With the Chicago Cubs selecting a lot of college pitchers in the first 10 rounds of the 2013 MLB draft, it appears they could have a good amount of their bonus-pool money left over. They have a chance to throw some money at players who are considered tough signs, and thought to be honoring their college commitments, in hopes of prying them away and joining the organization. Here are 30 players to keep an eye on for the final 30 rounds of the draft.
Connor Jones, RHP, Great Bridge HS (VA)
Jones, a 6’-3” athletic right-hander, has gone on record as saying he will honor his commitment to the University of Virginia. That is a major reason why he is still on the board as he was considered first-round material by most. It would be a risky pick because of the signability issue, but the reward could be great. He features a plus fastball that sits in the low-90s with heavy sinking action to go along with a slider that looks plus at times. His change-up is still developing, but he has a lot of upside due to his size, athleticism and loose arm.
Kyle Serrano, RHP, Farragut HS (TN)
Like Jones, Serrano is now considered a tough sign as his dad tweeted last night he will be attending the University of Tennessee where his dad also happens to be the head coach. While he doesn’t have the size of Jones (6’-1”, 190 pounds), his stuff is better. His fastball sits in the low-90s with late life, his change-up is already flashing plus and his curveball is headed in the same direction. He has great mound presence and there is still room in the tank for more.
Garrett Williams, LHP, Cavalry Baptist HS
A former Little League World Series hero, the 6’-2”, 195-pound southpaw has a commitment to Oklahoma State and could be a tough sign at this point. He features a plus curveball and a low-90s fastball to go along with a developing change-up that should be a solid offering down the road. A very good athlete with a loose, clean delivery, he is also an alumni of Team USA Baseball.
Jake Brentz, LHP, Parkway South HS (MO)
The 6’-2” southpaw made news after he was hitting 96 mph on the radar gun with his fastball at the Perfect Game World Championships. He doesn’t maintain velocity deep into games, however, and his secondary offerings are still developing. He is raw, but with added arm strength and work on his secondary stuff, he has a ton of upside.
Cal Quantrill, RHP, Trinity College School (ON)
A very polished pitcher, whose father Paul Quantrill is a former major-league pitcher, Cal is a 6’-3” right-hander with a lot of projection. His fastball sits in the low-90s and his change-up flashes plus potential. A bulldog on the mound, he also is very athletic, which bodes well for his projection. He does have Stanford attached to his name, however, making him a very tough sign.
Brett Morales, RHP, King HS (FL)
At 6’-2” and 215 pounds, Morales has the size you want in a starter. He features a low-90s fastball with some movement and his curveball projects to a plus pitch. His change-up has nice sink and also could be an above-average pitch down the road. Over 85 innings this season, he had 127 K/21 BB. He has a commitment to Florida, so he could be a tough sign at this point, but the upside is very good.
Keegan Thompson, RHP, Cullman HS (AL)
A two-time Gatorade Player of the year in the state of Alabama, the 6’-3” right-hander is a very polished pitcher who is an alumni of Team USA Baseball and seems to play his best on the highest of stages. He has a plus curveball and a fastball that sits 88-92 mph. Some feel if he can clean up his mechanics he may be able to add velocity. Over 73 innings this season, he had 124 K/8 BB, allowing just 48 hits. His commitment to Auburn is strong so it will take a lot to pry him away.
Jonah Wesely, LHP, Tracy HS (CA)
One of my personal favorites, the 6’-2” southpaw has overpowered his peers throughout his high school career thanks to a plus fastball that sits in the low/mid-90s and a plus, knee-buckling curveball. His change-up is still developing but you would be hard pressed to find a harder worker. His legs are like tree trunks, and he has the size to be a durable workhorse at the next level. Over 64 innings this season, he had 110 K/25 BB, allowing just 38 hits.
Chandler Eden, RHP, Yuba City HS (CA)
An Oregon State commit, the 6’-1”, 160-pound right-hander doesn’t have the upside as some others do on this list, but he does have great mechanics and throws his fastball in the low-90s with room for more as he fills out. His curveball shows plus potential ,and he is one of the youngest players in the 2013 MLB draft.
Denton Keys, LHP, Rye HS (CO)
I have been thoroughly intrigued by Keys all season. The 6’-4” southpaw put up some of the most eye-popping numbers you will ever see at the prep level. Over 45.2 innings, he allowed one run on just 12 hits while striking out an insane 115 batters to just nine walks for a 22.7 K/9 ratio. The competition is clearly weak, but the kid can obviously pitch. His fastball sits in the 88-91 mph range and his secondary stuff needs work. Being a lefty with his size, however, makes him a very intriguing project. Committed to Kansas.
Jesse Roth, RHP, Horace Mann HS (NJ)
A 6’-3” 200-pound right-hander whose fastball has touched 96 mph this season, Roth has projection due to his size, power arm and easy delivery. Playing in the Northeast, he didn’t get a lot of chances to show what he can do early on as the weather was brutal. A smart player with good control of his pitches, he is one of my sleepers in the 2013 MLB draft.
Trevor Clifton, RHP, Heritage HS (TN)
A Kentucky commit, the 6’-4”, 185-pound right-hander has a fastball that sits in the low/mid-90s and his curveball looks like a potential plus offering with more work. Another alumni of Team USA Baseball, many feel he could benefit greatly with pro instruction to work on his mechanics.
Thomas Hatch, RHP, Jenks HS (OK)
Not as projectable as others on this list, the 6’-2”, 205-pound right-hander can dial his fastball up to 95 mph already and it has nice sink to it. His secondary stuff is still developing, but he has a great feel for the mound. A commitment to Oklahoma State makes him another tough sign.
