Position at a Glance This is one of the most important cross-sections of talent in any draft class. The top players, and certainly the top athletes, in high school programs tend to gravitate towards shortstop, where they can more regularly impact the game. Because of the difficulty associated with the position at the Major League level, it is not uncommon for these high school standouts to shift to a less demanding defensive home at some point during their pro development, making the high school middle infield group the incubator for a wide variety of Major League talent types. It is no wonder pro teams have gotten more aggressive in signing up-the-middle defenders out of high school over the last decade, and this year appears to offer MLB organizations a wide and varied collection through which to shop.
In-depth looks at the prep catchers you'll be paying attention to this June.
Position at a Glance Evaluating and projecting out high school catchers is a difficult task, with high developmental attrition rates stemming from the fact that the hit tool and catcher defense are two of the most difficult skills to grow and refine at the professional level. The most sought-after talents within this cross section are those players who have elite present ability with either the hit tool or defense, with the holy grail being that unique player capable of stepping into a minor-league system and thriving defensively while also projecting out with the bat. This year’s crop boasts an elite talent in Alex Jackson, as well as a number of players who could step into that top tier with a little further growth this spring.
A look at some of the top high school prospects, who played in San Diego this weekend.
Last Sunday Petco Park hosted the 11th All-American Classic, and the second since Perfect Game began headlining the event last summer. Always one of the most highly scouted events on the summer circuit, this year’s PGAAC saw more 225 scouts in attendance to evaluate 49 of the top amateur talents in the country, as well as the top draft-eligible talent north of the border.
The full showcase included multiple workout days at the University of San Diego, live-streamed (and archived) at Perfect Game’s website, along with the nine inning game itself, which was carried on MLB Network. Jason Parks and Chris Rodriguez attended the events in person, while Nick Faleris followed remotely. This is what they saw.
Well-Rounded Prep Class
Overall, the 2014 class is much deeper than 2013, with multiple first-round candidates emerging at the up-the-middle skill positions, and in particular at catcher, shortstop, and center field. While the focus will likely be on these high-value defensive positions, there is also a fair amount of corner talent, capable of growing into usable pop at the pro ranks.
Who were the standout prospects of the class of 2014 at the PG National Showcase?
Each summer, the scouting circuit kicks off with the Perfect Game Junior National Showcase and the Perfect Game National Showcase—back-to-back events (with rare exception held at the Metrodome in Minneapolis) highlighting the top underclass talent and rising seniors at the prep ranks. This year’s 2014 draft talents shined bright at PG National, with a bevy of arms and up-the-middle standouts portending a deep high school crop—the former being our focus for Part 1 of this two-part mini-series.
With over 300 players partaking in the five-day PG National Showcase, we are only scratching the surface with the notes and video in these two recap pieces. Throughout the summer and offseason, we will continue to introduce you to this exciting collection of 2014 draft prospects. To whet your appetite, check out the play of the showcase—an amazing highlight-reel grab by SoCal outfielder Derek Hill (Elk Grove HS (Elk Grove, CA)):
With one more day to prep before the draft, which pitchers do you need to remember before their names are called on draft day?
We conclude our Scouting the Draft positional preview with the second half of our look at some of the top arms in this year’s draft class, including five high school standouts, five collegiate starters, and five college relievers with varying projections at the pro ranks.
Have any pitchers seen significant bumps or drops in their stock this year?
Our final entry in the Scouting the Draft positional preview covers some of the top arms to know for this week’s draft. We’ll conclude the 2013 Scouting the Draft series this week with a look at 15 more arms, as well as some odds and ends that I hope you’ll find interesting. On to the reports!
Have any center fielders distinguished themselves as worthy of first-round selection?
One of the areas of strength in this draft class is high school center fielders; there’s a strong case for as many as seven or eight being selected in the first two rounds. The collegiate ranks are drastically thinner; the only two potential first-rounders are likely to end up elsewhere on the diamond. Because the prep ranks are so deep, there is excellent potential for a strong scouting department to identify good value in the third or fourth round.
With less than a month until draft day, which players are making names for themselves in the corner outfield market?
This year’s draft class offers an interesting blend of talent at the outfield corners, particularly at the prep ranks, where we find a dynamic cross-section of thumpers, pure hit tools, and a little of everything in between. At the collegiate ranks, some of the top talents include current infielders and center fielders that project better to a corner at the next level, with perhaps the best current corner outfielder in the class representing one of the biggest displays of helium over the past 12 months.
Who has improved their draft stock with strong spring showings?
The 2013 draft class is shy on impact middle infielders, particularly at the collegiate ranks, where our three profiled players each stand a fair chance of shifting to another position once they begin their pro careers. The high schoolers carry a little more depth but still plenty of questions, with only one player seeming to fit a true first-round profile.
Who are the can't-miss corner-infield prospects in the upcoming draft?
The corner-infield position at the major-league level generally places a high level of import on offensive production. That means draft prospects that project to a corner are often viewed first as bats, with a secondary consideration given to their projected level of defensive contributions. This year’s draft class includes a wide variety of corner-infield bats, including some loud tools and some equally loud question marks.