Port St. Lucie, FL - I suspect that these will be the players I remember most five and ten years from now looking back on the event. The underclassmen were outstanding and there were many more who’ll end up getting drafted even though they didn’t make my elite rankings.
As with the seniors, these are based on my evaluations. They are a snapshot of the players today, but a lot will change between now and whenever they’re draft-eligible.
TOP-5 JUNIOR PROSPECTS FOR THE 2011 DRAFT
1. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Alonso
The jumbo-framed 6’3” righty threw 91-94 MPH with a big league 81-85 MPH slider. His easy arm-action and strong delivery project him as an inning-eater starter. Fernandez is an early candidate for the first round of 2011.
2. Matt Wisniewski, OF, Trinity Christian-Deltona
At a slender and immature 6’1”, 165 lbs, Wisniewski is a budding young power hitter with a natural home run stroke. When the body fills out, he will be very dangerous with wood. The peripheral tools have a ways to go to become adequate, but it’s his bat that will sell.
3. Jose Brizuela, 3B/RHP, Archbishop McCarthy
An athletic two-way player, I grade him slightly higher on the mound where Brizuela is loose, throws 86-90 MPH from the right side, and has the makings of a big league slider. The lefthanded hitter has a quick bat as well and a very good glove for anywhere on the infield.
4. Evin Lynch, RHP, Trinity Christian-Deltona
The 6’7” righty threw in the mid-80s and projects for much more. He showed good arm-action with a clean stroke. The curveball has a chance to become major league average. Well-coordinated for such a long, lanky body, Lynch has considerable upside.
5. Dante Bichette Jr., 3B, Orangewood Christian
The 5’11”, 180 lb Bichette has a strong buggy-whip swing and can hit hard line-drives from the right side. He’s also an average runner, though he lacks pure infield actions for the hot corner. Father was a longtime major league outfielder.
TOP-5 SOPHOMORE PROSPECTS FOR THE 2012 DRAFT
1. Addison Russell, SS, Pace
With terrific athleticism, an advanced bat, and the ability to play the diamond’s toughest position all the way up, Russell just needs to keep working hard to become a 1st-round pick in 2012.
2. Lance McCullers, RHP/SS, Tampa Jesuit
Blessed with tremendous arm-strength (93-97 MPH in stint) and the makings of a plus slider, McCullers is also a very good athlete. The 6’0”, 175 lb McCullers hasn’t pitched much and just needs experience on the mound. Father is ex-big league pitcher of the same name.
3. Hayden Hurst, RHP/1B, Bolles
Hurst isn’t just a great baseball body (6’5”, 215 lbs.), he has a power bat and a future power arm. The potential is there to become a high draft pick either way and he could easily be 240-250 lbs of muscle by the time he’s physically mature. Hurst just needs to keep polishing his game both ways.
4. Adrian Marin, SS, Gulliver Prep
Marin has the athletic actions to play shortstop and a smooth swing to go with it. At 5’10”, 165 lbs, he’s nowhere near as strong as he’ll be as a senior. Verbally committed to Miami already, Marin will get long looks for the 2012 Draft.
5. Keon Barnum, 1B/LHP, Tampa King
Possessing the most powerful swing in the tournament (including Nick Castellanos), the lefthanded hitting Barnum is still crude in game situations. At 6’3”, 230 lbs, he’s very big, very strong, and still has room to grow. The upside is tremendous as a hitter and he should become solid defensively as well. Mid-high-80s fastball and easy arm-action makes him a pro follow on the mound, too.