In my last article, I addressed the Chicago Cubs need for more depth at the catching position with 10 possible options in the 2013 MLB draft. This time around, I take a look at 25 players I believe have high upsides and could be available when the team selects at 41, 77, 108 and beyond. All 25 players come from the prep ranks as anyone who still has a lot of upside in college will all but likely be taken in the first round. These are players who, if they decide to choose college instead of turning pro, could end up being high first-round picks in three years because of their outstanding talents and current projection.
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Phil Bickford, RHP, Oaks Christian HS (CA)
One of my personal favorites in the 2013 MLB draft, the 6’-4” right-hander most likely won’t be around when the Cubs pick at 41. He has been touching 97 mph and sitting 91-94 mph with more room for velocity as he matures and tweaks his delivery. He adds solid breaking stuff and his offspeed stuff is still developing, as is the case with most prep pitchers. Over his last three starts, he has allowed one run on four hits over 21 innings, striking out 39 to five walks. If he is available at 41, he would be a huge steal in my opinion.
Casey Shane, RHP, Centennial HS (TX)
At 6’-4” and 200 pounds, Shane has the size and stuff to be an ace at the next level. He features a filthy, sinking fastball that sits in the low 90s and adds a low-80s change-up and mid-80s curveball that both project to be at least above-average. He had back-to-back 17-strikeout outings on March 28 and April 5, the latter being a no-hitter. He has excellent control of his pitches and great poise on the mound. Over 39.1 innings this season, he has 77 K/8 BB, allowing just 20 hits. If he is somehow still on the board when the Cubs pick at 41 in the 2013 MLB draft, he would be a great addition to the organization. Committed to Texas A&M.
Matt McPhearson, OF, Riverdale Baptist HS (MD)
The 6’-0” left-hander has plus/plus speed and should develop at least gap power with a chance for more. He has very good bat speed and an advanced approach at the plate. Over 17 games this season, he has stolen 20 bases while battling a nagging hamstring injury. He has also posted a .603 OBP, drawing 14 walks to six strikeouts. His speed is his best asset, however, and he has the defensive skill set to remain in centerfield and be a table-setter on offense. If he is available when the Cubs pick at 41, he could be a nice sign as the Cubs don’t have much depth at leadoff-type burners in their system. Committed to Miami.
Terry McClure, OF, Riverwood HS (GA)
A dynamic athlete, the 6’-2” right-hander should be able to stick at centerfield due to his quickness and instincts. At the plate, he has excellent bat speed and an advanced approach at the plate. He also generates a lot of power from the right side with room for more as he matures. Over 27 games this season, he has hit .400 with eight doubles, eight home runs, and has drawn 19 walks for a .534 OBP/.800 SLG. He has also added 11 stolen bases, showing above-average speed. Could be available at 41 and could be a great selection even though the Cubs have several top outfield prospects including Jorge Soler and Albert Almora in their system already.
Garrett Williams, LHP, Cavalry Baptist HS
In 2007, Williams led his Lubbock team to the consolation game of the Little League World Series where he hit his pitch limit with one out to go in the game. Up to that point, he had tossed 5.2 no-hit innings, striking out 14 batters. Flash forward six years and the 6’-3” southpaw is still dominating opposing hitters. In his last start, he struck out 15 over seven shutout innings and now has 89 K/26 BB over 41.2 innings, allowing just 13 hits. A great athlete and hitter, he features a low-90s fastball with late life and a plus curveball. A polished pitcher who also starred for U18 Team USA baseball, he would be a great selection if he was still available at pick 41. Committed to Oklahoma State.
Hunter Green, LHP, Warren East HS (KY)
At 6’-4” and 170 pounds, Green has reportedly touch 95 mph this season and will add more velocity once he matures. He adds a deceptive change-up and a power curveball with nice depth. He locates his pitches well and has a good feel for his pitches. He has 28 strikeouts over his 12 innings and now has 89 K/26 BB over 41.2 innings, allowing one run on just 13 hits. A ton of upside who could be a major steal if he is available at 41.
Carlos Salazar, RHP, Kerman HS (CA)
Salazar has been climbing draft boards all spring, and there is a great chance he won’t be available when the Cubs pick at 41. His fastball has touched 97 mph and sits in the 91-93 range with late life and movement. He also features a solid, low-80s change-up while his breaking stuff is still developing. At 6’-3” and 210 pounds, he has the frame to add more velocity. Over 55 innings this season, he has yet to allow an earned run and has struck out 104 to 21 walks, allowing just 15 hits. He has worked hard on his control over the past year, cutting his BB/9 ratio down from 6.4 to 3.4 this year. Committed to Fresno State.
Dustin Driver, RHP, Wenatchee HS (WA)
One of the better power arms among prep players in the 2013 MLB draft, the 6’-2”, 200-pound right-hander may still be available when the Cubs pick at 41. If he is available, he has frontline stuff headlined by a low/mid-90s fastball that maintains velocity deep into games with good sink. He also adds an above-average change-up and a developing curveball. His delivery is clean and easy and he is very aggressive on the mound, attacking hitters inside and out. Committed to UCLA.
