This is the first in a series of weekly articles focusing on prep players who are playing on a higher level and have seen their 2013 MLB draft stock rise because of it. Here are 10 players who have been very impressive in the early going:
Jonathan Denney, C, Yukon HS (OK)
The 6’-2”, 205-pound right-hander is already considered a likely top-15 pick in the 2013 MLB draft. The way he is mashing the ball to start the season, he may end up going a lot higher. Through his first eight games, he is 14-for-22 (.636) with four doubles, two triples, five home runs and has driven in 18 runs. They have pretty much stopped pitching to him as he has drawn 12 walks — eight of them intentional — for a slash line of .765/1.500/2.265. His immense power from the right side, along with defense to stick at the position, make him one of the more highly desired prospects in the draft.
Jonah Wesely, LHP, Tracy HS (CA)
Coming into this season, the 6’-2” southpaw had allowed just 27 hits over 96.2 innings, striking out 184 to 50 walks. Blessed with a plus curveball and a heater that can touch 96 mph, he has been toying with his peers since he stepped into high school. This year has been no different for one of the top lefties in a class deep on them. Over four starts, he is 2-1 with a 0.81 ERA and 44 K/8 BB over 26 innings, allowing 13 hits. In his most recent start on March 16 against East Union, he tossed seven shutout innings, striking out 15 to two walks, allowing three hits in the 4-1 win. His career 16.7 K/9 and .094 BAA show the kind of power and movement he has behind his pitches.
Tyler Danish, RHP/3B, Durant HS (FL)
One of the better two-way threats in the prep class, The 6’-1” right-hander has been outstanding as both a pitcher and hitter this season. Over 15 games, he is hitting .415 (17-for-41) with four home runs and 16 RBI. He has also drawn 11 walks to just three strikeouts for a .537 OBP and .756 SLG, and has swiped four bases. On the mound, he has been even better. Over six starts, he is 6-0 and has yet to allow an earned run over 35 innings. He has used his fastball that can touch 95 mph to strikeout 58 batters and has walked just eight while allowing 12 hits. He is a better prospect on the mound, however, his power and strong arm would also play well at the hot corner at the next level. A second- to third-round pick at season’s start, he is starting to turn heads and could go higher come June.
Kohl Stewart, RHP, Pius X HS (TX)
Considered by many to be the best prep arm in the 2013 MLB draft, the 6’-3” right-hander got a late start to the season on the mound due to soreness in his arm. While he waited to get on the bump again, he made use of his time by mashing the ball at the plate. Over 17 games, he is hitting .356 with four doubles, four home runs and has knocked in 17 runs. He made his season debut on the mound on March 8 and struck out two to one walk over two innings, working out of the bullpen. On March 14, he got the start and showed why he is considered a top-10 pick this year. Over four perfect innings, he struck out seven and not one ball left the infield as he flashed his 94 mph fastball to ease questions about the injury. He was on a 40-pitch limit and, as the season goes on, the reins should come off.
Dustin Driver, RHP, Wenatchee HS (WA)
It was only one game, but the 6’-3” right-hander gave scouts what they came for. Driver tossed five no-hit innings in his season debut last week, striking out 11 and flashing his plus fastball with late life that can touch the mid-90s. He was on a 70-pitch count but wanted to finish what he started. He spent the offseason working with a personal trainer for the first time and the results are already showing. His command is better, his delivery is more sound and so his overall composure on the mound. Should hear his name called on day one of the 2013 MLB draft.
Billy McKinney, OF, Plano West HS (TX)
The 6’-1” left-hander has one of the prettiest swings in the 2013 MLB draft. His quick, easy swing from the left side makes him one of the best pure hitters available and he has been displaying his abilities over his first 12 games of the season. He has gone 16-for-34 (.471) with five extra-base hits, 10 RBI, and he has drawn nine walks to three strikeouts for a .617 OBP and .706 SLG. He has also stolen five bases, showing above-average speed that will help him hold down a corner outfield spot, as well as be a threat on the base paths. He doesn’t stand out in any one area, but he is solid across-the-board and is more polished than most prep players in the 2013 MLB draft, making him one of the more safer picks at the high school level.
Chris Okey, C, Eustis HS (FL)
Okey, a 6’-2”, 190-pound right-hander and two-time gold medal winner for U18 Team USA, is a great defender at his position and has been showing the kind of offensive potential he brings, as well. Over 13 games, he is hitting .455 (15-for-33) with two doubles, a triple, two home runs, 16 RBI and has drawn 10 walks to three strikeouts for a .583 OBP and .783 SLG. He has also stolen seven bases, including five over his last four games. He is a borderline first-round pick who brings leadership, strong defense and the ability to hit for a high average with pop due to his excellent bat speed.
Akeem Bostick, RHP/OF, West Florence HS (SC)
At 6’-5”, the right-hander oozes talent all over the baseball field. On the mound, he has touched 94 mph this year and has showed a promising change-up. He has a lively arm and his long, loose delivery shows a lot of projection. He is 4-0 on the year with a 0.31 ERA and 41 K/8 BB over 22.1 innings. At the plate, he generates a lot of power and has a good approach at the plate. Over nine games, he is hitting .464 with four doubles, three triples, two home runs, 12 RBI and has drawn seven walks for a .571 OBP. A very good athlete who is still raw in some areas, he is a big name to watch as the 2013 MLB draft nears.Dominic Smith, OF, Serra HS (CA)
One of the best hitters in the draft, Smith has shown the kind of offensive potential he has this year. Over eight games, he is hitting .565 with three doubles, three home runs, 16 RBI and has drawn six walks to just two strikeouts for a .667 OBP and 1.043 SLG. Coming into this year, the 6’-1” left-hander was hitting .568 over 77 games with 14 home runs, 126 RBI, 29 stolen bases and had struck out just 13 times. His arm has been clocked at 94 mph on the mound and he has 16 strikeouts over eight innings this year as a pitcher. Considered a top-20 pick by most, he could go higher if scouts believe he can hold down a corner outfield spot at the next level.
Christian Arroyo, INF, Hernando HS (FL)
Arroyo, the MVP of gold medal winning U18 Team USA at the 2012 World Championships, has been shooting up 2013 MLB draft boards because of his all-around play this season. Over 10 games, he is hitting .514 (18-for-35) with three doubles, a triple, three home runs, 10 RBI and has stolen five bases. He has also drawn six walks for a .605 OBP and .914 SLG. A highly intelligent player who can play almost everywhere in the infield, his progress as a hitter have him rising up draft boards.
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