St. Petersburg, FL - ST. PETERSBURG, FL- The PG Junior National Showcase came to its completion on Wednesday with many of the event’s best pitchers throwing on the final day. Seven pitchers make the Top-10 and all seven threw on Day Two.
There were roughly 120 players in attendance and the bulk majority are at least NCAA Division I prospects. I expect many to also make an impact on the 2012 Draft, but I’m careful to pick them apart at this age, two years away. As rising juniors, scouts are merely trying to identify the players who show potential and they won’t go out of their way to see them again until after the 2011 Draft is completed.
These rankings are basically a snapshot, my evaluation of the ten best prospects for the 2012 Draft at this time. All of these players must continue to improve to be high picks in 2012, but at this point they are near the top of their class.
TOP-10 PROSPECTS AT 2010 PERFECT GAME JUNIOR NATIONAL SHOWCASE
1. Lance McCullers, RHP, Tampa Jesuit HS, FL
McCullers is the hardest throwing post-sophomore I’ve ever seen; he was consistently 92-95 MPH with four-seam movement at the Trop on Wednesday. At times, his 83 MPH slider showed plus depth and has a chance to become a big league strikeout pitch. McCullers is also a shortstop and has very good athleticism in his delivery. A smaller framed 6’0”, 180 lb righty, he’s relatively inexperienced on the mound and has a ways to go with his pitchability. But scouts love the stuff and are excited to see where he’ll be as a senior.
2. Addison Russell, SS, Pace HS, FL
Russell didn’t have a big tournament at the plate, getting just one infield hit over two games. But his overall skill-set and polish is top-notch. Russell is a plus athlete with already solid-average arm-strength and good feet for shortstop, where he has a chance to play all the way up to the majors. At 6’0”, 175, the slender righthanded hitter generates good bat-speed with wood and can cover the plate though he got himself out chasing balls high out of the zone. Russell has shown an ability to wait well on off-speed. He doesn’t project as a pure power hitter, but has a chance to hit for average, steal bases, and play an above-average MLB shortstop one day.
3. Kayden Porter, 1B/RHP, Spanish Fork HS, UT
Unusually strong at 6’4”, 230 lbs, Porter has a large frame and projects for easy plus power down the road. Porter showed both hard line-drive and loft power at the event with major league bat-speed. He hit the ball hard in both games, having little trouble recognizing pitches. He also showed very good defensive actions at first, with a 60 arm, good feet, and soft hands, though Porter booted a routine grounder during the second game. Right field is another future option with his arm and agility (7.24 laser-timed 60 yard-dash). Porter listed himself as a primary pitcher and threw 88-91 MPH off the mound, but his delivery and arm-action were much stiffer than his swing. He has the potential to become a premium hitter in the 2012 Draft.
4. Chris Chinea, 1B/C/OF, Gulliver Prep HS, FL
Chinea was the best hitter of a strong group, at least in the present day. Nobody had a shorter stroke with more bat-speed, and nobody hit harder line-drives. Chinea could move his way through the lower minors right now. But at 5’11”, 210 lbs, he’s thick and physically mature with very little projection and a lot of risk to go bad with his body. Chinea has decent body control and projects for average arm-strength, so he can play around the field somewhere as long as he manages his weight. Chinea ran a 7.16 60 yard-dash on my stopwatch.
5. Zak Wasilewski, LHP, Tazewell HS, VA
A loose-armed, athletic lefty, the 6’1” Wasilewksi has room to grow on his 180 lb frame and will throw harder than the 87-88 MPH he showed on Wednesday. Wasilewski is very athletic for a pitcher and shows the makings of an average major league curveball. His poise on the mound was commendable and his delivery sound, exploiting his larger core and lower-body muscle groups
6. Adrian Marin, SS, Gulliver Prep HS, FL
The athletic Marin has good actions for shortstop and will likely be a plus runner when he’s draft-eligible (6.86 60 yd on my stopwatch). With a short release, his arm projects to average by MLB standards. Marin’s bat has farther to go, but he has a smooth swing that will get faster as he fills out his 6’0”, 165 lb frame.
7. Walker Weickel, RHP/OF, Olympia HS, FL
Walker Weickel is interesting both ways, but right now I grade him a little higher as a pitcher. The 6’6”, 192 lb righty has all kinds of physical projection and surprising coordination. Weickel threw 88-91 MPH consistently with four-seam action on his fastball. Weickel’s curve has a natural downward bite and he just needs to develop command of it.
8. Jonathan Sandfort, RHP, Winter Springs HS, FL
A strong-bodied and very projectable 6’5”, 210 lb righty, Sandfort threw in the high-80s consistently and it’s easy to see him as a low-90s pitcher as a senior. Sandfort hides the ball well with a short arm-stroke, and there’s no noticeable strain on his shoulder. The curveball shows the makings, but is slow and loosely spun right now (mid-60s).
9. Duane Underwood, RHP/OF, McEachern HS, GA
Underwood has two-way potential, but I like him better as a pitcher. He showed big league arm-action and a smooth delivery, dealing mostly in the 84-88 MPH range with a curveball that could one day be a plus pitch. At a wiry 6’1”, 165 lbs, Underwood will get much stronger and look completely different in a couple years.
10. Jason Carmichael, RHP, Mariner HS, FL
Carmichael is rail thin, appearing to the eye about 6’1”, 150 lbs, but with a quick arm and unusually good feel for his off-speed pitches. Everything works well aside from a head jerk and if Carmichael can grow into some physical strength, he’ll throw much harder. He was clearly over-throwing in the Trop and pumped it up at 86-90 MPH for two innings. Carmichael’s curveball is a two-plane biter that may turn into a plus pitch by the time he’s draft-eligible. His change-up also has such potential. Carmichael needs to command his fastball better to move through the minors and has two years to develop it.