2014 MLB draft: high school players on the rise — final edition
With most high school seasons around the country wrapping up for the year, this will be the final edition of my prep risers articles for 2014 MLB draft. I have decided to include all of my favorites from the year. Players who both put up gaudy numbers, as well as showed great improvements in their game. This is not a list of the 30 best players in the class, just 30 players I have enjoyed following throughout the season. Here are my top 30 high school risers from this year, in no particular order:
Jacob Bukauskas, RHP, Stone Bridge HS (VA)
Bukauskas has said he will forgo the 2014 MLB draft and honor his commitment to North Carolina. That is a huge coup for the Tar Heels as the 6’-1” right-hander can touch triple-digits with his fastball, and he adds a deceptive change-up with nice fade and a slider. Over 43.1 shutout innings this year, he has 98 K/5 BB, allowing just 11 hits. Will be a big name in the 2017 MLB draft.
Cameron Varga, RHP, Cincinnati Christian HS (OH)
Varga has been ridiculous this year. With a fastball that has been sitting 92-94 mph, along with an upper-70s curveball with great depth, he has absolutely blown away the competition this season. Over 39 innings, he has allowed just one run on 10 hits while striking out 94 to four walks. He has tossed three no-hitters and, in his last outing, struck out every batter he faced over five innings. At 6’-4” and 200 pounds, he has the size and stuff to be a TOR starter. Committed to North Carolina.
Cody Reed, LHP, Ardmore HS (AL)
High school stats can look silly at times. When you have filthy stuff, and play at a small school facing inferior competition, the numbers can get out of control. Such is the case for Reed. Through 77 innings, he has 193 K/12 BB, allowing just 24 hits. To put that into perspective, he is on pace for 501 strikeouts over 200 innings. That would be a record and instant admission into the Hall of Fame. At 6’-2” and 240 pounds, he has been touching 95 mph and adds solid secondary stuff. He is a Vanderbilt commit and they have a good track record of keeping their commits.
Michael Chavis, 3B, Sprayberry HS (GA)
Not many have improved their stock as much as Chavis has this year. He has continued to show his massive power potential, advanced hit tool and athletic abilities to stick in the infield. He hit four home runs in his last two games and hit .536/.632/1.143 over 30 games with seven doubles, 14 home runs and 17 stolen bases. He played shortstop and should be able to handle third base at the next level where the bat will more than play well. He looks like a good bet for the first round. Committed to Clemson.
Alex Destino, LHP, OF, North Buncombe HS (NC)
Maybe the best two-way player this year, Destino has done it all for the Blackhawks. On the mound, he has 94 K/31 BB over 58.1 innings, allowing 11 runs on 29 hits. At the plate, he is hitting .560/.623/1.179 over 24 games with 13 doubles, 13 home runs and just four strikeouts. At 6’-3” and 220 pounds, the left-hander has equal upside as both a pitcher and hitter. He is also a very good athlete which bodes well for projection. 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. Committed to South Carolina.
Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS (FL)
One of my favorites in the 2014 MLB draft, Foley was brilliant all season for the Saints. Over 67 innings, he had 124 K/17 BB, allowing six runs on just 17 hits. He tossed three no-hitters and was nearly untouchable all year. 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. Could go top-20 and is committed to Florida State.
Michael Kopech, RHP, Mount Pleasant HS (TX)
Kopech instantly won me over when I saw him at the Under Armour AA game at Wrigley Field last summer. He was popping the mitt, showing late life on his explosive fastball, and he was showing the makings of a plus slider that was wiping out hitters. He cleaned up his mechanics and has touched 98 mph this year. Through 57.2 innings, he has 121 K/14 BB. At 6’-4” and 200 pounds, I think he can sneak into the late first round. Committed to Arizona.
Forest Wall, 2B, Orangewood Christian HS (FL)
Wall has been getting a lot of first round buzz this year due to his great speed, advanced approach and excellent bat speed. At 6’-0” and 190 pounds, most believe more power will come as he matures and he is a quick-twitch athlete with a lot of upside. Over 18 games, 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.
