Too soon? Never. Especially when a lot of these players are about to hit the summer-circuit events and tournaments. Baseball is a year-long sport, and it is never too early to start looking at the next crop of superstars your team could land in next year’s draft. This isn’t necessarily a mock, but more of a big board of the best talent in the high school and college ranks. Obviously, team standings will change over the next couple of months, changing the draft order seen here. And some of these players could struggle while names not on this list will excel and see their stock rise. This is just to give you an idea of who to watch over the next year.
1. Chicago Cubs – Austin Meadows, OF, Grayson HS (GA)
Meadows is 6’-4”, 200 pounds and hits from the left side, has plus speed, raw power to all fields and a canon arm in center field. Because of all those traits, he gets compared to Josh Hamilton. He hit .390 this season with four home runs, 19 stolen bases and 28 RBI. A member of U16 Team USA, he showed the world what an unbelievable talent he is by hitting .537 (22-for-41) with five doubles, three triples, a home run, 28 RBI and six stolen bases over eight games at the IBAF Youth Championships. His 28 RBI are a Team USA record.
2. San Diego Padres – Clinton Hollon, RHP, Woodford County HS (KY)
Hollon is a 6’-1”, 185-pound right-hander who can dial his fastball up to 97 mph already, and the pitch sits comfortable in the 92-94 mph range. He also adds a curveball and slider that both project to plus and his change-up is still developing. He is an outstanding athlete, with an easy delivery and four quality pitches, who has a ton of upside.
3. Minnesota Twins – Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Cathedral Catholic HS (CA)
At 6’-5” and 185 pounds, Gonsalves is one of the best left-handers in his class. Over 66 innings this season, he had a 1.91 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 79 K/20 BB. He can reach 94 mph on his fastball and is a big-game pitcher, tossing a three-hitter with eight strikeouts in leading his team to a second straight state title this season.
4. Colorado Rockies – Jeremy Martinez, C, Mater Dei HS (CA)
Martinez is the most polished high school catcher in the draft. Defensively, he has all the tools to be a perennial gold-glove winner at the next level. At 5’-11” and 200 pounds, he is built like Ivan Rodriguez and has the footwork, arm and instincts to be just as good as the 13-time Gold Glove winner. Offensively, his batting stance is reminiscent of Albert Pujols. He hit .388 this season with 18 RBI and just eight strikeouts over 29 games. He was also a member of the gold-medal winning U18 Team USA squad this past fall, joining fellow 2013 draft prospect Chris Okey as the only underclassmen on the team.
5. Kansas City Royals – Ryne Stanek, RHP, Arkansas
Stanek missed being a draft-eligible sophomore in the 2012 draft by a week. In the end, it will most likely benefit him because another year at Arkansas as the Friday night starter should improve his stock even more. Over 16 starts this season, he went 7-4 with a 2.91 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 80 K/33 BB over 86.2 innings. The 6’-4”, 180-pound right-hander can get his fastball up to 97 mph, and both his curveball and change-up are quality pitches. He has great mound presence and a high understanding of the game.
6. Oakland Athletics – Karsten Whitson, RHP, Florida
Whitson was a first-round (ninth-overall) draft pick by the San Diego Padres in 2010 but chose to attend Florida instead. He hasn’t exactly dominated opponents over his first two years, but the potential is very high with him. At 6’-3” and 200 pounds, his fastball can reach the upper-90s with movement and he also adds a plus curveball and above-average change-up. Over 33.1 innings this season, he went 4-0 with a 3.51 ERA, 1.65 WHIP and 20 K/18 BB. A breakout junior season is expected, and if he does put together a monster year, he could be a top-three pick.
7. Houston Astros – Kris Bryant, 3B, San Diego
Bryant is one of the premiere college bats in the draft. Over 57 games this season, he hit .366 with 17 doubles, 14 home runs, 56 RBI, nine stolen bases and had 39 walks for a slash line of .483/.671/1.154. He has enough arm and range to stick at the hot corner, but his bat is what teams will be drooling over come draft day. The 6’-5”, 215-pound right-hander hit .365 with a .482 OBP and .600 SLG as a freshman in 2011.
8. Seattle Mariners – Oscar Mercado, SS, Gaither HS (FL)
Mercado is a defensive whiz at shortstop who also can handle the bat. He hit .370 over 29 games this season with eight extra-base hits, 29 RBI and was 11-for-11 in stolen bases. His glove, however, is what scouts really love, as his arm, range and instincts in the field make him arguably the best defender at his position in the entire draft.
9. Milwaukee Brewers – Bobby Wahl, RHP, Ole Miss
The 6’-3”, 210-pound, right-hander is a big, power pitcher who went 7-4 with a 2.55 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 104 K/32 BB over 99 innings this season. His fastball sits in the low-90s and his slider is a plus pitch that can be downright filthy at times. Another strong season, and a little work on his command, and he could be one of the first college pitchers taken off the board.
