in the field is almost incidental to where he might be drafted as teams know they are buying an advanced bat with significant home run potential.
14. Reese McGuire, C, Kentwood HS, Covington (Wash.)
An elite defender behind the plate, McGuire is widely considered to be the best backstop to come through the draft since Austin Hedges earned $3 million as a second rounder of the Padres in 2011. While Hedges is McGuire's peer in terms of elite defensive prowess, what especially sets McGuire apart is the fact that he is also a high level hitting prospect. While the bat isn't quite up to the lofty standards of his highly athletic receiving and impressive catch-and-throw skills, McGuire has a loose swing with good bat speed and athletic swing actions from the left side. He can more than hold his own offensively in the professional ranks, with a chance to develop the kind of power that could make him an elite minor league prospect over the next few years, having already shown solid in-game power for a high school prospect to go with an advanced hit tool. The question isn't whether or not McGuire will hear his name called during the televised portion of the draft (first 50 picks), but how high.
15. Dominic Smith, 1B, Gardena Serra HS (Calif.)
The most complete high school hitter in the draft, the only thing that scouts can really nitpick is the fact that he profiles as a first baseman long term. While he has plenty of arm strength for right field and works in the low-90s as a left handed pitcher (and posted pop times that rival the catchers projected for the first round in a brief stint behind the plate in Jupiter), he has the physical potential to be a gold glove caliber first basemen. And although there is a ton of pressure on Smith to hit enough to justify being drafted in the first round (especially in the top half) as a high school first basemen, Smith's bat should play at any position. While he has big raw power, Smith's in-game plate approach is typically one centered around making line-drive contact and going with the pitch to utilize all fields. He has shown the ability to get aggressive and drive the ball with serious authority at times, though he is still working on keeping his head on mistake pitches and not pulling off. Once he becomes more consistent with punishing mistakes his rate of power production should see a spike. Not only does Smith have the ceiling to be an elite player at the major league level, he has off-the-charts makeup that suggests he's about as safe of a bet as anyone in the 2013 high school class to reach his potential.
16. Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford University (Jr.)
In terms of upside, Wilson is one of the more intriguing prospects in the entire state. But inconsistency in his early career at Stanford has been followed by missed time due to injuries, making him very difficult for teams to evaluate. Wilson returned from an elbow injury on April 8, and has since hit .405/.510/.738 in 12 games (9 starts). He has the potential to climb another spot or two if he can prove that he's healthy and show the ability to utilize his impressive tools. But his lofty current ranking will be difficult to justify if he suffers a setback, and that would leave open the possibility of following in the steps of teammate Mark Appel, in returning to Stanford for his senior season. There are a lot of possibilities that stem from the current uncertainty around Wilson's draft stock, but there is no question that he is one of the more dynamic talents in this year's draft class. His draft stock will fluctuate wildly with each game, and while he's behind the top two high school prospects (Smith and Crawford) and ahead of a group of quality arms right now, a whole lot can change over the final five weeks.
17. Phil Bickford, RHP, Oaks Christian HS (Calif.)
One of the better power arms in the class, Bickford has seen a meteoric rise this spring. Having run his fastball as high as 97 mph, Bickford typically works in the 91-94 range comfortably, and the combination of arm speed and size makes him very intruiging. He has big depth on his sweeping breaking ball at 78-80, and it is a swing and miss pitch, though he will need to learn to develop better feel for it to force hitters to swing on it at the next level. He's also flashed a low-80s changeup at times, a pitch that has promise but is still in the early stages of development. In a draft class that is low on high school power arms, Bickford has picked up some momentum this spring and could continue to climb up draft boards as June approaches.
18. Robert Kaminsky, LHP, St. Joseph’s Regional HS, Englewood Cliffs (N.J.)
Kaminsky has become the consummate professional performer at a very young age. He’s pitched on the big stage and succeeded at events such as the PG National and PG All-American Classic, and has seemingly had no problem pitching in front of massive scouting turnouts this spring. He’s been as high as 95 mph with his fastball and has pitched consistently at 90-93 mph in most of his recent spring outings. His hard, sharp curveball has also been graded as a 70 pitch by many scouts this spring. The polish, consistency, and advanced pitching aptitude that we learned the young left-hander had last summer just continues to thoroughly impress scouts of the highest levels this spring. No high school pitcher in the country shows a better feel for a plus breaking ball than he does. On top of that, scouts consistently come away impressed with the maturity and highest quality makeup that Kaminsky displays. Most seem to believe that the University of North Carolina commit is likely to go off the board anywhere between the 15th and 30th overall picks, although he has the talent to be taken among the top 5-10 overall picks.
19. Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno State University (Jr.)
An unusual prospect at 6-foot-7, Judge stands out physically right away. The height allows him to potentially create a ton of leverage to drive the ball with authority, though he has yet to do so on a consistent basis. But that size gives him a bigger strike zone and a longer swing, and thus there is a concern amongst scouts about how much he will swing and miss. He has struck out 38 times through 38 games to start the 2013 season, but his power rate is up, with seven home runs and a .592 slugging percentage, and he's also hitting .347 on the season. Judge is more than a bat only prospect. While he's not a burner, he does move well enough for his size to stick in the outfield. He has some things in common offensively with Dominic Smith, in that while they both posses massive raw power, they both have front foot hitting approaches that focus far more on hitting hard line drives rather than trying to lift the ball. Judge has shown that his hit tool is at least solid, in spite of the strikeouts, but the question surrounding him is how often he'll be able to tap into his power and if the strikeout totals can remain in check at the next level. While there's some question marks that could potentially drop him out of the first round, he is a player with a lot of upside who could handsomely reward whichever team does take a chance on him.
