This is the third in a series of prep players who have impressed in recent weeks, either improving their 2013 MLB draft stock because of it, or proving the preseason hype was real. These are in no particular order:
Phil Bickford, RHP, Oaks Christian HS (CA)
The 6’-4” 190-pound right-hander is rising fast on 2013 MLB draft charts thanks to his size and a fastball that can touch 97 mph and sits in the 91-94 mph range. He also features an upper -70s breaking ball and mid-80s change-up and has been displaying great control of all three pitches this season. Over his last five starts, he has allowed two runs on 14 hits over 32 innings while striking out 50 to just three walks. He struck out 16 to no walks over six innings on March 30 and tossed a no-hitter in his last outing on April 10, striking out 11 to two walks over seven innings. There is a lot of first-round buzz going on with Bickford.
Jeremy Martinez, C, Mater Dei HS (CA)
People are all over the place on where Martinez stands in the 2013 MLB draft. No one questions his makeup, leadership and defensive abilities, but some question his bat. After starting the season 3-for-17 (.177) over his first six games with no extra-base hits, the 6’-0” right-hander has been an on-base machine for the number-one ranked team in the country. Over his last 11 games, he is hitting .438 (14-for-32) with two doubles, 11 RBI and has drawn five walks. He also has been hit by a pitch four times over that span for a .561 OBP. Mater Dei’s schedule has been brutal, and Martinez has more than held his own against the best competition out there.
Denton Keys, LHP, Rye HS (CO)
When you have a 24.8 K/9 ratio, people are going to notice. The 6’-4” southpaw is making bats miss at a ridiculous rate this season as 44 of the 48 outs he has recorded have come via strikeout. He has tossed 16 shutout innings and has allowed just one hit. He obviously hasn’t faced the best competition as his team has outscored its opponents 114-6 over nine games, but you can’t do much better than Keys has done this season. His fastball was sitting 87-90 mph in Jupiter back in October, and he also adds a mid-70s curveball and change-up. With his size, the left-hander has projection.
Casey Shane, RHP, Centennial HS (TX)
The 6’-4”, 200-pound right-hander has 34 strikeouts over his last two starts. On March 28, he had 17 strikeouts and two walks over six shutout innings, allowing three hits. He was even better on April 5, throwing a no-hitter with 17 strikeouts to one walk over seven innings. He now has 50 K/6 BB over 22.1 innings (20.2 K/9). He features a nasty, sinking fastball that sits in the low 90s to go along with a mid-80s change-up and low-80s curveball that both project to above-average.
Clinton Hollon, RHP, Woodford County HS (KY)
Hollon has reestablished himself as one of the top prep arms in the 2013 MLB draft this season. While he may not be hitting 96 mph as he did as a junior, he has refined his secondary pitches and is a better overall pitcher now. His fastball sits 91-94 with late life and his curveball is filthy. He already has an above-average change-up, and his slider is still developing but looks like a legitimate offering. Over 20 innings this season, he has allowed just one run on seven hits with 25 strikeouts to five walks. At 6’-1”, he doesn’t have the ideal size for a front line starter, but his stuff, fluid delivery and mound presence makes up for it.
Carlos Salazar, RHP, Kerman HS (CA)
The 6’-3” right-hander has used his lively fastball that can touch 97 mph to simply overpower prep bats this season. Over 32.2 innings, he has yet to allow an earned run and has 63 strikeouts to 12 walks. He is holding opponents to a .088 batting average, as well. He has also worked hard on control issues that have plagues him in the past as he has cut his BB/9 down to 3.3 from 6.4 as a junior. His change-up is a solid pitch, sitting in the low 80s and his curveball still needs some refining. His delivery is smooth and the ball jumps out of his hand.
J.P. Crawford, SS, Lakewood HS (CA)
The best overall shortstop in the 2013 MLB draft has seen his bat heat up over the lat week. In his last four games, he has gone 9-for-14 with three doubles and two RBI. Over 20 games, he is now hitting .397 with 10 extra-base hits, eight stolen bases and a .486 OBP/.603 SLG. The 6’-1” right-hander has a great approach at the plate, excellent bat speed, above-average speed, a canon arm and a great feel for his position on defense.
Chris Kohler, LHP, Los Osos HS (CA)
The 6’-3” southpaw had some command issues to start the season, walking 13 batters over 17 innings in his first three starts. He has since turned it around, striking out 33 to just four walks over his last 19 innings. Still considered a little raw in terms of pitching, he features a big, looping mid-70s curveball and a sinking fastball that sits in the 88-91 mph range. With his size, he has the potential to add more velocity and has a lot of projection because of it.Reese McGuire, C, Kentwood HS (WA)
The 6’-1” left-handed hitting catcher continues to show a great bat to go along with the best defensive abilities at the position in the 2013 MLB draft. Over 13 games, he is 21-for-39 (.539) with eight doubles, four triples and has drawn 11 walks to just two strikeouts for a .654 OBP/.949 SLG. I can’t help but think of a left-handed hitting Buster Posey when I see him.
Akeem Bostick, RHP, West Florence HS (SC)
The 6’-4” right-hander has been clocked at 95 mph with his fastball this season, and his frame offers a lot of projectability. Over seven starts, he is 7-0 with a 0.37 ERA and 66 K/12 BB over 38 innings. His change-up is already an above-average pitch, sitting in the 78-82 mph range. He is still considered raw but he is a loose, live arm with a big upside.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @DanMKirby for 2013 MLB draft updates, prospect news and Chicago Cubs ramblings.