2014 MLB draft: 10 high school players on the rise — seventh edition
I think it is safe to say the first round of the 2014 MLB draft is going to be well represented by high school players. This class is so deep — especially on arms — that it could go down as the best ever. Here are 10 who have been impressing as of late:
Michael Gettys, OF, Gainesville HS (GA)
Gettys has been red hot as of late, showing off skills people have been raving about for years. Over his last eight games, he has gone 12-for-24 with four doubles, five home runs, 21 RBI and five walks. He is now hitting .400/.506/.862 over 22 games with six doubles, eight home runs, 36 RBI and eight stolen bases. At 6’-2” and 200 pounds, the right-hander has plus speed, a plus/plus arm and tremendous power potential due to his bat speed. A star on the mound, as well, he has been focusing more on hitting this year and the results speak for themselves. A first-round pick and could go top-10 as his upside is as high as anyone’s in the 2014 MLB draft. Committed to Georgia.
Jacob Bukauskas, RHP, Stone Ridge HS (VA)
In his last start, Bukauskas was reportedly touching 100 mph en route to striking out 18 to no walks over seven innings, allowing just one hit. He now has a mind-boggling 68 K/3 BB over 29.2 shutout innings, allowing just eight hits. The 6’-1”, 200 pound right-hander has been consistently hitting the upper-90s this spring and has been throwing harder as the weather warms up. He adds a deceptive change-up with nice fade and a tight slider. He has great command of his stuff and is looking like a good bet for the first round the way he been throwing this spring. Committed to North Carolina.
Foster Griffin, LHP, The First Academy (FL)
As the season goes on, Griffin just keeps getting better. Over his last six appearances, he has 51 K/8 BB over 28 shutout innings, allowing 13 hits. One of the best southpaws in the 2014 MLB draft, Griffin is a 6’-5”, 190 pound power arm who can touch 95 mph with his fastball. He adds a solid breaking ball, and his smooth delivery and athleticism bodes well for his projection. Has been generating a lot of first round buzz all year. Committed to Ole Miss.
Justin Smith, OF, Bartram Trail HS (FL)
The five-tool prospect has been showing exactly why he has that label attached to him. Over his last 12 games, he has gone 16-for-37 (.432) with four doubles, three home runs, three stolen bases and 11 walks for a .571 OBP/.784 SLG. At 6’-2” and 200 pounds, the right-hander has great speed (6.58/60) a strong arm (92 mph from the outfield) and has a chance to stick in center field. He shows a patient approach at the plate as he has drawn a whopping 26 walks over 24 games. He should hear his name called on day one. Committed to Miami (FL).
Alex Destino, LHP/OF, North Buncombe HS (NC)
Few have been hitting the baseball as well as Destino has this year. Through 17 games, he is hitting .528/.600/1.102 with 10 doubles, eight home runs and only three strikeouts. At 6’-3” and 220 pounds, the left-hander has a lot of upside as a power-hitting outfielder with a great approach and a canon arm. Having said that, he may have more upside on the mound where his fastball can touch 93 mph and he adds a mid-70s slider and low-80s change-up. With full-time focus on pitching, he should add velocity and he has great arm speed. Through 40.1 innings, he has 68 K/22 BB. A great two-way talent who could sneak into the first round. Committed to South Carolina.
Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS (CA)
Aiken had 11 strikeouts over 4.2 innings on April 16, allowing a run on three hits. He now has 59 K/6 BB over 30.2 innings and has allowed 13 hits. The 6’-4”, 200 pound southpaw has firmly cemented himself at the top of the list with Tyler Kolek as far as prep arms go. He has been sitting 92-94 mph with his fastball and adds two potential off-speed offerings. Arguably more polished than any other prep arm, Aiken has been drawing the Clayton Kershaw comparisons and you can’t get much higher praise than that. A top-five pick and could go first overall. Committed to UCLA.
Alex Jackson, C/OF, Rancho Bernardo HS (CA)
Already considered the best prep bat in the 2014 MLB draft and a sure-fire, top-10 pick, Jackson can’t really rise much higher. He has, however, been doing exactly what was expected from him this year — hitting bombs and showing an advanced approach at the plate. Through 19 games, he has hit eight home runs, drawn 16 walks to six strikeouts and is hitting .400/.577/.727. The 6’-2”, 215 pound right-hander has some of the easiest power in the entire 2014 MLB draft, and he should hit for a high average due to his approach, excellent bat speed and ability to hit to all fields. It doesn’t even matter if he sticks at catcher or makes the move to the outfield because his bat is what makes scouts drool. Committed to Oregon.
Carson Sands, LHP, North Florida Christian HS (FL)
One of the more polished arms in his class, Sands is a 6’-3”, 215 pound southpaw with a low-90s fastball with good arm-side run. He adds two solid secondary offerings in a change-up and curveball and he has great mound presence. Over 40.2 innings this year, he has 71 K/17 BB and has allowed just two runs on 16 hits. A Team USA Baseball alum, Sands has been in the spotlight for years and should also hear his name on day one. Committed to Florida State.
Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS (FL)
In his last start on April 17, Reid-Foley eclipsed the 100 strikeout mark for the season as he struck out nine to one walk over five no-hit innings. He now has 101 K/17 BB over 52 innings, allowing just 13 hits. The 6’-4”, 200 pound right-hander has been rising all season due to his size and four-pitch mix. His fastball touches 94 mph with late life, and he adds a filthy, upper-70s curveball that is one of the best in this deep class of prep arms. His slider has shown flashes of plus potential and his change-up is still developing. Another one of my favorites, he is looking like a first-round pick and could go top-20. Committed to Florida State.
Cameron Varga, RHP, Cincinnati Hills HS (OH)
One of my personal favorites in this class, Varga just keeps blowing away the competition. He tossed a no-hitter on April 17, striking out 13 to no walks over five innings and now has a silly 55 K/3 BB over 24 innings, allowing one run on just eight hits. His 20.6 K/9 ratio shows the kind of power he has in his arm. At 6’-4” and 200 pounds, he already has the size you want in a frontline starter. He also has the stuff, headlined by a fastball that sits 92-95 and an upper-70s curveball with depth and fade. He is an athlete, has a fresh arm and still has a lot of projection. Has secured himself firmly in the first round in my opinion, and could go top-15. Committed to North Carolina.
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