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August 6, 2013

Perfect Game Presents

East Coast Pro Top Prospects

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.

These rankings are only a snapshot of the 2013 East Coast Professional Showcase, a four-day event, and do not reflect this scout’s or Perfect Game’s opinion on the overall rankings of the players in the big picture.

Top Position Prospects

SS Nick Gordon (Avon Park, FL): Gordon did all his normal things: play defense, run the bases with plus speed and collect a number of singles up the middle, along with throwing 90-92 off the mound for three easy innings. I’m still surprised by the number of questions I continue to get on the question of player versus pitcher on Gordon.

OF Braxton Davidson (Arden, NC): Davidson boasts one of the best combinations of a hit tool and power in the 2014 class, perhaps the best. I’ll see Alex Jackson all next week, and it’s one of those two.

OF Carl Chester (Longwood, FL): Chester has serious tools and performed at a very high level, always an ideal combination. His speed impacts the game both offensively and defensively, but he has some serious juice in his bat as well.

OF Justin Smith (St. Johns, FL): Smith doesn’t take a back seat to anyone in the class for pure strength, and he has the ability to muscle base hits to the outfield when he doesn’t square the ball up. He played a very nice right field and made several high-level throws.

C J.J. Schwarz (Palm Beach Gardens, FL): Schwarz really stood out in all areas of the game, making consistent loud contact with power, receiving well, and throwing very well. He has the tools to be one of the first high school catchers picked next June. His father Jeff pitched in the big leagues in the early 1990s and is currently the Marlins GCL pitching coach.

IF Michael Chavis (Marietta, GA): This is probably the best I’ve seen the Georgia third baseman, who looked more like a potential middle infielder on defense than I previously thought. He stood out in all aspects of the game and plays very hard.

OF Michael Gettys (Gainesville, GA): Gettys has all the tools you’d want to see and plays the game at a 100-percent energy level. More frequent solid contact would move him right near the top of any scout’s list.

C Benito Santiago (Penbroke Pines, FL): Santiago is a base-hit machine at the plate and extremely polished defensively. He plays the game hard, seemingly with very little effort.

OF Reese Cooley (Orange Park, FL): Cooley wasn’t very well known until a few months ago, but that is ancient history. He’s a very high-level athlete who stood out at this event for his bat speed and consistent hard pull contact.

IF Forrest Wall (Winter Park, FL): Wall was the single most dominant offensive player in Syracuse, making hard contact virtually every trip to the plate with a short, powerful left-handed swing. He’s also a 6.58 runner. Scouts will figure out his defense and future position in the spring.

C Chase Vallot (Youngsville, LA): This was Vallot’s best showing of the summer with the bat, as he stood out with his power in batting practice and crushed three long doubles in games. The real key to his development will be his aptitude behind the plate defensively.

IF Milton Ramos (Miami, FL): Watching Ramos play defense is fun, as he combines very high-level tools with imagination and flair. As he showed at the 17u WWBA National Championship last month, he can swing the bat, too.

C Justin Morris (Edgewater, MD): Morris is a strong-bodied and athletic left-handed hitting catcher, a combination greatly valued at all levels of the game. He especially stood out on defense, but has the strength and bat speed to be a run producer.

C Drew Lugbauer (Pleasant Valley, NY): Lugbauer is going to receive a lot of scouting attention next spring as a 6-3/210 left-handed hitting catcher with power and a big arm. He and Justin Morris are pretty much equal as prospects.

OF Kel Johnson (Palmetto, GA): Johnson had a very strange event in that he worked counts, shortened up when down, hit line drives to all fields, and collected a number of simple singles and line drive outs without really taking a big swing with home-run intent. And he did it very well for a true power guy, which was notable.

3B Charles Cody (Chesapeake, VA): Cody is much better suited to be evaluated over a period of days in a team-oriented event, I’ve come to realize, perhaps as much as any player in the 2014 class. He’s a gamer.

OF Kevin Bryant (Taylors, SC): Bryant’s swing has progressively improved all summer and the hard contact is coming more frequently. The athletic tools and projection are outstanding.

