We have reached the home stretch for the 2013 Major League Baseball draft. High school and college players eligible for this year's class have been under the microscope for years, but now is when they need to be at their absolute best.
All 30 teams are starting to put together their boards and will move names up and down the list based on one good or bad performance.
While there are plenty of good players to talk about with this class—Mark Appel and Jonathan Gray at the top immediately spring to mind—the news is not all good for some of the bigger names in this draft.
Here are the players whose stock is dropping heading into the draft next month. (This is a follow-up to a similar piece I did in April.)
Arkansas RHP Ryne Stanek
|6-2||12 (12)||1.87||67.1||53||21||14||26||59||4|| .220|
Ryne Stanek is still going to be a first-round pick, so one can't come down too hard on him, even though he has gone from a likely top-five pick to a mid-round selection, at best. This season continues to be a mixed bag, both in his overall performance and the stuff he is showing.
For instance, in his last start against Kentucky on May 4, Stanek went 5.1 innings, gave up seven hits, three runs (all earned), two walks and four strikeouts. It's not a terrible start, but it is hardly the kind of dominance you expect from one of the top players in the country.
It has been like that all year for the Arkansas right-hander. The start he had before that against a bad Georgia team saw him throw 112 pitches in 6.2 innings with just three strikeouts and three walks.
Stanek's velocity is fine, with his fastball sitting 92-94 most nights, and he can flash a plus slider. But the command is all over the place, and he throws too many pitches without eating a lot of innings.
Stanek's upside is still high, but he seems less likely to reach that level now than he did even two months ago.
Red Wing HS (MN) OF Ryan Boldt
Ryan Boldt is a player who can do everything on a baseball field, even if he doesn't have that one elite tool that really grabs your attention. That is a highly valuable commodity in the draft, especially for a high school player.
Sure, you want someone that young to have a potential star-level tool. But there is something to be said for being good at everything without necessarily being elite at one thing.
Unfortunately, Boldt's body did not cooperate with him during his season with Red Wing and could end up forcing him to go to college.
The star outfielder injured his knee in the first game for Red Wing on April 26, preventing him from playing at all. He had surgery to repair what was discovered to be a "slight posterior tear" of the meniscus on May 6.
Since Boldt hasn't played in front of scouts leading up to the draft and suffered this injury, the odds of him going in the first round are gone.
He might slide into the second day as a potential value pick for a team that wants to convince him to take far less money than he would have gotten for the security of being able to rehab and play in professional baseball.
Boldt will likely end up attending the University of Nebraska, where he committed to play baseball, and entering the draft in three years while hoping to bring his stock back to where it was prior to the injury.
Jacksonville RHP Chris Anderson
|6-5||12 (12)||3.05||85.2||76||42||29||24||88||5|| .235|
Chris Anderson, like Ryne Stanek, has been all over the map this draft season after starting 2013 as a potential top-10 pick. Unlike the Arkansas right-hander, though, the debate about where Anderson will go seems to get worse for him every day.
His last two starts have been particularly mediocre (at best). On April 26 against North Florida, Anderson went 6.2 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits and four walks with just three strikeouts.
On May 4 against Florida Gulf Coast, Anderson was actually worse. He gave up four earned runs on seven hits with five walks and just two strikeouts.
Not all of this is Anderson's fault, as Jacksonville coach Terry Alexander has ridden his top starter so hard it's a miracle his arm hasn't fallen off. He threw 144 pitches in a complete game on March 1, and it hasn't been much easier on him since.
At his peak, Anderson will work 91-93 with a plus slider and above-average command. He has a good delivery and should have no problems repeating it every fifth day in professional baseball.
But considering the poor results he has produced in recent weeks, as well as the diminished quality of his stuff, Anderson will be lucky to remain in the mix for a Day 1 selection when the draft rolls around.
Terrebonne HS (LA) OF Justin Williams
Justin Williams was a star on the showcase circuit last year. I saw him at the Under Armour All-American Game in Chicago last August, and he also participated in the Perfect Game National Showcase and East Coast Pro Showcase.
The 6'3", 215-pound outfielder has tremendous offensive potential, with some of the best raw power in the draft. He doesn't profile well as a defensive player, with virtually no range and a solid arm. He will be a corner outfielder in professional baseball.
But Williams' stock really depends on how much you believe he can hit. Being able to hit the ball really far is a great skill to have—his pregame batting practice sessions are fun to watch—but you have to make consistent contact in order to drive the ball.
This has been a strange year for Williams, who is not getting anything to hit. It is hard to judge him against competition when the competition is scared to throw the ball his way. That also works against him, because how he is supposed to improve as a hitter without swinging the bat?
I know that facing high school pitching doesn't help improve your skills, but it does give scouts something to judge.
If you really like Williams, I can see putting a first-round grade on him. He has a big power-hitter's frame already with some room to add more bulk. Considering how little power there is in the game right now, he is a precious commodity.
But what is going to happen with Williams against professional pitching, let alone the advanced stuff he will see down the road in High-A and Double-A?
It is because of that lack of clarity that Williams would not be higher than a second- or third-round pick for me.
San Diego RHP Dylan Covey
|3-4||14 (13)||5.73||55.0||70||45||35||35||53||1|| .303|
Unlike the other players on this list, Dylan Covey is a player whose drop in stock is also evident in the numbers he has put up. He is a player already familiar to casual fans after being taken with the 14th overall pick by Milwaukee in the 2010 draft.
But Covey, who learned just days before the August signing deadline that he had Type 1 Diabetes, turned down a contract from the Brewers, which would presumably have been worth between $1-2 million as a mid first-round pick, to manage the illness.
While no one would ever question Covey's motives for making the decision he did, he cost himself a lot of money in the process.
Covey started the year as a potential second-round pick with an average fastball and three decent off-speed pitches, but he has completely fallen off the radar because of command and control problems.
As a draft-eligible junior, Covey could decide to return to school and improve his stock for next year. He is going to need a lot of work over the next 12 months to get there, as he offers no physical projection and the velocity is about as good as it will get.
Being able to throw quality strikes is going to be the biggest key for Covey. For a college pitcher at a quality program, you have to be concerned that the command isn't going to come around.
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