Clay Casey, OF, De Soto Central HS (MS)
Few got into a zone quite like Casey did this year — and he’s still in it. Over his last 11 games, he has gone 23-for-32 (.719) with a double, four triples, nine home runs and 27 RBI. On the season, he is now hitting .511/.587/1.136 over 30 games with six doubles, five triples, 13 home runs and exactly 100 total bases. A very good athlete who also stars in football, the 6’-3”, 205 pound right-hander has tremendous power potential to go along with a strong arm in the outfield. He has a patient approach at the plate and has a lot of upside once he focuses full time on baseball. Committed to Ole Miss.
Jakson Reetz, C/OF, Norris HS (NE)
Reetz can play all over the field, and he can also hit the ball all over the field. He has proved no match for Nebraska pitching as he is hitting .588/.734/1.275 over 22 games with 12 doubles, seven home runs and 10 stolen bases. He has also drawn 22 walks and has struck out six times. His versatility makes him intriguing because of all the options he has. As a pitcher, he can hit the low-90s to go with an upper-70s slider. He can play the outfield where his arm would play well, third base where the arm and bat would play well, but catcher may be his best position, and he has all the tools to stick there. He may not be facing the best competition but he has always performed well on the showcase scene and is an alumni of Team USA Baseball. He is a day one talent but his commitment to Nebraska could make him a tough sign as there are a lot of family ties to the school.
Chase Vallot, C, St. Thomas More HS (LA)
Blessed with tremendous bat speed, Vallot is one of the best power bats in the 2014 MLB draft and he has a legitimate shot to stick behind the plate due to his receiving skills and plus arm. His offensive upside could force a move to the outfield, however. Through 31 games, he is hitting .529/.633/1.103 with 12 doubles, 12 home runs, 54 RBI and has drawn 24 walks to 14 strikeouts, showing a patient approach at the plate as team want nothing to do with him most of the time. Should go among the top-50 picks and is committed to Mississippi State.
Derek Hill, OF, Elk Grove HS (CA)
Playing for powerhouse Elk Grove, Hill has been a big name for years and is arguably the best defensive outfielder in the 2014 MLB draft. He can run a 6.44/60, has a plus, accurate arm and he has exceptional route running skills. At the plate, the 6’-2”, 190 pound right-hander has an easy, fluid swing and makes consistent contact. He hasn’t shown much home run power yet, but with his size (6’-2”, 190 pounds), most feel it will show up due to his bat speed. Through 23 games, he is hitting .520/.611/.805 with eight doubles, seven triples and 18 stolen bases. He is getting a lot of first-round buzz lately due to his total package. Committed to Oregon.
Michael Gettys, OF, Gainesville HS (GA)
Gettys has been closing the season strong, showing off his power potential and a better approach at the plate. Over his last 16 games, he is hitting .460/.565/.940 with six doubles, six home runs and 12 stolen bases. For the year, he is now hitting .407/.505/.791 with eight doubles, nine home runs and 20 stolen bases over 30 games. At 6’-2” and 200 pounds, the right-hander has a plus/plus arm, plus speed and a lot of raw power. He may have the highest upside among prep hitters, and I think he will go in the top 15. Committed to Georgia.
Matthew Railey, OF, North Florida Christian HS (FL)
With his advanced approach, excellent bat speed and developing power, Railey has impressed scouts all spring. At 5’-11” and 200 pounds, he has the classic, sweet left-handed swing and can drive the ball to all fields. A very good athlete despite not having great speed, he has a chance to stick in center field but might end up in left field. His bat is what makes him special, however, and he could go on day one. Through 25 games, he is hitting .443/.532/.785 with 10 doubles, five home runs and just seven strikeouts. Committed to Florida State.
Nick Gordon, SS, Olympia HS (FL)
Gordon has shown all the tools this year that will make him a superstar at the next level. He has been getting a lot of top-five talk lately and could be the first prep hitter off the board. He shows all the abilities to be a very good defender at shortstop, including a canon arm. At the plate, the left-handed hitter has an advanced approach and has shown a lot more power this year as he added 15 pounds of muscle in the off season. Over 30 games, he hit .506/.613/.874 with 10 doubles, six home runs and 19 stolen bases. He drew 18 walks and struck out just three times. Committed to Florida State.