Josh Hart, OF, Parkview HS (GA)
Like many players on this list, Hart is a speedy outfielder with a nice stroke from the left side. A great athlete, he has been clocked at 6.49 in the 60. He has some of the best bat speed in the 2013 MLB draft which allows him to catch up to any pitch and drive it to all fields. Over 26 games this season, he is hitting .450 with five triples, three home runs, 20 RBI and has stolen 19 bases. He has drawn nine walks for a .536 OBP/.738 SLG playing for one of the top programs in the country. At 6’-2” and 190 pounds, he should hit for more power as he matures but may end up at a corner outfield spot if he fills out. Should be available at 41. Committed to Georgia Tech.
Cody Thomas, OF, Heritage HS (TX)
Let me preface this one by saying the Cubs would most likely have to make a pretty sweet offer to the 6’-5”, 220-pound left-handed hitter with tremendous raw power. He has a commitment to play quarterback at Oklahoma and, with his size, rocket arm and athletic abilities, could be a great one. He passed for 4,221 yards and 46 touchdowns over 12 games his senior year and was also the team’s punter. On the diamond, he shows a lot of upside as he also has a good approach at the plate to go along with the massive power potential. Over 32 games this season for powerhouse Heritage, he has hit .485 with 12 doubles, 13 home runs, 45 RBI and has drawn 20 walks for a .579 OBP/1.061 SLG. He also has added 12 stolen bases, showing good speed for his size.
Austin Nicely, LHP, Spotswood HS (VA)
A 6’-2” southpaw with a lot of projection left, Nicely has an easy, fluid delivery and features a low-90s fastball with movement. He has excellent command of his pitches and has great mound presence. Over 17 innings this season, he has 30 K/4 BB and has gotten better as the season goes on and the weather gets warmer. Over his last three appearances, he has tossed 12 shutout innings, striking out 20 to just one walk. A great make-up and a kid who just knows how to pitch. Committed to Virginia.
Ivan Wilson, OF, Ruston HS (LA)
A 6’-3”, 220 pound right-hander with above-average speed (6.6/60) and raw power, Wilson uses his quick, strong wrists to drive the ball to all fields and has shown a good approach at the plate this season. Over his last 10 games, he is hitting .424 with four doubles, four home runs, 15 RBI and has drawn six walks for a .548 OBP/1.030 SLG. His speed and strong arm would play well in a corner outfield spot and his bat would justify it. He may not be around at 77, but if he is, the Cubs should take a serious look.
Dane McFarland, OF, JSerra HS (CA)
The season didn’t turn out as expected for the 6’-4” right-hander, He broke his hand in a winter game, missed almost half of the season and saw his team go 10-13. He hit .281 over 12 games with a .425 OBP and stole five bases but didn’t record an extra-base hit as his power was limited recovering from the injury. When healthy, he is a quick-twitch athlete with excellent bat speed and raw power. He also is an above-average runner, timed at 6.5 in the 60. Without scouts getting a good look at him this year, he could slip in the 2013 MLB draft and be a great value pick in the third round. If he is still there when the Cubs pick at 77, he could be a nice pick up. Committed to Oregon.
Thomas Milone, OF, Masuk HS (CT)
Like Cody Thomas, Milone is a two-sport star and is committed to play both baseball and football for UConn. Not the elite prospect Thomas is in football, he may not be as difficult to sign as baseball seems to be his future. The 6’-1”, 185 pound left-hander is a plus runner (4.3/40) and has a strong enough arm to remain at centerfield where his glove plays well. Offensively, he is still considered raw at the plate but has shown a good approach this year drawing 10 walks to just two strikeouts over 12 games for a .553 OBP. He has also gone 13-for-13 in stolen base attempts, showing great instincts on the base paths to go with the speed. He doesn’t hit for much power now, but projects to at least decent power as he matures. Playing in the Northeast, he hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to showcase himself to scouts, but he has been getting a lot of attention lately and his stock is rising. He has an outside chance of being available when the Cubs pick at 77. Committed to Connecticut.
Robert Tyler, RHP, Crisp County HS (GA)
The 6’-4” right-hander is another loose arm that can dial his fastball up to 93 mph with room for more as he matures and improves his delivery. He adds a hard curveball with nice depth and a developing change-up with a nice feel. He has 44 K/12 BB over 38.1 innings this season. He is viewed as a late-second/early-third-round kid but could go a lot higher with his size and potential. Committed to Georgia.
Nick Buckner, OF, North Shore HS (TX)
A toolsy outfielder with good power from the left side, the 6’-1”, 200-pound Buckner is a great athlete who has been clocked at 6.7 in the 60. He has a very strong arm and has struck out 50 batters over 29 innings as a starter for North Shore. At the plate, he is hitting .347 over 25 games with eight home runs, 10 stolen bases and has drawn 22 walks for a .510 OBP/.787 SLG. He has a solid approach at the plate although his swing can lead to a lot of swing-and-miss. Good speed, defense and power from the left side make him a very intriguing prospect and he could be available at 77. Committed to Houston.
