St. Petersburg, FL - After sorting through 300 players and making incredibly difficult cuts, this is how my Top-10 comes out. Quite a bit will change between now and the draft and even more by the time we know which ones turn into big leaguers. But as a snapshot on June 21st, 2010, after watching all 300 in the Perfect Game National Showcase, here is how I rank the best prospects for the 2011 Draft. Not surprisingly, the first five are pitchers.
1. Daniel Norris, LHP, Science Hill (TN) HS
Norris is an early favorite to go high in the first round. The athletic lefty has almost perfect mechanics and delivered 92-94 MPH fastballs with the makings of a plus curve. At 6’1”, 180, there’s still a little more strength he can add to his lower half that will make him more durable. The arm-action is very good and Norris is able to hide the ball from hitters, making his 92 look like 95. Development of his command and his change-up will make Norris a quick riser through the minors.
2. Michael Kelly, RHP, West Boca (FL) HS
The 6’5”, 195 lb Kelly has a prototype pitcher’s build and the makings of three big league pitches. Kelly threw 91-93 MPH with his fastball, showing good command of the vertical strike zone. Kelly’s curveball is major league average with the potential for plus and his straight change-up is dealt with conviction. Kelly throws over-the-top and after a quick stab in back, he’s smooth coming forward. Committed to Florida, Kelly will go into his senior year as one of the nation’s best righties.
3. Jose Fernandez, RHP, Tampa Alonso (FL) HS
The large-framed 6’3”, 240 lb righty doesn’t have a sculpted physique, but he’s very strong and athletic, possessing a big league arm. Fernandez’s delivery is well-coordinated and incorporates his powerful lower-half and core, putting little strain on his arm. Fernandez threw 90-94 MPH consistently and showed a 76-80 MPH slider that is a plus pitch at times. Because he’s so physically mature, Fernandez doesn’t project as much as other preps, but he may already have the stuff by next spring to move into somebody’s system and advance quickly.
4. Dillon Maples, RHP, Pinecrest (NC) HS
Maples was the most consistently hard thrower at the event, dealing at 92-95 MPH during his two innings of work. The 6’3”, 197 lb righty also showed an impressive 79-82 MPH breaking ball (hard curve or slider?) with two-plane bite. Maples throws a little across his body, but otherwise there isn’t much effort. Committed to UNC, Maples has a chance to be a high pick in 2011.
5. Carson Baranik, RHP, Parkway (LA) HS
Baranik might have been the most advanced pitcher at the Trop. He showed a solid-average MLB curveball (77-79 MPH) and a consistent 90 MPH fastball. What made them most effective was Baranik’s ability to put them where he wanted, he commanded his pitches like he was already a junior at Louisiana State and not just a recruit. Baranik has a wide-framed, wide-hipped build at 6’2”, 215 lbs, which is actually quite conducive for a pitcher. His arm works well with an over-the-top slot and Baranik has a strong delivery.
6. Tyler Greene, SS, Roswell (GA) HS
The University of Georgia-signed Greene was perhaps the best “workout” player at the event, showing every raw tool of a big leaguer. At a lanky 6’2”, 175 lbs, the tools will only get better and they just have to translate to the more competitive game at the next level. Greene has an upper-plane on his righthanded swing that produces average MLB power right now, but leaves him vulnerable to much of the lower strike zone. The actions and throwing arm are there to play anywhere on the field and shortstop is a possibility all the way up.
7. Dylan Davis, RHP/OF, Redmond (WA) HS
The Oregon State recruit has legitimate two-way prospectus. On the mound, Davis was dominant throwing consistently 91-92 MPH and showing a very good delivery with easy arm-action. Out of his high three-quarter release, Davis struggled to get a hard bite on his slider, but he managed to miss bats with good location. As a hitter, the 6’0”, 200 lb Davis generates big league bat-speed and has very good balance in the box. He doesn’t have a lot of projection because of his mature build, which will put him below some “lesser” present-day talents in the eyes of scouts.
8. Tyler Marlette, C, Hagerty (FL) HS
One of the event’s top hitters also has a plus arm from behind the plate. The 5’11”, 195 lb Marlette lacks physical projection, but his present-day tools are major league caliber already, particularly his arm, righthanded bat-speed, and raw power. Despite “stepping in the bucket” on many of his swings, Marlette shows the ability to hit outside pitches to the opposite field with authority. Marlette has a short release on his throws with quick feet and solid-average MLB arm-strength, registering 1.8 pops in the workout and 2.01 in the game. Marlette’s receiving skills are crude and his speed average, which combined might move him to the outfield in the future. He’s signed with Central Florida.
9. Chris McFarland, SS, Lufkin (TX) HS
McFarland is a burner on the bases with a strong 6’0”, 195 lb build and juice in his right bat. He showed good lateral agility on the infield with the hands and actions to play a plus second base since his lack of arm limits him at shortstop. McFarland showed an ability to use his hands as a hitter and make adjustments, though he chased balls away. The outfield is an intriguing option with his speed, and his arm will become playable when he learns to charge the ball and get a good crow-hop.
10. Cameron Gallagher, C, Manheim Township (PA) HS
Gallagher showed a power arm, quick feet, and a power bat in the Trop. Signed with East Carolina, the strongly built 6’2”, 210 lb Gallagher proved to be an advanced righthanded hitter. He has the bat-speed to hit MLB fastballs with wood plus the hands to hit curveballs. Gallagher’s game pops (2.06) were not as impressive as his workout (1.84-1.92), but it should come. His quick feet and stationary athleticism would also make Gallagher a solid defender at third base.
Because there were so many future draft picks in St. Petersburg this weekend, a Top-10 doesn’t do justice so we’ll expand it further in the next couple of days. So check back for more post-coverage of the 2010 Perfect Game National Showcase.