Mac Marshall, LHP, Parkview HS (GA)
With a fastball that sits in the low-90s, an upper-70s curveball that shows plus potential, and an upper-70s change-up with a good feel, Marshall is one of the better southpaws available in the 2014 MLB draft. He is the best pitcher for one of the best programs in the country and is a big-game pitcher. Through 55.2 innings, he has 80 K/25 BB and has allowed just two runs on 24 hits. He could sneak into the first round and should be gone in the top-40 picks. Committed to LSU.
Alex Faedo, RHP, Alonso HS (FL)
Faedo has been rising all season and could go in the first three rounds of the 2014 MLB draft based on his size and upside. At 6’-5” and 210 pounds, the right-hander has a lot of projection and can touch 94 mph with his fastball. His slider shows plus potential and his easy delivery promises for more velocity. His change-up sits 77-80 mph, and he already has a good feel for it. He finished with 68 K/8 BB over 48 innings, allowing five runs on 27 hits. Committed to Florida.
Jeremy Vasquez, 1B, Martin County HS (FL)
One of the best hitters in his class, the 6’-1”, 190 pound Vasquez is a left-handed hitter with very good bat speed, power to all fields and an advanced approach at the plate. Over 28 games, he hit .511/.620/.841 with 15 doubles, four home runs and drew 23 walks to just eight strikeouts. He rarely misses a pitch and can wait for what he wants due to the bat speed. Defensively, he projects to a plus defender and he also has a strong arm. Could go in the first three rounds and is committed to Florida.
Justin Twine, SS/RHP, Falls City HS (TX)
A two-way standout in both baseball and football, Twine is a great athlete who has been a one-man wrecking crew for Falls City this season. At the plate, he is hitting .544/.672/1.196 over 16 games with six doubles, six triples, four home runs and has stolen 18 bases. He has drawn 16 walks to five strikeouts, showing a patient approach. On the mound, he has 49 K/8 BB over 21.1 innings, allowing just seven hits. At 5’-10” and 200 pounds, he has more upside as a position player where his speed (6.52/60) and strong arm will allow him to play at several positions. He is considered raw as he has split his time between sports, but he has all the tools and the power is already coming. Committed to TCU.
Trey Supak, RHP, La Grange HS (TX)
Tyler Kolek wasn’t the only big, Texas right-hander who improved his draft stock this year. Supak may not throw as hard as Kolek, although no one really does, he can hit the low-90s with his fastball and, at 6’-5’ and 220 pounds, there is room for more. He adds solid secondary stuff and got better as the season went on, showing good stamina. Over 66 innings, he had 125 K/26 BB, allowing four runs on 31 hits. He could hear his name on day one based on his size and projection. Committed to Houston.
Griffin Helms, C, Norcross HS (GA)
In a class weak on catchers, Helms makes for a big target behind the plate and is a very good athlete at 6’-1” and 200 pounds. He has a strong, accurate arm and has recorded 1.85 Pop times. He has been clocked at 6.59 in the 60 and could easily transition to a corner outfield spot where his tools would play well. Over 26 games, he hit .368/.441/.528 with three home runs and 12 stolen bases. His strong wrists and bat speed allow him power to all fields, and he has a patient approach at the plate. Committed to Kennesaw State.
Luke Bonfield, OF, IMG Academy (FL)
One of the best pure hitters in the 2014 MLB draft, Bonfield uses his excellent bat speed to make hard, consistent contact to all fields and he has an advanced approach at the plate. At 6’-2” and 190 pounds, more power should come as he matures and he is a good athlete having been times at 6.8 in the 60. He adds a strong arm and cover a lot of ground in the outfield. Through 24 games, he is hitting .379/.523/.712 with 14 extra-base hits and 20 walks to seven strikeouts. Based on his bat and upside alone, he could go day one. Committed to Arkansas.
Greg Deichmann, SS, Brother Martin HS (LA)
At 6’-2” and 190 pounds, the left-handed hitter has big time power potential. A very good athlete, he has the actions to stick at shortstop but a move to second base or third is likely and the bat will play well. His excellent bat speed allows him to wait on his pitch and drive it to all fields and he shows a patient approach at the plate because of that ability. Through 33 games, he is hitting .391/.562/.977 with nine doubles, three triples, 12 home runs and has stolen 16 bases. A kid who could hear his name on day one and he is committed to LSU.
