2014 MLB draft: 15 high school players who improved their stock the most
I recently posted an article on the top college players who improved their 2014 MLB draft stock the most this year. Now it’s time for the high school kids. I decided to leave off RHP Jacob Bukauskas of Stone Bridge HS in Virginia only because he said he will honor his commitment to North Carolina. Bukauskas would have definitely made the list as he was hitting triple-digits this season and has a lot of upside due to his athleticism and present stuff. Here are 15 other players who raised their stock this season due to their progress and upside:
Cody Reed, LHP, Ardmore HS (AL)
No one, I mean no one, put up sillier looking numbers than Reed this year. He was simply too much for opposing hitters, and high school juniors in Alabama are probably glad to see him move on with his career. Over 88 innings, he had 216 strikeouts to just 15 walks. He allowed five runs on 27 hits and he struck out 18 or more batters in six of his 13 starts. At 6’-3” and 250 pounds, he is an intimidating force on the mound and can run his fastball up to 95 mph from the left side. He adds a sharp slider with depth, and his change-up is solid, although he doesn’t need it right now as he can just blow away hitters with the gas. Even as a Vanderbilt recruit, he came into the year a bit off the radar. As of now, he could go on day one.
Cameron Varga, RHP, Cincinnati Christian Academy (OH)
Of the 132 outs Varga recorded this year, 110 have come via strikeout. He has tossed four no-hitters and struck out 31 over his last 10 innings. For the year, he has 110 K/4 BB over 44 innings, allowing one run on 10 hits. At 6’-4” and 205 pounds, the right-hander has been sitting 92-95 mph with his fastball and he adds an upper-70s curveball that shows plus potential. His change-up also shows a lot of potential and he has a loose, easy delivery. A terrific athlete, he also has a fresh arm as he was a shortstop to start his high school career. He is one of the older kids in his class but there is still upside to his athleticism and rapid progression. He has a strong chance to land in the first round and probably won’t get past the comp picks. Committed to North Carolina.
Michael Kopech, RHP, Mount Pleasant HS (TX)
I sat behind home plate and watched Kopech strike out Alex Jackson on three straight sliders, then strikeout Michael Gettys and Monte Harrison for a perfect inning of work at the Under Armour AA Game at Wrigley Field last summer. He was showing a filthy, plus slider and a fastball that touched 96 mph with late life. I asked a couple of guys in the industry where he sat in the draft and most said he was a third-round pick. After hitting 98 mph with his fastball this spring and finishing with 129 K/18 BB over 64 innings, allowing just 25 hits, he is now a possible first round pick. The 6’-3”, 190 pound right-hander has a great pitcher’s body and has ironed out some mechanical issues to become one of the top prep arms in a class extremely deep in them. Committed to Arizona.
Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS (CA)
Aiken went from middle of the first round talks to possible 1.1 by adding a couple of ticks to his fastball. At 6’-4” and 200 pounds, the southpaw already was considered the most polished pitcher in his class and had easy stuff from the left side. He showed two future plus pitches in a curveball with great depth and a deceptive change-up. He has shown great command of his stuff to go along with great mound presence. Once he started sitting 92-95 mph with his fastball, he rose right to the top of almost everyone’s draft boards. Through 53.2 innings, he has 97 K/13 BB, allowing seven runs on 23 hits. Committed to UCLA.
Michael Chavis, 3B, Sprayberry HS (GA)
Chavis came into this year mostly known for his immense power potential. He can put on a show in the batting cage and wins just about every home run derby he enters. He showed a better overall game as a senior and is now mentioned as a possible top-20 pick. With his athleticism, soft hands and strong arm, he seems best suited for third base where the power would more than justify the position. He has excellent bat speed, a great approach at the plate and can hit to all fields. Over 30 games, he hit .536/.632/1.143 with seven doubles, 14 home runs, 17 stolen bases and 16 walks to just 10 strikeouts. Committed to Clemson.
Derek Hill, OF, Elk Grove HS (CA)
Hill entered his senior year known for being arguably the best defensive outfielder in his class. The 6’-2”, 180 pound right-hander has plus speed (6.38/60), a strong arm and runs perfect routes in center field. His biggest improvement has come on offense where he has shown an advanced approach and developing power even though he hasn’t hit a home run this year. Through 26 games, he is hitting .517/.600/.782 with nine doubles, seven triples and 18 stolen bases. With his size, many believe more home run power will come as he matures and his glove is already elite. I have seen him get a lot of first-round buzz lately. Committed to Oregon.
Nick Gordon, SS, Olympia HS (FL)
Gordon was a well-known name coming into the year and a likely first-round pick. He is now mentioned as a possible top-five pick as his overall game has matured quicker than most thought. He added about 15 pounds of muscle and has shown a lot more pop in his game while maintaining his plus speed and athleticism. With a strong arm, great instincts and range, he should stick at shortstop. Some have questioned his hit tool but he has done nothing but hit this year and has shows an advanced approach from the left side. Over 30 games, he hit .506/.613/.874 with 10 doubles, six home runs, 19 stolen bases and drew 18 walks to just three strikeouts. Committed to Florida State.
Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS (FL)
Reid-Foley started the year as a borderline first round pick and is now in discussions for the top-20 after an impressive spring in which he showed the makings of a four-pitch mix. His curveball is one of the best in his class — an upper-70s hammer with great depth. His fastball touches 94 mph with late life, his slider shows flashes of plus potential and his change-up is still developing. At 6’-4” and 190 pounds, the right-hander has upside due to his athleticism and easy delivery. Over 65.2 innings, he had 120 K/15 BB and allowed just 17 hits. Committed to Florida State.
Chase Vallot, C, St. Thomas More HS (LA)
Power comes easy for Vallot and the 6’-1”, 205 pound right-hander has some of the best of it in his class. He also showed a better overall hit tool this spring, and his plus arm and footwork behind the plate should allow him to stick there — although the arm and bat would play well in a corner outfield spot. Over 36 games, he hit .550/.656/1.107 with 14 doubles, 13 home runs and 62 RBI and led his team to a state title. A great kid who is a tireless worker, Vallot is a leader both on the field and off. He should be gone on day one and is committed to Mississippi State.
Forrest Wall, 2B, Orangewood Christian HS (FL)
Wall showed off his plus speed, advanced hit tool and mature approach at the plate this spring. Because of those abilities, he is a possible first-round pick and won’t last past day one. The 6’-0”, 190 pound right-hander is a quick-twitch athlete with excellent bat speed and sprays the ball to all fields. Most feel more power will come, and he projects to a top-of-the-order hitter with the ability to rack up stolen bases and get on base at a high clip. Over 18 games this year, he hit .531/.634/.877 with 12 extra-base hits and was a perfect 26-for-26 in stolen base attempts. He also drew 19 walks to just six strikeouts. Committed to North Carolina.
Alex Destino, LHP/OF, North Buncombe HS (NC)
Destino entered the year with more upside as a pitcher than hitter. At 6’-3” and 220 pounds, the southpaw can touch 93 mph with his fastball and he adds a mid-70s slider and low-80s change-up. With full time focus, he should be able to refine his secondary offerings, work on his command and add a couple of ticks to his fastball. Through 73.1 innings this year, he has 116 K/41 BB and has allowed 36 hits. He was also a complete monster at the plate, hitting .535/.598/1.118 with 14 doubles, 15 home runs and only four strikeouts. He has shown much more power this year, as well as an advanced approach from the left side. His size, power potential from the left side and strong arm make him an intriguing prospect whichever way he decides to go. Committed to South Carolina.
Foster Griffin, LHP, The First Academy
Foster showed an advanced feel for the mound this spring and he also touched 95 mph with his fastball. At 6’-5” and 190 pounds, the southpaw adds a change-up with good deception and his slider projects to an above-average offering. He has very good command of his stuff and is aggressive on the mound, attacking both sides of the plate. He has the size, stuff and mound presence you want in a frontline starter. He will be gone on day one and could go in the comp picks. Committed to Mississippi.
Spencer Adams, RHP, White County HS (GA)
At 6’-4” and 180 pounds, Adams is a terrific athlete who stars in three sports and can touch 95 mph with his fastball. Because of his size and athleticism, there is room in the tank for added velocity and his loose, easy mechanics bode well for his secondary refinement and command. His slider shows plus potential, and he also adds a curveball and change-up, giving him a four-pitch mix. Yet another Georgia kid who has propelled himself into first-round talks. Committed to Georgia.
Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway HS (SC)
The talk with Holmes always revolves around projection — or lack of. At 6’-2” and 200 pounds, most feel he has maxed out physically and might not get that much better, stuff wise. That’s okay because he is a stud already, and some feel like he is the best right-hander available in the 2014 MLB draft. He has the best current stuff with a fastball that can touch 100 mph and sits 92-95 mph with late life. He adds a plus curveball that sits 79-81 with late bite and great depth. His change-up already is an above-average offering, sitting 84-86 mph. He repeats his delivery well and has great command of all three. He has a good chance of going in the top 10. Committed to Florida.
Tyler Kolek, RHP, Shepherd HS (TX)
Kolek was already considered a top-five pick coming into the year. The fact that he kept his arm together in a year when pitchers have been dropping left and right to Tommy John surgery is a testament to his abilities, conditioning and handling by his coaches. He never pitched less than six days apart and averaged 86.6 pitches per start. Over 54.1 innings, he had 112 K/6 BB, allowing two runs on 20 hits. The 6’-5”, 240 pound right-hander routinely hits triple-digits with his fastball and he also shows the makings of a future plus slider. He didn’t need a change-up in high school but he shows a good feel for one already. He could go first-overall and shouldn‘t get past the Twins at five. Committed to TCU.
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