Riley Unroe, SS, Desert Ridge HS (AZ)
With the defensive abilities to stick at shortstop, including plus speed (6.4/60) and a strong arm (91 mph), the 6’-1” switch-hitter is seeing his stock soar. His bat, however, remains his best tool. Over 31 games for one of the best programs in the country, he is hitting .565 with 14 doubles, five triples, 10 home runs and has driven in 59 runs. He has drawn 17 walks to just four strikeouts for a .642 OBP/1.152 SLG. He has also added 25 stolen bases. His father, Tim Unroe, spent five years in the majors with three different teams. Riley is an impressive talent who could be available at 77. Committed to USC.
Jan Hernandez, 3B, Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy (PR)
At 6’-3” and 195 pounds, the right-hander possesses great bat speed and raw power. Playing for the same school as 2012 first-overall pick Carlos Correa, he is well known in the scouting community. His strong arm, soft hands and range could make him a great defender at the hot corner and his bat should justify the position. His size alone makes him an intriguing prospect in the 2013 MLB draft.
Akeem Bostick, RHP, West Florence HS (SC)
The 6’-5” right-hander has turned a lot of heads this season with an easy delivery and a fastball that has touched 95 mph. He also adds solid secondary stuff and has great body control despite his size. Over 56 innings this season, he has 96 K/25 BB and has allowed just 23 hits. He has had six double-digit strikeout games with a career-high 13 over seven shutout innings on March 5. His command is a little inconsistent but with his size, and more left in the tank as far as velocity goes, he has a lot of upside. Should be available at 77.
Nick Banks, OF, Tomball HS (TX)
A great athlete, as well as vocal leader, the 6’-2”, 200-pound left-hander has a sweet swing and an advanced approach at the plate. Over 20 games this season, he is hitting .550 with 14 extra-base hits and six stolen bases. He has drawn nine walks to just five strikeouts for a .620 OBP/.950 SLG. More of a line drive hitter, he does have some pop in his bat and could develop more. He has been clocked at 6.85 in the 60, and his arm has been clocked at 90 mph from the outfield, showing the ability to remain at centerfield at the next level. He is considered a second/third-round type of player and is committed to Texas A&M.
Corey Ray, OF, Simeon HS (IL)
Playing in the same backyard as the Cubs, Ray is a 5’-11”, 190-pound left-hander who is a quick-twitch athlete with very good speed, as well as excellent bat speed. His short, compact swing allows him to make consistent contact and drive the ball to all fields and more power should come as he matures. He has a strong arm, and both his speed and instincts allow him to play all three outfield spots. The weather was brutal for baseball players in Chicago this spring creating many rain outs and cold-weather games. In 15 recorded games, he has hit .381 with nine extra-base hits, nine stolen bases and has drawn 13 walks for a .536 OBP/.643 SLG. He could be available when the Cubs pick at 108. Committed to Louisville.
Casey Meisner, RHP, Cy-Woods HS (TX)
At 6’-7” and 190 pounds, there is obviously a lot of room for projection. Meisner can hit 91 mph with his fastball and, despite his size, has good control of his body on the mound with a nice, easy delivery. He features an average, mid-70s curveball and developing change-up but needs to be more consistent with his command of both. He tossed a five-inning no-hitter in his season debut, striking out 13 to two walks, and for the season, he has 85 K/12 BB over 53 innings, allowing 32 hits. He is raw in areas, but the upside is high for a third-fourth round pick in the 2013 MLB draft. Committed to Texas Tech.
Stephen Wrenn, OF, Walton HS (GA)
The 6’-2”, 190-pound right-hander has plus speed (6.4/60) and an advanced approach at the plate. He has a strong enough arm (85 mph) to hold down centerfield, and his speed and instincts will play well there. He may need to retool his swing a bit but has been destroying prep pitching this year to the tune of a .513/.649/.833 line. Over 27 games, he has 19 extra-base hits, 25 walks and has swiped 25 bases. A very toolsy player who is committed to Georgia.
Derik Beauprez, RHP, Cherry Creek HS (CO)
Like Bostick, the 6’-5” Beauprez can hit the mid-90s with his fastball and has a lot of projection due to his size and live, loose arm. He also features solid secondary stuff including a tight curveball. He hasn’t pitched a lot this year, so he is still raw in some areas, but he has a fresh arm and a high ceiling. He is also an excellent hitter and could be drafted as a power-hitting corner outfielder, as well. Should be available at 77. Committed to Miami.
Preston Palmeiro, 3B/OF, Heritage HS (TX)
The son of the Cubs 1985 first-round pick (22nd overall), and 3,000-hit member, Rafael Palmeiro, Preston is a 6’-1”, 195-pound left-hander just like his pops. He also is a teammate of Cody Thomas. He makes great contact like his dad, and he also has a great approach at the plate. Over 33 games this season, he is hitting .385 with 12 extra-base hits and has drawn 26 walks for a .524 OBP/.594 SLG. An average runner, he relies more on his athleticism and instincts to steal bases and defend his position. He has a strong enough arm to remain at third but will probably end up in a corner outfield position. His bat is his best asset and he also has the bloodlines thing going for him. Could be a nice mid-round selection.
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