Fort Myers, FL - As I watched the 140-some rising juniors work out on Tuesday, I couldn’t help but respect the Latin America-based scouts who have to put dollar signs on 16 and 17 year-olds. These players are the same age and I know from years past that they change so much between now and their draft year.
I’m watching many of the best 2013 players in the country yet only a handful have the present-day skills to compare with the typical 2012 prospect I’ll see at the Perfect Game National in two days. By next year, many more will. One year makes that big of a difference, all of these players will get better and some will become completely different animals by the time they’re draft eligible.
So when a 2013 grad shows me big league tools in 2011, I can’t help but take notice.
During the outfield workouts, I saw two arms that I graded as “plus” right now on the 20-80 major league scale. Willie Abreu (Miami Springs HS) and Clinton Hollon (Woodford County HS, KY) are both 60s in my book and it’s not often I drop such a high number on a rising junior’s throwing arm. The 6’2”, 190 lb, left/left Abreu showed a lot of athleticism as well and he’s the type who could really come on by the time the spotlight shines on 2013 grads next summer. Hollon is a righty both ways who threw line-drive lasers and showed a strong bat to go with it. His 6’1”, 190 lb frame doesn’t have as much room to fill out as Abreu’s, but the package is interesting and he’s already verbally committed to Kentucky.
During the infield workouts, Will Savage (Fieldston HS, NY) and Kramer Robertson (Waco Midway HS, TX) showed the best actions at shortstop. Savage has a lot of agility and also ran a laser-timed 6.7 60 yard-dash. From what I’ve seen, he has a chance to stay at shortstop all the way up. Savage’s hands are sure and he has the body control to make the play in the hole. Right now Savage’s arm is below-average (by MLB shortstop standards) but he throws accurately and can finish plays while off-balance. In my opinion, his arm projects to average down the road.
Robertson is a couple inches shorter at 5’10” and just a machine at shortstop. He should develop a shortstop’s arm and has a quick release to boot. Robertson’s glove-to-hand transfers are very good and he has decent lateral agility despite just average straightaway speed (7.09 laser-timed 60 yd).
There were a number of catchers who worked out well, but two in particular showed both sub-1.9 practice pop times and powerful bats in batting practice.
Chris Okey (Eustis HS, FL) is a rangy 5’11”, 175 lb catcher with a lot of fast twitches. He has big league arm-strength already and when he figures out the footwork and transfer, Okey can become a plus thrower. He also showed (in my opinion) the fastest bat at the event. Okey can generate solid-average big league bat-speed with wood right now and that is precious to find in any prep much less a rising junior. Okey also ran well; I timed him at 4.19 seconds going home to first.
I didn’t see him put a good swing on a ball during the game, but I know it’s there. Okey is a little crude as a receiver and that will take time to develop, I think he’ll make quick strides as he gains lower-body strength and develops a more comfortable crouch. Okey has already verbally committed to Clemson.
Chuck Robinson (Danville HS, IL) is the other catcher who showed power/power tools. He’s blessed with a short release and good footwork despite a fairly thick 6’1”, 215 lb frame. Robinson takes a big cut at the plate and has a chance for plus raw power in the future. He hit one out in BP at City of Palms Park.
Okey had the fastest bat, but Clint Frazier (Loganville HS, GA) displayed the quickest hands. It’s absolute lightning, the way he manipulates the handle of the bat is reminiscent of Javier Baez who was just the 9th overall pick in the draft by the Chicago Cubs. Frazier is a strongly built 5’11”, 185 lbs. There’s not a lot of projection, but he might end up a polished bat by the time the 2013 Draft rolls around and is an average runner to go with it.
John Sternagel (Rockledge HS, FL) is another righthanded hitter with a very quick bat. He showed a very good approach as well and has the 6’2” frame to grow into. Sternagel hit line shots all over the field.
One more impressive hitter to mention is a 2014 grad, first baseman Drew Ward (Leedey HS, OK). Ward is a strong-framed and very projectable 6’3”, 197 lbs, and he can generate wood bat-speed as a rising sophomore. Ward has quick hips, a short stroke, and good loft power. He recognized pitches in the game and pulled the ball with authority. There aren’t many kids who finish their freshman years as no-brain follows for scouts, but Ward is one for sure.
Check back tomorrow for Day 2 and a Top Prospects Article from the 2011 Perfect Game Junior National in Fort Myers.