As part of Perfect Game's partnership with Baseball Prospectus, David Rawnsley and Patrick Ebert will be conducting a “Before They Were Pros” series, providing scouting reports on some of the top prospects in baseball from when they were in high school attending PG events. This six-part series (one for each division in MLB) will appear once Baseball Prospectus has provided their own detailed scouting reports of the top prospects, team-by-team, as part of their own series.
We continue with a look at the American League Central. Be sure to read Baseball Prospectus' features on each of the five teams:
And here are links to the other 'Before They Were Pros' series already conducted:
Kohl Stewart – RHP
Kohl Stewart's baseball career took off, not surprisingly, when he stopped playing football.
The Houston area native was best known as a prep high-school quarterback at St. Pius X High School. He threw for 3,167 yards and 30 touchdowns as a junior and committed to play quarterback for Texas A&M. The thought of playing quarterback for the Aggies in 2012 was as good as it got. Their previous quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, had graduated to the Miami Dolphins. Their present quarterback was Johnny Manziel. They were moving to the all-hallowed SEC. That was heady stuff.
Stewart hadn't been seen much outside of the Houston area when he went to the 2012 PG National Showcase in Minnesota. After throwing what PG's Ben Ford described as the best bullpen he'd ever seen a high school pitcher throw, Stewart's back tightened up and he was unable to take the Metrodome mound. He was able to recover from that mild setback and make a number of national appearances late in the summer, including the 2012 PG All-American Classic. Stewart would regularly top out at 94-95 mph at these events and flash his power mid-80s slider, although he tended to overthrow this pitch at times.
Stewart was enjoying another very successful football season in the fall of his senior year, throwing for 2,560 yards, 28 touchdowns, and adding another 483 yards on the ground before his season ended in early November when he landed awkwardly on his right shoulder after being tackled. There was significant concern in the scouting community, along with an over abundance of Texas-sized rumors, about Stewart's health as the baseball season started.
Stewart eased into the season slowly but ended up throwing so well and being so dominant that the shoulder injury became deep background by draft time. Stewart ended up posting a 5-1 record and a 0.18 ERA, allowing only one earned run and 13 hits in 40 innings while striking out 59 hitters. Stewart also hit .384-10-34 for good measure to remind scouts of his overall athletic ability. His stuff was consistent, with regular mid-90s velocity and his signature slider showing big depth to go along with its knee-buckling power. There was no doubt that Stewart was going to be a top 10 selection and very little discussion about his potential football career, either.
The Twins grabbed him with the fourth overall pick, making him the first high-school player selected, one pick ahead of Clint Frazier and the Indians. Stewart agreed to a $4,544,000 signing bonus almost immediately. —David Rawnsley
Stephen Gonsalves – LHP
Stephen Gonsalves success in pro ball thus far is a testament to the often forgotten and nearly impossible to measure role of a team's minor-league coaches in his development.
A native of San Diego, Gonsalves was a well-known player nationally by the time he was a sophomore and was a highly ranked player from the first time the Perfect Game class of 2013 rankings were posted. He grew to his full 6-foot-5 height early and was always superbly coordinated. In fact, he was considered almost as much of a position prospect as a pitching prospect at one point, even playing as an outfielder at Cathedral Catholic, one of the top high-school programs in the country, as a freshman.
But Gonsalves ticket to the next level was his left arm, and velocity always came easily for him. He hit 90 mph for the first time at a Perfect Game event at the Sunshine West Showcase at the end of his sophomore year. With his athleticism, silky smooth arm action and prototypical pitcher's build, the word "projectable" followed Gonsalves around like the number on the back of his uniform jersey.
Gonsalves backed it up on the mound as well, going 9-0, 1.03 for Cathedral Catholic as a sophomore and 10-0, 1.73 as a junior. He was frequently talked about as a potential first-rounder when his draft year came around.