20. JP Crawford, SS, Lakewood HS (Calif.)
In a year devoid of legitimate up the middle prospects, Crawford has emerged as the biggest impact prospect at the shortstop position. He has the physical potential to develop into a legitimate five-tool player, though there are a lot of question marks to answer before doing so. He has been pitched around significantly this season, in spite of being moved to the leadoff spot in the order for Lakewood High School. That has led to some over-aggressive at-bats at times, which has in turn led to whispers about how well his hit tool will play at the next level. But if he didn't swing at the pitches he's been swinging at, he wouldn't get to swing much at all this spring. And he has all of the physical gifts to not only hit for average, but should continue to develop power as his lanky athletic frame fills out. He's also one of the safer bets to stick at shortstop, having played outstanding defensive throughout the spring, in addition to possessing all the tools to suggest he will be able to continue to do so once he reaches the professional ranks.
21. Hunter Harvey, RHP, Bandys HS, Catawba, N.C.
As a potential first-round pick in June, Harvey is light years farther along as a pitching prospect at a comparable stage than his father Bryan, who went undrafted out of both high school and college, and yet emerged as a two-time all-star closer with 177 saves in a nine-year big-league career with the California Angels and Florida Marlins. For all his talent, Harvey was largely unknown to national-level scouts as recently as a year ago as he chose not to partake in travel-team competition or be a regular on the showcase circuit, but he has always shown considerable promise with his projectable 6-foot-3 frame, clean delivery and confident, aggressive approach to pitching. His emergence this spring into elite-level status has been quick and dramatic, and stems mainly from an increase in his arm speed. Harvey has added significant velocity to his fastball, from a steady 90-92 mph last summer, to 93-95, topping occasionally at 97, and his curveball has evolved into a second plus pitch with its sharp, downer action in the high-70s, low-80s. He has used his changeup on only rare occasions this spring, but it is another solid offering with its fading action. Unlike Harvey’s older brother Kris, who was a fifth-rounder out of Bandys High in 2002 and chose to pursue a college career at Clemson before emerging as a second-rounder three years later, Hunter has no interest in attending college and has made it clear that he wants to pursue an immediate career at the pro level.
22. Nick Ciuffo, C, Lexington HS (S.C.)
A left handed hitting catcher with significant power potential, solid-average arm strength and take-charge skills beyond his years, Ciuffo has first-round ability in all phases of his game. This year’s crop of prep catching prospects is unusually deep, but Ciuffo has been everything he was cracked up to be this spring—and maybe more—and rates at least an even chance of being taken off the draft board first among his peers, probably late in the first round.
23. Jon Denney, C, Yukon HS (Okla.)
Denney was one of the fastest rising players in the country for the first half of the spring and there was rampant speculation that he had surpassed Washington’s Reese McGuire and others as the top high school catcher in the country and could even be a top 10 pick. That talk has cooled down somewhat as scouts have seen more of Denney and noted more swing-and-miss in his hitting approach than they ideally would like to see, along with some areas on defensive that will need cleaning up. Still, the ultra-strong right handed hitter looks like a solid first round pick and should be the second Oklahoma prospect off the board as well.
24. Eric Jagielo, 3B/OF, Notre Dame (Jr.)
Like Sean Manaea, Eric Jagielo enjoyed a very successful summer in the Cape Cod League last summer, finishing second in the league in home runs with 13 while hitting .291 on a loaded Harwich Mariners squad. His 13 home runs match his power output from the spring, hitting .310 his sophomore year after a .269-5-28 season as a freshman. With a .386/.502/.639 slash line, which includes eight more home runs this spring, Jagielo has picked up where he left off, showing impressive power potential and a more selective batting eye. At 6-foot-3, 215-pounds Jagielo has impressive size, and he uses that size to generate very good leverage in his left-handed swing. Despite his power potential, he is more of a pure hitter than just a raw slugger, with a disciplined approach and the ability to drive the ball to the gaps. While he is a good overall athlete with good arm strength, it remains to be seen whether or not he has the lateral agility to remain at third base, but it is expected that at the very least he will begin his professional career there. Even if a move is made, he has more than enough bat, and arm strength, for an outfield corner, and likely will be taken by the end of the supplemental first round of the draft.
25. Marco Gonzales, LHP, Gonzaga (Jr.)
Typically first round pitching prospects have big bodies and loud stuff. Gonzales holds his own in those regards, at 6-foot-2 he's athletic enough to also be the Bulldogs' leading hitter and his fastball can touch 92 mph. But what stands out most about Gonzales is his plus changeup, his quality breaking ball and his advanced pitchability. It all adds up to an overall package, that when stacked up against a shallow overall draft pool, begins to look more and more like a first round candidate, despite lacking the traditional markings. He is likely to join McGuire as the 15th first rounder to come out of the state of Washington and could potentially go as high as the middle of the first round.