By now, most people following the 2013 MLB draft have a pretty good understanding of who the first-round talent is. Most of the mock drafts around the web, including mine, only cover the first round or the top 50 picks. But if you look at past drafts, a ton of talent has been found in later rounds. Baseball is the toughest sport to scout, and great talent often slips through the cracks. This is the second in a series of articles highlighting players who may not be considered first-round talent today but could either play their way into the first round or make teams regret passing on them early. Today we focus on some high school players.
Josh Hart, OF, Parkview HS (GA)
As usual, there is a ton of talent in the state of Georgia. While Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows will grab most of the headlines this year, Hart will be heard from, especially considering he plays for the defending national champs, as awarded by Baseball America. The 6’-2”, 180-pound left-hander bulked up a little this year and will be hitting in the three-spot , although he is most likely a leadoff-type hitter at the next level and has said he will keep the same approach as a leadoff hitter, hitting the gaps and using his speed. He has some of the best bat speed in the draft and enough wheels to hold down center field, as well as be a threat on the base paths. He takes walks and has a good feel for the strike zone. Committed to Georgia Tech.
John Sternagel, 3B/SS, Rockledge HS (FL)
A fixture on many of the top summer/fall events and tournaments, Sternagel is a kid who has a very high understanding of the game, as well as the tools to back it up. At 6’-2” and 195 pounds, more power will come. For now, he is more of a line-drive hitter who makes solid, consistent contact and can spray the ball to all fields. He doesn’t have great speed (timed at 7.00 in the 60), but has enough range to stick at third base, as well as the arm. He has great instincts in the field and people have compared him to Scott Rolen on defense. Committed to Florida.
Jesse Roth, RHP, Horace Mann HS (NJ)
“Projectability” is a term scouts love when it comes to high school pitchers. Roth, a 6’-3”, 190-pound right-hander out of New Jersey, has that tag attached to his name. He can touch 91 mph with his fastball, and it has nice sink to it. His change-up is his second-best pitch, sitting in the 78-82 mph range with nice fade. He is still developing his curveball, but it looks to be a solid 11-5 pitch. His size suggests more velocity will come as he matures. He has an easy delivery and a great feel for the mound. Committed to Virginia.
John Kilichowski, LHP, Jesuit HS (FL)
At 6’-5” and 200 pounds, the left-hander is an intimidating presence on the mound. As a junior, he went 4-0 with a 0.83 ERA, 0.74 WHIP and 47 K/13 BB over 33.2 innings, allowing just 12 hits. His fastball sits in the upper 80s with good sinking action, and his curveball is already an above-average pitch. His change-up shows good promise, and he has good command of all three. A high character kid who is committed to Vanderbilt.
Matt McPhearson, OF, Riverdale Baptist HS (MD)
Hitting left-handed and having blazing speed is a good recipe for longevity in baseball — just ask Juan Pierre and Scott Podsednik. McPhearson has been timed at 6.21 in the 60 and has an advanced approach at the plate. He hit .354 as a junior with 68 stolen bases in 72 attempts. He also drew 30 walks to just 12 strikeouts over 96 at-bats, good for a .512 OBP. He has an above-average arm and the elite speed will allow him to stick at center field. With the emphasis on speed and up-the-middle defense in recent drafts, he could very well end up in the first round come June. Committed to Miami.
Andrew Dunlap, RHP, Westbury HS (TX)
When you hit 96 mph and set an event record, your will get noticed. A converted catcher, Dunlap set the record at the Perfect Game Indoor Event a couple of weeks ago by topping out at 96 mph, while regularly sitting in the 92-94 range. He also features an upper-70s curveball with a ton of spin. At 5’-11” and 215 pounds, he seems destined to be a dominant closer at the next level. He also has the demeanor for the role.
Christian Arroyo, 3B/SS, Hernando HS (FL)
Arroyo was named the MVP for gold-medal winning U18 Team USA in Seoul, South Korea, last fall, although he was quick to share the award with his teammates, showing his high character. He hit .387 with 11 RBI and had just two errors in 67 chances as he played every inning at shortstop. As a junior for Hernando last year, he hit .305 with 10 extra-base hits and a .434 OBP. At 6’-1” and 185 pounds, the right-hander could develop more power as he matures. He has above-average bat speed and a very high understanding of the game. Solid across-the-board tools. Committed to Florida.
Dom Nunez, INF, Elk Grove HS (CA)
A very good hitter, Nunez’ lack of speed may force him from shortstop to catcher where his strong arm would play well. As a junior, he hit .429 with 19 extra-base hits, 29 RBI and a .551 OBP. His 18 walks to 13 strikeouts show a good approach at the plate, and he has the ability to drive the ball to all fields. A member of gold-medal winning U18 Team USA, he has played on the highest stages and has a high understanding of the game. Committed to UCLA.
Arden Pabst, C, Harvard-Westlake HS (CA)
Playing for powerhouse Harvard-Westlake, Pabst has played with some elite talent in Max Fried, Lucas Giolito and Stanford’s Austin Wilson. Defensively, he has all the tools to stick behind the plate. At 6’-1” and 200 pounds, he makes for a big target behind the plate and has a very strong arm. Plus, the fact he handled hard-throwers Giolito and Fried shows his abilities. Offensively, he has power to all fields and makes consistent contact. As a junior, he hit .375 with nine doubles, four home runs, 35 BI and a slash line of .45/.636/1.094. Committed to Georgia Tech.
Kevin Franklin, 3B/OF, Gahr HS (CA)At 6’-2” and 220 pounds, Franklin has some of the best raw power in the draft. Over 90 at-bats as a junior, he hit .400 with nine doubles, seven home runs, 27 RBI and had a slash line of .486/.756/1.242. He arm has been clocked at 92 mph, showing enough to hold down third base or a corner outfield spot. Still needs some refining to his overall game, but the power potential alone will attract many teams come June. Committed to Arizona State.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @DanMKirby for draft updates and prospect news.