However, one thing was becoming increasingly worrisome to those who had tracked Gonsalves from early in his career. He really struggled throwing a curveball and it was getting worse, not better. He slowed his body significantly and had an early release on it that is universally known in the scouting world as "casting" the ball. On a pro grading scale it was a 20 pitch. The most worrisome aspect was that Gonsalves should have had at least a decent curveball; he was athletic, he played for top programs with well-respected coaches and it wasn't as if he was afraid to use the pitch, he probably threw it too often.
During his senior year Gonsalves and the entire Cathedral Catholic team struggled. Pegged by some as the top team in the country and featuring three PG All-Americans on their pitching staff in Gonsalves, junior Brady Aiken, and sophomore Drew Finley, the team finished 20-13. Gonsalves went 6-2, 2.19 with mediocre ratios compared to his previous two seasons. His draft stock was plummeting and it looked like the University of San Diego staff would get a chance at fixing his curveball before professional ball.
The Twins took a shot at buying low on Gonsalves and picked him in the fourth round, eventually signing him to a $700,000 bonus.
This scout had seen Gonsalves pitch at least six times as a high schooler. I ran into him by coincidence on a back field at the Red Sox Complex during the 2013 WWBA Underclass World Championship, where the Twins and Red Sox were playing an Instructional League game. I couldn't believe the difference in Gonsalves' curveball. Instead of being in the upper 60s, it was mid-70s and had some hair on it. If Gonsalves had thrown that pitch in high school, he would have been a lock-down first-rounder. The Twins pitching coaches had done their job and done it very well. —David Rawnsley
Chris Beck – RHP
Chris Beck's peak velocity at a Perfect Game event occurred the summer before his senior year, pitching for the powerful Gerogia-based Team Elite program at the 2008 17u WWBA National Championship. There the projectable 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-hander worked at 82-88 mph, but the ease in which he threw and potential for additional velocity as he gained more strength to his frame was evident.
Like so many pitchers who blossom while in college, it was near impossible to project just how far the strength gains would allow Beck to improve. His talent was evident enough in high school for him to be ranked 326th in the 2009 class, but his game elevated to a much higher level at Georgia Southern.
Beck's game took off during his sophomore year in college, and took another step forward during the following summer while playing on the Cape. He entered his junior year as a likely first-round pick, although he didn't carry the success from the previous year over. Beck was still good enough to be ranked the 41st overall prospect leading up to the 2012 draft.
Here's his pre-draft report from Allan Simpson:
Beck’s raw stuff has been consistent with where it was last spring, when he went 9-5, 3.23 with a Southern Conference-high 109 strikeouts in 103 innings, but it has not been as electric as it was last summer in the Cape Cod League (3-2, 2.12, 51 IP/41 SO), when he surged to prominence as one of the top arms in the 2012 college class by featuring three average to above-average major-league pitches in a 94-96 mph fastball, 80-83 mph slurve-like breaking ball and 84-mph straight change. This spring Beck’s fastball has been consistently 91-94 mph leading to a 4-4, 3.82 record and a 18-87 walk-to-strikeout ratio. Beck has altered his delivery to more of an overhanded slot which may have led to the slight drop in velocity. Beck’s slider has still been a solid pitch at 82-84 mph when he gets on top of it and creates two-plane break, and he continues to throw a solid changeup.
Beck played alongside Victor Roache in college, giving Georgia Southern a rare dynamic duo for scouts to follow during the spring of 2012. Although Roche's junior season was cut short due to a broken wrist, he still was drafted late in the first round by the Brewers. Beck, who was also believed to be a potential first-rounder, still went in the second round despite not being as sharp that spring. —Patrick Ebert
Micah Johnson – 2B
Prior to attending the University of Indiana, Johnson was lightly recruited out of an Indianapolis area high school. He showed the requisite tools to play at the Division I level, and received complimentary reports from the Perfect Game scouting staff at the tournament events he attended, playing mostly with the Lids Indiana Bulls travel program.
At the time Johnson hit from both sides of the plate, showing a line-drive swing path, quick hands, and good bat speed. His eventual defensive home was somewhat in question, but he was a good enough athlete to move between the infield and outfield relatively seamlessly.