OF Luke Bonfield (Skillman, NJ): The body of evidence is growing that Bonfield is simply one of the better hitters in the 2014 class as he continues to punish top-level pitching with both power and consistency.

OF Zach Sullivan (Corning, NY): Sullivan is a very interesting athlete who one can grade out as future MLB average in all five tool areas, plus his 6-2,180-pound frame projects nicely. If his power or 6.7 speed improves a notch as he gets stronger, it will get even more interesting.

OF Jack Schaaf (Springboro, OH): Schaaf was a pleasant surprise as a 6-1, 185-pound left-handed hitting outfielder with 6.50 speed and some power and bat speed when pulling the ball. We’ll have to make sure to see more of him this summer and fall.

OF Troy Stokes (Baltimore, MD): Stokes' swing approach is so simple and direct that you wonder where all the bat speed comes from. He’s a quick-twitch athlete with 6.5 speed who has improved all summer.

3B Max Ponzurick (Greensburg, PA): Ponzurick was one of my sleeper favorites after the PG National Showcase and he did nothing in Syracuse to change my mind, hitting an opposite-field home run along with showing his plus arm strength and quick first step on defense.

IF Isan Diaz (Springfield, MA): If Forrest Wall (above) wasn’t the most dominant hitter over this four day period, it was Diaz, whose left-handed swing is very strong and crisp. Diaz’ arm strength and foot quickness might be a bit short for shortstop, but he will have high-level second base tools/skills.

IF Tate Blackman (Altamont Springs, FL): Blackman, like Charles Cody above, is best appreciated over a period of days and in a team environment than in a showcase setting. He consistently makes plays and hits the ball hard.

SS Henry Davis (Darlington, SC): Davis was listed in the program at 6-3/157 and is obviously slender and projectable. He’s also extremely athletic, especially on defense at shortstop, and showed enough with the bat to think that will come on with additional strength.

Top Pitching Prospects

RHP Dylan Cease (Milton, GA): Cease’s first inning on the mound was the most impressive of the event, as he threw a 94-96 mph fastball that simply overmatched the first three hitters. He had to pitch the next two innings in a steady rain, which did him no favors and can be excused.

RHP Sean Reid-Foley (Jacksonville, FL): While Cease’s inning stood out, Reid-Foley’s entire three-inning outing was the most impressive. He was consistently in the 93-95 mph range, with lots of 95s, and showed power and feel with his secondary pitches.

RHP Grant Holmes (Conway, SC): The 17u PG World Series MV-Pitcher was “only” 92-94 mph with his fastball after hitting the 94-96 range in Arizona last week, but his 83-mph curveball was the best breaking ball any pitcher threw in Syracuse.

LHP Foster Griffin (Orlando, FL): I did not see Griffin in July when he was the MV-Pitcher of the 17u WWBA National Championship, but he must have pitched the same way in Syracuse as he did in Marietta. He dominated with outstanding stuff, including an 89-92 fastball and advanced pitchability.

LHP Justus Sheffield (Tullahoma, TN): Sheffield is another top prospect who has improved every time I’ve seen him this summer. He uses all his pitches in good sequence and is showing increasing power and life to his fastball, topping out at 94 mph here.

RHP Cobi Johnson (Holiday, FL): Johnson didn’t show a big fastball, pitching at 89-91 mph, but did everything else as well as a 17-year old could in throwing 28 pitches in three perfect innings. His 77-mph curveball is a future plus pitch and his arm action and command were impeccable.

RHP Touki Toussaint (Coral Springs, FL): Toussaint continues to develop a full arsenal of pitches and his slider/cutter and changeup both were very good at times. But his 90-94 mph fastball and knee-buckling curveball are still his best offerings.

RHP Jake Godfrey (New Lenox, IL): I’ve seen Godfrey pitch four times this summer and he’s improved each time out. He sat at 91-93 mph with his fastball and his upper-70s curveball ranked as one of the best in the 2014 class. His delivery and command of both pitches has been a notable area of improvement as well.

RHP Bryan Dobzanski (Franklinville, NJ): Maybe the biggest revelation of ECP, the 6-4, 225-pound Dobzanski is a freak athlete who is a legend in New Jersey wrestling circles and a football stud as well. His combination of looseness and strength produced a low effort 90-94 mph fastball, although his long arm action is probably better suited for a slider in the future instead of his present curveball.

