The 2013 MLB draft is still more than eight months away. But with the regular season coming to an end, and the draft order shaping up, it’s a good time for fans of teams not making the playoffs to start catching up on potential draft picks by your team. Here are 20 high school players to keep an eye on over the course of the next year:
Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson HS (GA)
At 6’-4” and 200 pounds, the left-handed hitting Meadows is arguably the top prep player in the country. He has great bat speed which allows him to generate a ton of power from the left side and also makes consistent contact that projects to a high-average hitter. He has plus speed, a plus arm and should be able to stick at center field. As a member of U16 Team USA, he was named MVP of the 2011 IBAF Youth Championships by hitting .537 (22-for-41) over eight games with nine extra-base hits, six stolen bases and set a Team USA record by knocking in a ridiculous 28 runs as Team USA won the gold in Mexico. He is one of the youngest players in the draft (he won’t turn 18 until May 3) and he has one of the highest ceilings.
Clint Frazier, OF, Loganville HS (GA)
Whoever wins Player of the Year honors in the state of Georgia could very well be the National Gatorade Player of the Year, as well. Like Meadows, Frazier is one of the top players in the country and has seen his stock skyrocket over the summer thanks in most part to his incredible bat speed. The 6’-1” 190-pound right-hander can stroke it to all fields and the power is still developing – which is a little scary. He runs a 6.4/60 and could stick at center field, although right field may be a better fit. As a junior, he hit .424 with 24 home runs and stole 14 bases over 118 at-bats.
Kohl Stewart, RHP, St. Pius X HS (TX)
Another player who saw his stock soar over the summer, Stewart is a 6’-3” right-hander whose fastball touches 97 mph to go along with an above average slider and change-up. He has a smooth and easy delivery, and once he starts using his legs more, could add even more velocity. He also happens to be one of the top quarterback prospects in the country and has a commitment to play at Texas A&M. Could be a tough sign come June but his talent on the mound might make teams over-slot his signing bonus to secure a kid with big time potential.
Justin Williams, OF, Terrebonne HS (LA)
Power is Williams’ game. The 6’-2”, 200-pound left-hander won both the Perfect Game Classic and Under Armour All-American Game home run derby’s over the summer, establishing himself as one of the top power prospects in the draft. He is a very good athlete with impressive bat speed but he is still raw in other areas. He reminds me a lot of the Rangers’ 2012 second-round draft pick, Nick Williams, who also has big time power from the left side but was considered raw as a prospect.
Jeremy Martinez, C, Mater Dei HS (CA)
In a class deep on prep catchers, Martinez stands out as the best due to his abilities on both sides of the plate, as well as his high understanding of the game and polish. As a member of U18 Team USA, he won back-to-back gold medals in 2011 and 2012 and is a regular in the top summer events. His strong arm and footwork will allow him to be a gold glove-caliber defender at the next level. Offensively, he has a batting stance reminiscent of Albert Pujols and his bat speed allows him to drive the ball to all fields with developing power. He has a very good approach at the plate, on the field and a high character to boot.
Trey Ball, LHP, New Castle Chrysler HS (IN)
Ball is a 6’-6” left-hander with a lot of project ability as both a pitcher and hitter. A great athlete, he can run his fastball up to 94 mph on the mound with an easy delivery. He also adds a slider and change-up, both sitting in the low 80s but is still inconsistent with both. He has above-average speed and, coupled with his strong arm, projects to a corner outfield spot.
Ian Clarkin, LHP, James Madison HS (CA)
One of the top southpaws in the draft, Clarkin is a 6’-2” power lefty who can zip his fastball up to the mid 90s. He also has a big, looping curveball that sits in the low-70s and he has a lot of deception in his delivery. Went 8-2 as a junior with a 0.62 ERA and 106 K/27 BB over 68 innings, allowing just 27 hits. A big-game pitcher who played in the 2012 Perfect Game All-American Classic, as well as the gold-medal winning U18 Team USA squad this summer.
Willie Abreu, OF, Mater HS (FL)
Another member of U18 Team USA, Abreu is a 6’-4”, 200-pound left-hander with quick wrists and an advanced feel at the plate. More of a line drive hitter right now, his size suggests a whole bunch more power will come as he matures. He was also a member of the U16 Team USA team that won the gold and hit .423 (11-for-26) over seven games. A strong arm and a strong bat make him a perfect fit for right field and a strong senior season could see him land in the first round. Plays for the same school as Albert Almora, the sixth-overall pick by the Cubs in the 2012 draft, and like Almora, has a very high understanding of the game, as well as a high character.
Andy McGuire, IF/OF, James Madison HS (VA)
One of the best pure hitters in the draft, McGuire uses his bat speed and great hitting mechanics to spray the ball to all fields. He adds a great arm and above-average speed and could play second base, third or a corner outfield spot at the next level. At 6’-2 and 190-pounds, the right-hander has the frame to add more power as he matures. Went 4-for-4 and reached base all eight times at the 2011 Perfect Game Junior National Showcase, winning MVP honors, and was also a member of 2012 U18 Team USA.
Ryan Boldt, OF, Red Wing HS (MN)
Boldt showed off his plus speed playing for U18 Team USA over the summer as he was a perfect 12-for-12 in stolen base attempts over nine games. He also drew seven walks and scored 11 runs. The 6’-1” left-hander has a smooth, compact swing and could add more power as he matures. His speed and glove should allow him to stick at center field and he projects to a top-of-the-order hitter who will wreak havoc on the base paths once he gets on.