It didn't take long for him to make an immediate impression in college, hitting .312 with 11 home runs for the Hoosiers his freshman year while playing third base, and .335 with three home runs playing second base as a sophomore. Johnson gave up switch-hitting to focus on his approach and swing from the left side of the plate, one more positive aspect of his prospective value.
Unfortunately, he never got into the full swing of things during his pivotal junior year due to an elbow injury that relegated him to serving as Indiana's designated hitter. Here's his pre-draft report from the spring of 2012:
Johnson began the 2012 season as Indiana's DH, prior to having surgery on his throwing elbow in early March. He recently returned to action and understandably was a little rusty at the plate from his long layoff, and finished the regular season by hitting just .203-1-8 in 20 games. He may have to get on a hot streak at the plate in the Big Ten tournament in order to justify his current standing as a potential top-10-round pick. Nonetheless, Johnson’s athleticism is readily evident with his quick-twitch actions and strong, well-proportioned build. He has good strength throughout his 5-foot-11, 190-pound frame, and his raw speed (6.65 second in the 60) is a critical part of his game … While there is modest power in his quick left-handed swing, Johnson is at his best when driving balls gap-to-gap. He takes a lot of pitches, leading to his fair share of walks, but by working deep counts is also prone to higher strikeout totals than desired for a player with his skill set.
Johnson had made a strong enough impression during his first two years in college to be selected by the White Sox in the ninth round of the 2012 draft, which isn't too far off from where he was being projected to be taken prior to his injury. —Patrick Ebert
Jacob May – OF
Jacob May, the grandson of former big-league slugger Lee May, attended the 2009 PG National Showcase as a 5-foot-10, 175-pound switch-hitting shortstop. He earned a PG grade of 10 at the event, showing good foot speed by running the 60-yard dash in 6.69 seconds while throwing 85 mph from across the infield. His performance garnered this report:
Small but very athletic build, good present strength. Very good defensive actions, range to both sides, excellent body control, plus hands, 2B star potential at pro level, SS/2B at college level. Switch-hitter, similar approaches, better bat speed from left side, contact/high average approach, handles barrel well, will hit to all fields, line drive plane, hits with hands, 6.69 runner with quick first step. Could create some good draft interest, but maybe a lot more after college. He can really play!
That report proved to be a good prognostication for May's future career path, as he ended up attending Coastal Carolina after the Reds took him in the 39th round of the 2010 draft out of high school.
Player's of May's size often have to prove themselves at every step along the way to get drafted where their talent, not their stature, may warrant. Although he hit only .206 his freshman year in college, he rebounded well the summer that followed in the Northwoods League, hitting .296 with 14 extra-base hits while proving to be a nuisance on the basepaths. That success carried over to his sophomore year when he hit .306 with 27 stolen bases, the summer of 2012 on the Cape, being named the 25th best prospect on the circuit, and finally his junior year at Coastal Carolina, hitting .324 while collecting 21 extra-base hits and 16 swipes.
Since he didn't possess the ideal arm strength for shortstop, it was determined that his speed and overall profile would fit best in the outfield as a prototypical top-of-the-order threat. Here is May's pre-draft report from 2013, when he was named the 183rd overall draft-eligible prospect:
Not only is May one of the fastest, most athletic players in the 2013 college class, but he looks as graceful as a deer running across a pasture at full gait … Initially pegged as high as a possible second-rounder, May now appears a better fit in rounds 4-6. The biggest area of concern to scouts remains his bat. A switch-hitter, May has a simple, contact-oriented approach at the plate, geared towards staying inside the ball and filling the gaps with line drives … That said, May’s game is predicated by his speed, as he has led Coastal in stolen bases the last two years.
His overall profile was similar to that of Phil Ervin, who May played with during the summer of 2011 in the Northwoods League. Ervin, considered the better, more consistent offensive threat, ended up being a first-round pick of the Reds in 2013. The White Sox, who always place a premium on dynamic, well-rounded athletes, plucked up May in the third round the same year. —Patrick Ebert
Clint Frazier – OF
Frazier's ascension to the top high-school position player selected in the 2013 draft came largely in two steps, with a mythical day attached prior to the draft.