10. Detroit Tigers – Colin Moran, 3B, North Carolina
Moran is one of the better college bats in the draft. Over 41 games this season, he hit .365 with 11 doubles, three home runs, and 35 RBI. His 21 walks to just 24 strikeouts also show his great approach at the plate. The 6’-3”, 210-pound left-hander should hit for more power his junior season, and coupled with his strong arm, should be the first third baseman off the board.
11. Philadelphia Phillies – Keegan Thompson, RHP, Cullman HS, (AL)
After being named The Gatorade Player of the Year in Alabama as a sophomore, Thompson was even better his junior season. He went 7-2 with a 0.94 ERA and 119 K/5 BB over 67.1 innings, showing the ability to be a high-strikeout pitcher with excellent command of his stuff. He features a mid-90s fastball with late life, a plus curveball and a developing change-up. The 6’-3”, 180-pound right-hander is a big game pitcher who went 2-0 with U16 Team USA with 18 strikeouts and only six hits allowed over 14 innings. He also struck out 15 batters over seven innings in his final game this season in a must win situation for his team.
12. Boston Red Sox – Jonah Wesely, LHP, Tracy HS (CA)
Wesely is a 6’-1”, 180-pound left-hander who is already touching 94 mph with his fastball. Over 37 innings this season, he only allowed six hits, while striking out 79 batters to just 13 walks. He tossed two no-hitters and struck out 17 over seven innings against Bear Creek on May 3, allowing two hits on no walks. He has a lot of projection with a lot of room still to grow. He had 105 strikeouts over 59.2 innings as a sophomore, allowing just 21 hits.
13. Arizona Diamondbacks – Adam Plutko, RHP, UCLA
Plutko is a 6’-3”, 200-pound right-hander who is the ace of the Bruins staff. He went 11-3 this season with a 2.56 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 92 K/45 BB over 112.2 innings. As a freshman, he went 7-4 with a 2.01 ERA and had 92 K/24 BB over 107.2 innings while also holding opponents to a .193 batting average. He features a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and a plus change-up. His curveball is above-average and he is a polished pitcher who should be a quick riser to the major leagues.
14. St. Louis Cardinals – Zach Collins, C, American Heritage HS (FL)
Collins is a 6’-5”, 230-pound catcher who hits from the left side. He is mostly an offensive catcher right now, but if he can improve his defense enough in the next year to remain at his position, you are looking at the next Matt Wieters. He was also a member of U16 Team USA, hitting .500 (16-for-32) with three home runs and 16 RBI over eight games.
15. Toronto Blue Jays – William Abreu, OF, Mater Academy (FL)
Abreu plays for the same high school as Albert Almora, who was the sixth-overall pick by the Cubs in this year’s draft. Because of that, he has received more than his share of looks from scouts. The 6’-3”, 210-pound left-hander is a pure hitter with an advanced feel for the game. His size suggests more power will come, but for now, he is a line-drive hitter to all fields with great plate recognition. He also has a plus arm that will project well in a corner outfield spot. Huge ceiling, especially with the power potential.
16. Miami Marlins – Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Tullahoma HS (TN)
Sheffield is a two-sport star whose commitment to Vanderbilt might make him a tough sign. The 6’-1”, 185-pound right-hander can touch 94 mph with his fastball, and it has late life. He also has a power curve to go along with a slider that projects to plus. Over 49.2 innings this season, he had a 0.99 ERA and 73 K/24 BB while only allowing 21 hits. Tons of upside, but again, Vanderbilt.
17. New York Mets – Chris Okey, C, Eustis HS (FL)
Like Jeremy Martinez, Okey is a polished catcher with a lot of top level experience having also been a member of last year’s U18 Team USA gold medal team. He hit .386 this season with three home runs, 21 RBI and just four strikeouts over 57 at-bats. As a sophomore, he hit .519 with seven doubles, three home runs and 25 RBI. Offensively, he generates extremely quick bat speed from his strong wrists and projects to a high-average hitter with pop. Behind the plate, he plays like a seasoned major league veteran with a strong arm and great footwork.
18. Los Angeles Angels – Justin Williams, OF, Terrebonne HS (LA)
Williams is a 6’-2”, 200-pound left-hander with raw tools across the board. He has plus bat speed and jaw-dropping power to all fields. His swing is consistent and easy, showing the potential to also be a high-average hitter. An exceptional athlete whose ceiling is sky high.
19. Cleveland Indians – Trey Ball, LHP, New Castle Chrysler HS (IN)
Ball is a 6’-6” left-hander who shines both on the mound and at the plate. Still a little raw as a pitcher, his fastball already touches 94 mph, and his athletic ability makes for an easy delivery. He also adds a slider and change-up, both sitting in the mid-80s. With more refining on his overall game, and a strong senior season, he could shoot up draft boards come next season.
