2014 MLB draft: 10 high school players on the rise — third edition
The 2014 MLB draft is loaded with prep arms. It could be the most talented crop of high school arms ever, and some are rocketing up draft boards with their early showings this season. A couple of those guys are mentioned here, along with some talented offensive players. Here is my third installment of 10 prep players who have impressed of late:
Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS (CA)
No one is rising faster than Aiken, and many now have him as their number-one prospect in the 2014 MLB draft. With two potential plus offspeed offerings, great command of his stuff , an easy delivery and his size (6’-4”, 200 pounds), the only thing scouts wanted to see was added velocity. After sitting 88-91 mph over the summer, he has been up to 97 mph this spring and sitting around 92-94 mph. With that kind of stuff from the left side, mixed with his extreme polish on the mound, everyone is salivating, especially Houston Astros fans. Over 8.2 innings this season, he has 20 strikeouts to two walks. Committed to UCLA.
Chase Vallot, C/OF, St. Thomas More HS (LA)
I don’t think anyone in the country is mashing the ball quite like Vallot is this season. Over 18 games, he is hitting .583/.672/1.270 (1.943 OPS) with 10 doubles, a triple, seven home runs and 36 RBI. He has also drawn 17 walks and I’m not really sure why he wouldn’t get a free pass every time going forward. One of the youngest players in the draft, the 6’-0”, 205-pound right-hander generates a ton of raw power due to his bat speed and strong wrists. His strong arm, size and footwork could allow him to stick at a premium position but some believe a move to a corner outfield position is likely where the power would play well. Another player I got to see at Wrigley, he hit a couple bombs out of the park with ease and showed a polished approach at the plate during the game. Committed to Mississippi State.
Michael Kopech, RHP, Mount Pleasant HS (TX)
On Tuesday, March 25, Kopech had 16 strikeouts to two walks over seven shutout innings. He now has 59 K/7 BB over 29 innings, allowing just 11 hits. The 6’-4”, right-hander has touched 98 mph with his fastball this season, and his mechanics and size could allow for even more velocity. He adds a plus slider with hard bite and is one of my favorite players in this year’s class. I saw him at the 2013 Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley, and he put on a clinic in his one inning of work. Committed to Arizona.
Ryan Castellani, OF/RHP, Brophy Prep HS (AZ)
The 6’-4”, 200 pound right-hander has been heating up at the plate recently. Over his last four games, he has gone 7-for-11 with two doubles, a triple and two home runs. On the season, he is now up to .391/.500/.783 with six doubles, three triples and two home runs. He has upside as a power-hitting outfielder but he also has an advanced feel for the mound. He can dial his fastball up to 93 mph with late, downward life. He adds a mid-70s curve and a change-up that sits in the 79-83 mph range and both project to above-average pitches down the road. He has good command of his stuff, and there is still room for projection due to his size and easy mechanics. Over 27 innings this season, he has 30 K/10 BB. Committed to Arizona State.
Jeremy Vasquez, OF/1B, Martin County HS (FL)
Vasquez made the list last week, and he makes it again after going 14-for-20 over his last six games with nine doubles and six walks. For the season, he is now hitting a silly .596/.683/.958 over 15 games with 12 doubles, a triple, a home run and 12 walks to just three strikeouts. At 6’-1” and 200 pounds, he generates a ton of power from the left side and has an advanced approach at the plate — rarely missing a pitch. There will be added pressure put on his bat if he is relegated to first base, but the bat is special and the power is legit. One of the youngest players in his class, the upside is even greater. Committed to Florida.
Jack Flaherty, RHP/3B, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
In his last start, Flaherty struck out 14 over seven innings, allowing two hits. He has been nearly untouchable all season and has been touching 93 mph with his fastball along with flashing a plus slider. Still somewhat raw as a pitcher as he has split his time focusing on hitting as well, he has shown higher upside on the mound this year even though his upside as a power hitting third baseman is huge. At 6’-4” and 200 pounds, he has been clocked at 6.37 in the 60 and is a great athlete. Committed to North Carolina.
Justin Smith, OF, Bartram Trail HS (FL)
The 6’-2”, 200 pound right-hander is starting to show why he is considered a five-tool prospect. Over his last four games, he has gone 7-for-12 with a double, home run, five walks and three stolen bases. For the season, he is now hitting .372/.571/.465 with 20 walks and nine stolen bases over 16 games. His strong arm (92 mph from outfield) and speed (6.6/60) will allow him a chance to stick at center field. He is still considered raw in some areas, but his excellent bat speed, along with his frame, make for a huge upside. Committed to Miami.
Greg Deichmann, 3B, Brother Martin HS (LA)
At 6’-2” and 190 pounds, the left-handed hitter carries some big time power potential in his bat and has been displaying it this season. Over 17 games, he has already smacked eight home runs and swiped 12 bases, showing his athleticism. He has a legit shot to stick at shortstop due to his plus arm, range and instincts. Even if he is forced to move off, however, all of his tools would play well at third base. With his excellent bat speed, he should hit for a good average, as well. Committed to USC.
Carson Sands, RHP, North Florida Christian HS (FL)
In a huge match-up between Adam Haseley of The First Academy, Sands was brilliant allowing one run on one hit over 6.2 innings, striking out 11 to one walk in a 7-1 win. Kiley McDaniel at Scoutingbaseball.com tweeted that he was hitting 92 mph with his fastball with plus life. For the season, he now has 45 K/11 BB over 24.2 innings, allowing 10 hits. The 6’-3”, 215 pound southpaw has a low-90s fastball with arm-side run and there is still room for more velocity as he matures. He has great mound presence and looks like a polished pro. He also shows two solid secondaries in a change-up and curveball. Committed to Florida State.
Milton Ramos, SS, American Heritage HS (FL)
One of the best defensive shortstops in the 2014 MLB draft, if not the best, Ramos is a 6’-1”, 170 pound right-hander with a lot of upside offensively, as well. He has shown some pop this season hitting .487/.543/.923 over 12 games with two doubles, three triples and three home runs. He has added seven stolen bases and has been clocked at 6.53 in the 60, showing above-average speed on the base paths. If he continues to show his offensive skills, he could go in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft.
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