Frazier was basically an unknown on the national stage when he came to the 2011 PG Junior National Showcase in Fort Myers, Fla. as a third baseman. He ran a 6.9 60-yard dash, threw 89 mph across the infield and was probably the best hitter at the entire event during the games, although his funky hand-hitch swing did already raise some concerns. It was immediately obvious that not only did he have high-level tools, he also played the game with a passion and could perform up to those tools.
During the spring of his junior year, one started to hear rumblings about the kid in Georgia who was putting up video game numbers. That would have been Frazier, who hit 24 home runs that spring. So when he showed up at the 2012 PG National Showcase in Minnesota, Frazier was no longer a low-profile player.
He put on a show at the Metrodome that ranks with the best ever seen at a PG National. Frazier ran a 6.42 60-yard dash. Now an outfielder, he threw 98 mph during drills despite having a tender arm. He hit absolute bombs in batting practice, including one absurd one when he reached for an outside pitch and visibly only had one hand on the bat when he hooked it down the left field line. He played the game like his mane of red hair was on fire. PG's Todd Gold commented in his scout notes that, "He plays like he's in fast forward."
Despite being a 6-foot, right-handed hitting outfielder with flawed hitting mechanics, it was easy to rank him as the top prospect in the country, although there was plenty of discussion and some anxiety about it. The tools, the personality, and the performance were just too loud.
Frazier went out the next spring and sealed the deal with a single performance. His March 12 matchup against fellow top prospect and 2012 PG All-American Austin Meadows was the most talked about and scouted game of the spring. Frazier hit two home runs, including an epic blast that was one of the longest observers had ever seen (watch here).
He went on to hit .485-17-45 his senior year and added 22 stolen bases. The Indians picked him with the fifth overall pick, giving him a $3.5 million signing bonus. —David Rawnsley
Tyler Naquin – OF
A talented two-way prospect in high school, Naquin's arm strength was evident early in his career. Playing for the Houston Heat travel ball club at the 2008 WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., Naquin dialed his fastball up to 92 mph from a low-effort delivery on the mound, working consistently in the 88-91 range while consistently making hard, line-drive contact. A high-energy player, Naquin got down the first-base line quickly, busting out of the box at contact, and was aggressive on the basepaths even though he wasn't a pure burner.
A 6-foot-1, 160-pound athlete, Naquin's talents were evident, but it was clear at the time that three years in college could go a long way for his prospective draft stock as he added strength and honed his left-handed swing, especially after he was drafted by the Orioles in the 33rd round of the 2009 draft.
That occurred at Texas A&M, although not initially, as he hit .244 as a freshman prior to his breakout sophomore campaign when he led the Big 12 with a .381 average and the entire nation in hits with 104. His numbers were nearly identical his junior year.
His overall profile was that as an outfield tweener. While he showed very good plate discipline and pitch recognition skills, he never displayed the raw power potential to be an everyday fixture on an outfield corner. And while he showed good speed and instincts, center field wasn't a perfect fit either. For as good as he was as a hitter, his aforementioned arm strength remained his best pure tool, routinely showing off accurate, cannon-like throws from right field playing for the Aggies.
However, Naquin may have been ranked even higher than his PG pre-draft rank as the 20th overall prospect had he been the regular center fielder for Texas A&M. He played right field in college due to the presence of teammate Krey Bratsen, a more dynamic athlete who possessed true game-changing speed. Either way, Naquin's draft ranking was a good estimation for his eventual selection, as the Indians took him with the 15th overall pick in the 2013 draft when he was considered one of the safest bets to succeed at the professional level. —Patrick Ebert
Mitch Brown – RHP
Brown was a four-year veteran of Perfect Game events, pitching at 19 different tournaments and showcases starting with the 2009 WWBA National invitational. His notes from that event, where he topped out at 78 mph, read:
Slender, athletic body, very young, smooth delivery, longer 2-piece arm action, sharp 11/5 CB, lands closed, across body, good shape on CB, can pitch a bit, has idea, body and arm project, throws easy, High 3/4's.