RHP Joe Gatto (Hammonton, NJ): Gatto’s fastball combines 90-93 mph velocity with outstanding movement and downhill plane, making it a multiple use weapon. He’ll need to realize that his curveball and changeup are also high level pitches and learn to mix his pitches up more frequently.

LHP Mac Marshall (Lilburn, GA): Marshall had a very smooth and easy three innings on the mound, showing a calmer delivery and much better command of his upper-70s breaking ball than I have previously seen. His fastball was plenty firm enough at 89-92 mph.

RHP Scott Blewett (Baldwinsville, NY): Blewett was the hometown star at the ECP as he lives about 20 minutes from Syracuse and he stepped up accordingly. He has the frame at 6-6, 215, and the loose, easy arm of a future power pitcher and has improved his stuff from earlier in the summer, topping out at 93 mph.

RHP Spencer Adams (Cleveland, GA): Adams may be, along with Cobi Johnson (above), the most projectable pitcher in the 2014 class. He pitches at 88-91 mph and his 83-mph slider is one of the best breaking balls in the class. His stock could skyrocket by June.

RHP Josh Pennington (Cape May, NJ): Pennington is a slender 6-1 right-hander, but his arm is as fast and loose as any pitchers in the country, and his present 90-92 mph fastball may just be scratching the surface of his future velocity.

RHP Keith Weisenberg (Seminole, FL): Weisenberg continues to be a personal favorite of mine, with a fast arm, projectable 6-4 build and excellent downhill angle to his 90-92 mph fastball, sharp curveball and rapidly improving changeup. He’s going to keep getting better.

RHP Austin DeCarr (Foxboro, MA): DeCarr is an older 2014 from the Northeast but his step up in raw stuff and command from the PG National was notable. He was steady at 91-93 for three innings with a nice hard curveball.

RHP Andrew Karp (Winter Garden, FL): The Florida right-hander’s stock has been rising all summer and continued to in Syracuse, as he threw steadily in the 90-93 mph range with a mid-70s curveball and solid changeup.

RHP Zack Shannon (Cincinnati, OH): Shannon will likely divide the scouting community on the pitcher vs. player question all the way up to the draft next year. He stood out more as a pitcher at this event, with a 90-93 mph fastball and good curveball.

RHP Jonah Patten (Ossian, IN): Patten appears to be one of those pitchers who has unconventional mechanics and high energy to his delivery but has the athleticism to repeat his release point/direction and command his pitches. His pitches were very impressive, including a 90-92 mph fastball and a very good curveball.

LHP Alex Destino (Weaverville, NC): Destino didn’t flash the 93-mph velocity he did back in late June, but threw better overall, showing less effort, better command, and a very solid three-pitch mix this time out.

RHP Jesse McCord (Petal, MS): McCord is essentially the Mississippi version of Josh Pennington (see above) in build and arm speed/looseness. Watch out when he gets stronger.

RHP Cre Finfrock (Jensen Beach, FL): The 6-1 Finfrock tends to lose his stuff quickly, and his high energy delivery also points to a bullpen future, but his stuff is nasty enough to rank as a top prospect, with a fastball that tops out at 94 mph and an intimidating power curveball.

RHP Kevin Steen (Oak Ridge, TN): Steen is a loose-armed and projectable 6-3/180 righty from Tennessee who can’t throw a baseball straight. His 88-91 mph fastball has hard boring action, and his 83 mph change induced some wild swings from left-handers fishing at pitches that ended up in the right-hand batter’s box. His curveball was pretty tight as well.

RHP Drew Carlton (Lakeland, FL): This was my first look at Carlton and I was impressed. Nothing stood out as plus, but the delivery was very good and he pounded the bottom of the strike zone with an 89-92 mph fastball and sharp curveball.

RHP A.J. Moore (Dacula, GA): Moore is a strong, physically mature 6-4, 205-pound righty with very solid present stuff. He pitched at 89-91, but his slider and changeup are just as important to his success as is his ability to throw hard.

Related Content:  Prospects,  Perfect Game

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