Keegan Thompson, RHP, Cullman HS (AL)
The 6’-3”, 185-pound right-hander had a dominant junior season going 7-2 with a 0.94 ERA and 119 K/5 BB over 67.1 innings. Features a mid-90s fastball, plus curve, a developing change-up and superb command of all three. Was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Alabama as a sophomore and also starred for 2011 U16 Team USA, going 2-0 with 18 strikeouts and only six hits allowed over 14 innings, including tossing a complete game shutout against Cuba in the gold medal game, striking out 12 while also going 4-for-5 at the plate with two RBI. Had seven strikeouts over six innings, allowing one run for 2012 U18 Team USA.
Clinton Hollon, RHP, Woodford County HS (KY)
Hollon was considered the top prep pitcher in the country until he went down with tendonitis in the flexor tendon in his forearm/elbow. At this point, we aren’t sure how serious it is so we will have to wait and see. When healthy, the 6’-1” and 185-pound right-hander has four quality pitches and commands all of them well. His fastball has touched 97 mph but sits more comfortable in the 92-94 mph range, and both his curveball and change-up project to plus. He has great mound presence and a great feel for pitching, but we will have to see how his progress goes.
Jonah Wesely, LHP, Tracy HS (CA)
Wesely is a power lefty who uses his strong lower half to get his fastball up to the mid 90s. He also has the makings of a plus curve that sits in the mid 70s. His change-up is developing and he has command of all three. At 6’-2 and 225-pounds, he has the size to be a workhorse at the next level. Over 37 innings as a junior, he only allowed six hits, while striking out 79 batters to just 13 walks. He tossed two no-hitters and struck out 17 over seven innings against Bear Creek on May 3, allowing two hits on no walks. He has a lot of projection with a lot of room still to grow. He had 105 strikeouts over 59.2 innings as a sophomore, allowing just 21 hits.
Arden Pabst, C, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
Playing for one of the top powerhouses in the country, Pabst was the man behind the plate for 2012 first-round picks, Max Fried and Lucas Giolito. Defensively, he should be able to stick at his current position due to a strong arm and great footwork. At 6’-1” and 200 pounds, he also makes for a big target. He hit .375 over 30 games as a junior with 14 extra-base hits, 35 RBI and a .458 OBP. He has a good approach at the plate and more power will come as he matures. High character and a high understanding of the game.
Oscar Mercado, SS, Gaither HS (FL)
More defense than offense, Mercado is a great defender in a class weak on up-the-middle talent. He does have good bat speed and should be a high-average hitter, just not much pop in his bat. As a junior, he hit .370 over 29 games with eight extra-base hits, 29 RBI and was 11-for-11 in stolen bases. With teams putting an emphasis on catchers, shortstops and center fielders in recent drafts, Mercado is the top shortstop in his class and should be a high draft pick come June.
Chris Oakley, RHP, St. Augustine Prep (NJ)
At 6’-8” and 230 pounds, Oakley has a lot of projection as a front line starter. He has an easy delivery and can get his fastball up to 94 mph. He adds a mid 70s curveball that has plus potential and also mixes in a developing split-finger fastball. Like Kohl Stewart, once he starts using his legs more, he should add more velocity.
Reese McGuire, C, Kentwood HS (WA)
McGuire put on a show in Seoul over the summer in helping U18 Team USA to it’s gold medal. Over nine games, he hit .462 (12-for-26) with four doubles, 11 RBI, eight walks and a .583 OBP. He is a left-handed hitting catcher who is aggressive at the plate and uses good bat speed to make consistent contact. Hit .388 his junior season with four home runs, 34 RBI and a .675 SLG.
Chris Okey, C, Eustis HS, (FL)
Like Martinez, Okey won back-to-back gold medals for U18 Team USA and is also a very polished player with a high understanding of the game. He hit .333 (9-for-27) over nine games in Seoul with three doubles and four RBI. The 6’-0” 185 pound catcher is a great athlete whose strong arm, quick release and footwork will allow him to stick at his position at the next level. Offensively, he generates extremely quick bat speed from his strong wrists and projects to a high-average hitter with pop. He hit .386 his junior year with three home runs, 21 RBI and just four strikeouts over 57 at-bats. As a sophomore, he hit .519 with seven doubles, three home runs and 25 RBI.
Brett Morales, RHP, King HS (FL)
Made a name for himself over the summer by being one of the best pitchers at some of the biggest events. His fastball can reach 94 mph with good sink to it and he has one of the best change-ups among prep players, sitting in the upper 70s with late fade and deception. He adds a developing 12-6 mid 70s curveball and knows how to mix his pitches well. His mechanics need a little work as he tends to throw across his body a little much.
Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS, (CA)
Yet another star for U18 Team USA, the 6’-5” left-hander went 2-0 in Seoul with 12 strikeouts, four walks and a 0.88 ERA over 16 innings. He has a sinking fastball that can touch 94 mph and also adds a mid 70s curveball that is still developing. As a junior, he had a 1.91 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 79 K/20 BB over 66 innings. He led his team to a second straight state title last season by tossing a three-hitter with eight strikeouts in the championship game. High ceiling with a lot of projection due to his frame.