Brown filled out to a strong 6-foot-2, 210-pounds over the next four years and saw his fastball grow into a 90-plus mph pitch, but much of the rest of that initial scouting blueprint remained the same. He always had a long and fast arm action, he always had an advanced idea how to pitch despite his Minnesota roots, and he could always spin the ball.
The curveball was his out-pitch early in his high-school career, but he kept adding to his breaking-ball arsenal as he got older. Brown added a slider first, then eventually figured out how to throw a cutter off his fastball. He pitched at the 2012 PG Pitcher/Catcher Indoor Showcase prior to his senior high-school season, and while he showed some understandable young confusion about his multiple breaking balls, there was no mistaking the quality. Brown's notes from that event, where he was 90-93 mph on his fastball, read:
Mature well proportioned build, good strength. On line hand drop delivery, fairly fast pace, quick easy arm, CB has hard tight spin, good life on Chg, very straight FB, will come inside with FB, H 3/4's, throws downhill, more effort on CB than FB, good change mechanics/arm speed, tends to bury CB, works quickly, everything down in zone. Needs to ID breaking balls, threw 76 downer and 84 SL during warm-ups, 79 slurve and 88 cutter in games. Like the 76/84/88 progression and not the 79.
Brown was even better during the spring than he was on that cold, indoor February weekend. He was in the mid-90s right out of the gate and showed all the national-level scouts flocking to Minnesota the quality and variety of his breaking stuff.
One other aspect of Brown's overall resume endeared him especially to the area scouts. Home visits are often the bane of the area scout's existence. The Brown Family, although both parents are professionals and not farmers, live at the end of a series of dirt roads well outside of Rochester. Multiple area scouts told the story of visiting the Brown's something like this: "That house is pretty much impossible to find; I think I drove past that last dirt road twice before finally convincing myself to try it. But once I got there, that might have been the nicest family I've ever visited." —David Rawnsley
Buck Farmer – RHP
If it seemed to serious prospect fans as if George Runie "Buck" Farmer had been around forever when he made his MLB debut last summer, a scant 14 months after being signed out of Georgia Tech, there is good reason for it: He pretty much has.
Farmer made his debut with Perfect Game as a 15-year-old, rising sophomore at the 2006 17u WWBA National Championship playing for the Ocee Stars. He was 6-foot-3, 190-pounds at that point and throwing in the mid-80s off the mound while gaining as much attention for his powerful left-handed bat. Farmer went on to become one of the better two-way performers in the high-school and travel-ball circuits, including winning the MVP award for the East Cobb Yankees after they won the 2008 Connie Mack national championship. The hometown Braves picked him in the 46th round of the 2009 draft despite his commitment to Georgia Tech.
Farmer was a major contributor for four seasons at Georgia Tech, pitching out of the bullpen primarily as a freshman and as a weekend starter for his final three seasons. He went 8-4 with a 3.54 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 106 innings as a junior and was considered a potential high-round draft pick. However, Farmer slid in that 2012 draft as clubs believed he wanted to return to Georgia Tech for his senior year, finally being picked by the Brewers with a 15th-round pick. He did return as a senior to post a 9-5, 2.78 record with 122 strikeouts in 113 innings.
Farmer's scouting reputation throughout his college career was much the same as it was when he was in high school. His fastball worked in the low 90s and would flash plus occasionally, as would his slider and changeup. But he didn't consistently show a plus pitch and depended as much on his durability (he's never had an injury concern or likely even missed a start) and his ability to pitch as his raw stuff. In scout's eyes, Farmer was, and always had been, the consummate low-risk, back-of-the-rotation starter.
And that is what he is today, many years later. —David Rawnsley
Kevin Ziomek – LHP
Vanderbilt recruits the Northeast as well as any other college, as left-handed pitcher Kevin Ziomek was a well-known talent coming out of high school. The Amherst, Mass. native was taken in the 2010 draft by the Diamondbacks in the 13th round, but as the 46th-best overall high-school prospect in his class, he would have gone much higher if it weren't for his commitment to play for the Commodores.
