2014 MLB draft: 10 high school players on the rise — fifth edition

The 2014 MLB draft is just under two months away with the first two rounds set to be held on June 5. If there is one thing I am certain of, it’s high school arms will be well represented on day one. This draft is shaping up to be an all-timer for arms, and more and more just seem to be stepping up. There are also some quality bats in this draft, mostly on the prep level. Here are my weekly 10 players who have impressed me:

Alex Destino has excelled at the plate, as well as the mound this season.
Alex Destino has excelled at the plate, as well as the mound this season.

Alex Destino, LHP/OF, North Buncombe HS (NC)

Seen as more of a pitching prospect than hitter, the 6’-3”, 220 pound left-hander has been crushing the baseball this season, and his power potential is scary good. Through 13 games, he is hitting .521/.566/1.208 with nine doubles, eight home runs and only two strikeouts. On the mound, he offers a lot of projection due to his size, arm speed and power arm from the left side. His fastball can touch 92 mph, and he adds a mid-70s slider and low-80s change-up. In his last start, he struck out 11 over four perfect innings. A two-way talent with equal upside as both a hitter and pitcher. Committed to South Carolina.

Cody Reed, LHP, Ardmore HS (AL)

Denton Keys racked up 115 K/9 BB over 45.2 innings last season for Rye HS in Colorado. His 22.7 K/9 ratio was absurd, and I became fascinated with the 6’-4”, 200 pound southpaw. He was from a small school and he was obviously facing inferior competition as his team outscored its opponents 262-26 for the season. Keys was drafted in the 11th round by the Phillies and had 11 K/5 BB over 19 innings in the GCL. Cody Reed is this year’s fascination. Through seven starts, the 6’-4”, 220 pound southpaw has 101 K/7 BB over 42 innings for a 21.64 K/9 ratio. Like Keys, he is from a small school and is just toying with his peers. He throws a little harder than Keys as his fastball has touched 95 mph according to Jeff Passan at Yahoo. Reed is a Vanderbilt commit, so he is clearly on the radar and could be a tough sign. It’s hard to find any other scouting reports on him, but he is definitely one to follow for the next two months.

Griffin Helms, C, Norcross HS (GA)

If a team is looking for a catcher with power and good speed, they should take a hard look at Helms, a 6’-1”, 210 pound right-hander whose strong arm (1.85 pop times) and footwork give him a legitimate shot to stick behind the plate. He has been clocked at 6.59 in the 60 and could easily transition to a corner outfield spot where his tools would play well. Over 18 games, he is hitting .403/.487/.580 with three home runs and 11 stolen bases. His strong wrists and bat speed allow him power to all fields, and he has a patient approach at the plate. Committed to Kennesaw State.

Derek Hill, OF, Elk Grove HS (CA)

Considered the best defensive outfielder in his class, Hill shows all the tools to be a gold-glove caliber player, including plus speed (6.44/60) and a strong arm (93 mph from outfield). He also shows a lot of promise at the plate. At 6’-2” and 180 pounds, the right-hander has a line-drive swing and makes consistent contact. More power should come as he matures. Through his first 12 games for powerhouse Elk Grove, he has gone 16-for-26 (.615) with five extra-base hits and seven stolen bases. A possible first-round pick and committed to Oregon.

Isiah Gilliam, OF/1B, Parkview HS (GA)

Mac Marshall gets most of the attention from scouts when they visit Parkview games, but Gilliam is a kid who grabs your attention on sight alone. At 6’-3” and 220 pounds, he is a man already and the junior has been ruled eligible for the 2014 MLB draft as he will have four years of high school under his belt by year’s end. A switch-hitter, he can rake equally from both sides of the plate but has a bit more power from the right side. He has good bat speed and can take bad pitches out to all fields with his power. He has a strong arm (93 mph from outfield) but most likely will end up at first base where he shows above-average defensive skills.

Justin Twine, SS/RHP, Falls City HS (TX)

A two-way standout in both baseball and football, Twine is a great athlete who has been a one-man wrecking crew for Falls City this season. At the plate, he is hitting .615/.756/1.308 with four doubles, four triples, two home runs and 14 stolen bases. He has drawn 13 walks to just two strikeouts. On the mound, he has 32 K/2 BB over 13 innings, allowing just three hits. At 5’-10” and 200 pounds, he has more upside as a position player where his speed (6.52/60) and strong arm will allow him to play at several positions. He is considered raw as he has split his time between sports, but he has all the tools and the power is already coming. Committed to TCU.

Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS (FL)

Foley has made this list a couple of time already and is back again after tossing a no-hitter on April 4, striking out 10 over five innings. He now has 75 K/13 BB over 38 innings, allowing just 10 hits. The 6’-4”, 210 pound right-hander has a four-pitch mix headlined by a fastball that can touch 94 mph and a nasty, upper-70s curveball that is one of the best in his class. I think he has first-round potential, although I haven’t seen him that high on many draft boards. Committed to Florida State.

Cameron Varga, RHP, Cincinnati Hills HS (OH)

Varga makes the list again after another brilliant performance. He struck out 14 to no walks over five shutout innings on April 4 against Cincinnati Christian. He now has a ridiculous 32 strikeouts over 12 innings with just two walks allowed. A converted shortstop with a fresh arm, the 6’-4”, 205 pound right-hander has top-of-the-rotation stuff with a fastball that sits 92-95 mph and an upper-70s curveball with nice depth. He adds a solid upper-70s change-up and has great command of all three. With his size, stuff and projection, I think he can go top-15. Committed to North Carolina.

Alex Faedo, RHP, Alonso HS (FL)

Yet another rising prep arm, Faedo tossed a no-hitter of his own on April 4, striking out nine to two walks over seven innings. He now has 48 K/5 BB over 32.1 innings, allowing 19 hits on the season. At 6’-5” and 210 pounds, the right-hander has a lot of projection and was hitting 94 mph over the summer. His slider shows plus potential and, with his low-effort delivery, there is still room for more in the tank. Committed to Florida.

Tucker Baca, LHP, North Gwinnett HS (GA)

A sidearm pitcher, the 6’-3”, 200 pound southpaw kills left-handed hitters with his arm side run and late life on his 89-92 mph fastball. He has a solid mid-70s change-up with a lot of deception and adds a developing curveball. He has improved his velocity rapidly, and most believe he will continue to add more as he matures. Over his last four starts, he has 30 K/7 BB over 21 innings, allowing just six hits. Committed to Arizona.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter @DanMKirby for 2014 MLB draft updates, high school and college news, as well as Chicago Cubs ramblings.

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