Chris Okey, Eustis HS (FL)
A very good defensive catcher with a strong arm and excellent footwork behind the plate, Okey is a polished player who is a two-time gold medal winner for U18 Team USA. At 6’-1” and 190 pounds, he makes consistent contact from the right side and has a very good approach at the plate. Over 29 games this season, he hit .417 with six doubles, four home runs, 29 RBI and drew 17 walks to eight strikeouts for a .528 OBP/.679 SLG. He is also an excellent athlete with good speed, having gone a perfect 16-for-16 in stolen base attempts this season. Committed to Clemson and has gone on record as saying he will commit.
John Riley, Willow Glen HS (CA)
Relatively new to catching, the 6’-2”, 210-pound right-hander has the size, along with the athleticism to be a good one. Offensively, he has very good bat speed and raw power. He is a bit of a project but has more upside than many other catchers available. Also has a very good make-up. Committed to California.
Matthew Thaiss, Jackson Memorial HS (NJ)
A left-handed hitter, the 6’-1”, 190-pound Thaiss has some power behind his swing, and he also has a good approach at the plate. Over 28 games as a junior, he hit seven home runs and drew 23 walks for a .481 OBP. He makes consistent contact and should develop even more power as he develops. Defensively, he has a strong, accurate arm with a quick release (1.87-1.91 pop times). He took on catching full time as a junior and threw out 11 base runners on throws that were barely four feet off the ground. He is a good athlete and a leader on the field. Committed to Virginia.
Jeremy Martinez, Mater Dei HS (CA)
Like Okey, Martinez is an extremely polished player who is a two-time gold medal winner as a member of U18 Team USA Baseball. There are questions about weather he will stick behind the plate and, if he can’t, there doesn’t seem to be a position for him. He hasn’t shown much power at the plate but does make consistent contact and has an advanced approach. He is a very smart player with a high baseball IQ. Committed to USC.
Arden Pabst, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
A strong defensive catcher who has had a ton of experience catching power arms. A teammate of 2012 first-round picks Max Fried and Lucas Giolito, as well as 2014 possible first-rounder Jake Flaherty, Pabst is emerging as one of the better offensive players at his position. Over his first 21 games, he hit .419 with eight doubles, four home runs and 21 RBI for one of the top programs in the country. He fits the mold as a true leader and is very aggressive in all areas of the game. He also has the distinction of being the only player to have hit a home run against 10th overall pick Phil Bickford this season.
Francis Christie, Casa Grande HS (CA)
Another left-handed hitting catcher, the 6’-1”, 215-pound Christy shows a lot of potential with the bat with good power. He hit .421/.505/.763 as a junior and has played in many big summer events and tournaments. He has a canon arm, very good footwork behind the plate and looks like he can remain at his current position. Committed to Oregon.
Gavin Collins, El Toro HS (CA)
A polished hitter with a short, compact swing, the 6’-0”, 195-pound right-hander is also a very good athlete with above-average speed. His swing doesn’t have a lot of moving parts, which allows him to wait on his pitch and drive it to all fields. He hasn’t played much behind the plate this season due to an ankle injury, but his strong arm and athleticism project well there, although a move to third base could be in the future for him. Committed to Mississippi State.
Cavan Biggio, 2B, St. Thomas HS (TX)
The son of Craig Biggio, Cavan is a 6’-2”, 180-pound left-handed hitter considered one of the best hitters in the prep class. He has excellent bat speed and an advanced approach at the plate. He doesn’t have a lot of speed, but he should hit for decent power and has the defensive skills to remain at second base. A very high IQ having grown up around the game.
Andy McGuire, SS/3B, Madison HS (VA)
A Texas commit, the 6’-2” right-hander could be a tough sign at this point. He has above-average tools across the board and profiles well on the left side of the field where his range, instincts, arm and soft hands would play well. At the plate, he has a good approach and drives the ball to all fields with more power to come. A highly intelligent player with an outstanding work ethic, he has a lot of upside but would be a very tough sign at this point.
Ronnie Gideon, 3B, Hallsville HS (TX)
At 6’-3’ and 220 pounds, Gideon already has a major-league body. The right-hander generates a lot of raw power due to his above-average bat speed, and he has the arm to hold down the hot corner, although his lack of speed may force a move elsewhere. Committed to Texas A&M.
Stephen Wrenn, 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 center field, and his speed and instincts will play well there. He may need to retool his swing a bit, but he destroyed prep pitching this year to the tune of a .513/.649/.833 line.
J.B. Woodman, Edgewater HS (FL)
A 6’-2”, 190 pound left-hander, Woodman has plus speed and a great line drive stroke. He also has an advanced approach at the plate and projects to a top-of-the-order hitter with developing power. His strong arm, coupled with his speed, give him a real shot to stick at center field. A strong commitment to Mississippi State makes him a tough sign.
Cody Thomas, Heritage HS (TN)
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, he 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.
Corey Ray, 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. He was an absolute beast down the stretch, hitting .513 over his final 13 games with four doubles, five triples, three home runs, 19 RBI and 16 stolen bases.
Nick Buckner, 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 also stars on the mound. 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. Committed to Houston.
Nick Banks, 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 his first 20 games this season, he hit .550 with 14 extra-base hits and six stolen bases. He also drew 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 center field at the next level. He is committed to Texas A&M and tweeted last night he was going to honor his commitment.
Silento Sayles, Port Gibson HS (MS)
The 5’-9”, 185-pound speed demon stole an incredible 103 bases over 31 games this season, including 12 in one game. He was caught just once. He doesn’t offer a whole lot more but could develop better hitting mechanics under pro instruction. It’s worth a shot based on the speed potential alone.
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