Prior to attending college Ziomek worked comfortably in the upper 80s and frequently peaked at 91 mph while mixing in three quality off-speed pitches, with his power slider and advanced changeup standing out. He garnered a perfect PG grade of 10 at the 2009 National Showcase, and at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, he offered a lean, projectable build with obvious potential gains in fastball velocity thanks to a fast, loose arm and fluid delivery.
Not surprisingly, Ziomek enjoyed immediate success during his freshman year at Vanderbilt as he was eased into SEC competition in a set-up role out of the bullpen. However, he didn't enjoy the same success the summer that followed, and the same was true during his sophomore year. Ziomek rebounded well during his second stint on the Cape in 2012, leading to his breakout junior campaign.
Here's a part of Ziomek's pre-draft report in the spring of 2013 when he was ranked the 48th overall prospect:
(Ziomek) was as dominant in his short stint as any pitcher on the Cape with the possible exception of Hyannis left-hander Sean Manaea, a top prospect for this year’s draft, with his solid-average major league fastball, tight, downer breaking ball and changeup all working in unison, all thrown with the same arm action. His changeup, in particular, was outstanding and made his 91-93 mph fastball look even faster, and also enabled him to freeze hitters with his breaking ball. For the second straight year, Ziomek’s performance in summer-league competition—good or bad—has largely carried over to the following spring, and he has gone a sparkling 9-2, 2.03 through his first 12 starts as Vanderbilt’s Friday starter. In 89 innings, he has allowed just 53 hits, walked 29 and struck out 88—a significant upgrade from 2012. With a couple of minor exceptions when his velocity dipped, Ziomek has pitched every bit as impressively as a junior for the Commodores as he did in his five-game cameo on the Cape, with stuff and command to match. In the end, Ziomek has done pretty much everything this spring that he was supposed to do from the beginning of his career at Vanderbilt.
Ziomek's expected, yet modest uptick in velocity, as well as possessing one of the best changeups in the 2013 draft, led to him being selected by the Tigers in the second round with the 58th overall pick, which reflects his pre-draft ranking that year. —Patrick Ebert
Joe Jimenez – RHP
The thing that stands out immediately when you look at Jimenez and his Top 10 prospect status with the Tigers is that he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tigers during the summer of 2013. One's reaction, without knowing the player's background, would be "Wow, the Tigers did a great job of scouting there; they must have seen something that no one else did."
The Tigers obviously did do a good job, but it wasn't because Jimenez wasn't a well-known prospect. At draft time, Jimenez was the second-ranked prospect from Puerto Rico on the Perfect Game class of 2013 rankings behind PG All-American Jan Hernandez and was the 95th-ranked overall prospect in the entire class.
Multiple scouting industry contacts at the time, and media reports afterwards, said that Jimenez, who was a very good student at Puerto Rico Baseball Academy and High School and had signed with Florida International, floated a large number as the bonus he needed to sign and didn't waver from that number through the draft. No team even ventured a mid-round or late-round pick on him, which in retrospect seems like 30 teams worth of mistakes, so he went completely undrafted and was thus a free agent when the draft ended.
Jimenez had made his big debut about 18 months prior to the draft when he pitched at the 2011 WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., for a Perfect Game team. He pitched in the 90-92 range at that heavily scouted event, although his big, strong body had some softness to it.
Over those 18 months, Jimenez did two things that made his prospect stock continue to rise. First, he worked on his conditioning and gradually turned some of that softness into mature muscle while maintaining the looseness and speed in his arm. Secondly, he developed a slider that was a legitimate second pitch to go with his steady low-90s fastball. Jimenez had started out throwing a soft, low-70s curveball that was strictly a get-me-over pitch that he commanded well, but that would be an easy target for barrels at the professional level.
Based on his build, his delivery while an amateur and his pitches—Jimenez also threw a very serviceable changeup prior to signing—it seemed as if he would have a future as a starter. He's obviously blossomed thus far as a reliever, but maybe the key part of the entire process was just the local Tigers scout sticking with the undrafted free agent and getting the deal done. —David Rawnsley
Hunter Dozier – 3B
Like his fellow Royals' top prospects and first-round picks Kyle Zimmer and Sean Manaea, Dozier was an unheralded prospect out of high school who fell under the scouting radar and went to a less than prominent baseball school.