Alex Verdugo, LHP/OF, Sahuaro HS (AZ)
Like Destino, Verdugo is a terrific athlete and two-way player. His upside seems higher on the mound where the 6’-1”, 200 pound left-hander has one of the best curveballs in his class with late bite and power. His fastball sits 89-92 mph and he should add more velocity if he continues to work full time as a pitcher. He adds a solid change-up to round out a three-pitch mix. Offensively, he has an advanced approach at the plate and plus bat speed that generates a lot of power from the left side. Through 27 games, he is hitting .550/.608/.925 with 17 doubles, three home runs and 13 stolen bases. He has drawn 15 walks to just three strikeouts. On the mound, he has 86 K/25 BB over 48.1 innings, allowing 13 runs on 27 hits. Because of his upside, he could go on day one. Committed to Arizona State.
Tyler Kolek, RHP, Shepherd HS (TX)
When you see him and hear him talk, you would think he was a 25-year old. Which is about right since he can throw harder than 99.9-percent of 25-year-olds. He has hit 103 mph this year and he has been flashing a plus slider to go along with a change-up that is headed in the same direction. At 6’-5” and 240 pounds, projection isn’t needed — he is already there. Over 54.1 innings, he had 112 K/6 BB, allowing two runs on 20 hits. He threw a first-pitch strike to 132/194 batters and averaged 86.6 pitches-per-start. He should go in the top-three picks. Committed to TCU.
Brady Aiken, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS (CA)
When you’re projected to be the first prep player off the board, and maybe first player off the board, you know you had an impressive year. At 6’-4” and 200 pounds, Aiken wowed scouts all year with his added velocity and has touched 96 mph this year. He adds two potential plus off-speed offerings and he has excellent command of his stuff. He is getting the Clayton Kershaw comp and, although unfair for any player, you can see the comparisons. He is as polished as any prep pitcher in recent memory and he is only going to get better. Through 43.2 innings, he has 80 K/7 BB, allowing five runs on 19 hits. Committed to UCLA.
Bobby Bradley, 1B/OF, Harrison Central HS (MS)
Bradley hasn’t gotten a lot to swing at this season. When he has, however, he has taken advantage of it, displaying the huge power potential from his 6’-2”, 225 pound frame. Over 22 games, he has drawn 29 walks to eight strikeouts and has hit six home runs. He is hitting .340/.598/.880. He has a patient approach and his quick wrists allow him to wait on his pitch and drive it to all fields. He is attempting to play behind the plate this season but most feel he is likely a first baseman at the next level where the pressure will be on his bat. Not much physical projection left but has upside as a left-handed power hitter. Committed to LSU.
Isiah Gilliam, OF/1B, Parkview HS (GA)
Mac Marshall gets most of the attention from scouts when they visit Parkview games, but Gilliam grabs your attention on sight alone. At 6’-3” and 220 pounds, he is a man already and the junior has been ruled eligible for the 2014 MLB draft as he will have four years of high school under his belt by year’s end. A switch-hitter, he can rake equally from both sides of the plate but has a bit more power from the right side. He has good bat speed and can take bad pitches out to all fields with his power. He has a strong arm (93 mph from outfield) but most likely will end up at first base where he shows above-average defensive skills.
Foster Griffin, LHP, The First Academy (FL)
Foster is a 6’-5” southpaw with a three-pitch mix who can dial his fastball up to 95 mph. He adds a change-up and slider, both projecting to above-average offerings. He is polished on the mound and has good command of his stuff. Over 60 innings, he has 102 K/21 BB, allowing 13 runs on 32 hits. He should go in the top-40 picks. Committed to Ole Miss.
Scott Blewett, RHP, Baker HS (NY)
At 6’-6” and 220 pounds, Blewett has the size you want in a frontline starter. He also has the arm as his fastball can touch 95 mph. He adds a potential plus curveball with great looping action, as well as a change-up and a circle-curve (change) he has been working on. Through 26 innings, he has 50 K/8 BB and has allowed one run on 12 hits. With his size, stuff and smooth mechanics, there is a lot of projection left. Committed to St. Johns.
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