20. Pittsburgh Pirates – Dominic Smith, OF/1B, Serra HS (CA)
Over his 77 career high school games, Smith is hitting .568 (134-for-236) with 25 doubles, 13 triples, 14 home runs, 126 RBI and 30 stolen bases. He has also only struck out 13 times while drawing 44 walks. The 6’-1”, 200-pound left-hander is built like a linebacker and has raw power to all fields. His canon arm would play well at third base or a corner outfield spot, and he is a true five-tool talent offensively with a great approach at the plate.
21. Cincinnati Reds – Trevor Clifton, RHP, Heritage HS (TN)
Clifton is a 6’-4”, 180-pound right-hander with three above-average pitches already. His fastball sits in the low-90s with movement, and he also adds a mid-70s slider/curve and an upper-80s change-up. He struck out 57 batters over 33.2 innings this season, allowing just 17 hits. There is a lot of upside with Clifton as his size suggests more velocity will come as he fills out. Struck out eight over 5.1 innings, allowing just one run for U16 Team USA.
22. Chicago White Sox – Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford
Wilson is a 6’-5”, 240-pound left-hander who has plus power and is a terrific athlete. Over 59 games this season, he hit .285 with 12 doubles, 10 home runs, 56 RBI and nine stolen bases. He has a long swing that leads to a lot of swing-and-miss, and while he may not be a high-average hitter, his power potential is huge as a middle-of-the-order run producer with some speed.
23. San Francisco Giants – Dominic Ficociello, 1B, Arkansas
Ficociello is one of the better hitters in college, and if he can add more power to his game, could go in the upper half of the first round. Over 63 games this season, he hit .301 with 14 doubles, six home runs, 40 RBI and drew 33 walks for a .402 OBP. The 6’-4 switch-hitter was a Freshman All-American in 2011, as he hit .335 and lead the team with 50 RBI.
24. Atlanta Braves – Chris Rivera, SS, El Dorado HS (CA)
Rivera is a smooth-fielding, slick defender who makes the game look easy. At 6’-1”and 175 pounds, the right-hander also shows the ability to be a high-average hitter at the next level with his short, compact swing and ability to drive the ball to all fields. The 2012 draft showed the importance teams put on up-the-middle players, and Rivera has a chance to be a very good major league shortstop on both sides of the field.
25. Baltimore Orioles – Trevor Williams, RHP, Arizona State
Williams, a 6’-3”, 230-pound horse, went 12-2 this season with a 2.05 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 59 K/13 BB over 109.2 innings. He is one of the best command pitchers in the draft, and as a freshman, had 35 K/6 BB over 39.2 innings. Not an overpowering pitcher, instead he relies on his ability to work in and out on hitters, keeping them off balance with his array of pitches.
26. Texas Rangers – Matt Vogel, RHP, Medford HS (NY)
Vogel is a 6’-1”, 180-pound right-hander whose fastball can reach the mid-90s with movement. He also adds a curveball and a circle-change, while his mid-80s cutter may be his best pitch. He had a monster sophomore season in 2011, striking out 95 batters over 54.1 innings, allowing just 11 walks and 16 hits. He isn’t the biggest guy around, but his mix of pitches and ability to keep hitters off balance with his aggressiveness and mound presence separates him from the rest.
27. Tampa Bay Rays – Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Florida
Crawford put his name in the front of scouts by tossing a no-hitter in an NCAA regional game a week ago. The 6’-1”, 200-pound right-hander went 6-2 this season with a 3.13 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 70 K/24 BB over 74.2 innings. He features a low-90s fastball and a slider that looks plus at times. Pitching for Florida alongside Karsten Whitson will get him a ton of looks from scouts next season.
28. New York Yankees – Thomas Hatch, RHP, Jenks HS (OK)
Hatch is a 6’-2”, 210-pound right-hander whose fastball sits in the mid-90s with heavy sink. He also adds one of the best change-ups among prep pitchers and a curveball that is already above average. He has a smooth delivery and projects to a workhorse pitcher at the next level.
29. Washington Nationals – Ryan Tellez, 1B, Elk Grove HS (CA)
Tellez is a 6’-4”, 220-pound left-hander who has hit .535 (92-for-172) with 19 doubles, 15 home runs, 96 RBI and only 11 strikeouts over 57 games combined during his sophomore and junior seasons. He isn’t very athletic but his plus power and advanced approach at the plate make up for it.
30. Los Angeles Dodgers – John Kilichowski, LHP, Jesuit HS (FL)
Kilichowski is a 6’-5”, 200-pound left-hander who plays for the same high school as Lance McCullers, the 41st pick by the Houston Astros in this year’s draft. He has great mound presence and excellent command of all of his pitches. Over 33.2 innings this season, he went 4-0 with a 0.83 ERA and 47 K/13 BB while allowing just 12 hits. Big-time potential with more room for improvement and added velocity.