In Dozier's case, he attended Denton High School on the north side of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, where he was a three-year starter in baseball along with quarterbacking the football team. He gave up football after breaking his collarbone his junior year in order to concentrate on baseball. Dozier stood out as both a lanky middle infielder and as a right-handed pitcher on the baseball field. He only appeared in a couple of Perfect Game tournaments for the Dallas Tigers after his sophomore year and was listed at a slender 6-foot-3, 160-pounds. When he arrived at the Stephen F. Austin campus northeast of Houston for his freshman year, Dozier was listed at 6-foot-3, 195-pounds.
Dozier was a starter at shortstop for Stephen F. Austin from the beginning of his freshman year in 2011 and immediately stood out for his athleticism in the middle infield and for his right-handed power potential. Stephen F. Austin is usually not a homing beacon for scouts and cross-checkers, but they received plenty of attention in 2011 due to his teammate, outfielder Bryson Myles. Myles was eventually picked by the Indians in the sixth round and his presence helped put Dozier on the scouting map.
By Dozier's junior year, he had grown to 6-foot-4, 220-pounds. Although he still moved well at shortstop, scouts had already consigned him to third base at the professional level. What created the most interest was Dozier's power, as he hit .396-17-52 as a junior.
Most scouts and analysts believed Dozier to be a late first-round to early second-round pick leading up to the 2013 draft. The Royals, holding the eighth and 34th picks, didn't want to risk trying to let Dozier slide to their second pick. So they created and executed a plan to pick Dozier in the eighth slot while grabbing Manaea, a potential first overall pick prior to his injury-plagued junior season, with the 34th pick. Dozier signed almost immediately for a $2.2 million signing bonus, saving the Royals $937,800 on the assigned slot value that they then used to help sign Manaea. —David Rawnsley
Kyle Zimmer – RHP
Scouts often refer to a young pitcher who hasn't thrown much as having a fresh or low-mileage arm. It's almost always used as a positive term, translating to "he hasn't been abused or taught bad things yet."
It can also be a double-edged sword on occasion, as the Royals are finding out while trying to get Zimmer healthy enough to use his prodigious talent on the mound. And you won't find a top-prospect pitcher with much lower mileage on his arm than Zimmer.
Zimmer's high-school baseball resume at the end of his junior season at La Jolla High School consisted of one year of varsity play as a reserve position player, where he hit .191-1-2 in 47 at-bats, with no appearances on the mound. He blossomed as a third baseman as a senior, hitting .375-4-23 and was recruited by the University of San Francisco as a position player. Zimmer did pitch some as a senior, going 3-3, 4.69 and allowing 38 baserunnners in 22 innings.
Zimmer didn't get into a game as a freshman position player at USF his freshman year, but he did make five short-relief appearances on the mound totaling 5 1/3 innings (0-0, 8.44). He didn't become a full-time pitcher until his sophomore year, going 6-4, 3.73 in 91 innings for the Dons and helping them to an NCAA Regional berth. Still, Zimmer was a virtual unknown to scouts until he took the mound against UCLA's Gerrit Cole, the then-presumed first overall pick in the 2011 draft, in the first Regional game. With a capacity crowd watching, including plenty of scouts, Zimmer threw a complete game shutout to out-duel Cole, striking out 11 Bruins with the combination of a 92-94 mph fastball and a plus curveball. Right there he went from an unknown to a potential first-round pick in nine innings.
The kind of stuff and the command that Zimmer surprisingly had in spite his lack of experience continued through the summer in the Cape Cod League and through his junior year, where he went 5-3, 2.85 in 13 starts and 88 innings, striking out 107 hitters while only walking 17. He did miss a couple of late-season starts with a hamstring injury which complicated his draft status a bit, as teams couldn't get that valuable final look at him before the draft.
The Royals jumped on Zimmer right away, grabbing him with the fifth overall pick and signed him quickly with a $3 million signing bonus. —David Rawnsley
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