2013 MLB Draft: Ranking the Top 10 Boom or Bust Draft Prospects
On Thursday evening, Major League Baseball teams will partake in the annual June draft, casting the future of the franchise into selections of players fresh out of high school or college. Their arrival into the minor league system will bring about projections, often towards the very, very optimistic side.
Of course, many high draft picks won't pan out. On the other hand, many players will be undervalued, progress to a level not envisioned during the draft weekend and go on to become stars in the show.
Assessing the future of raw talent is an unenviable task for any talent evaluator in sports.
When the projection is correct, we're told that those front office minds are simply doing their job correctly. But if that projection is wrong, it often results in the loss of a job.
Clearly, some talents, both good and bad, are easier to evaluate than others.
Bryce Harper was supposed to be a star. Yet so was Todd Van Poppel.
With two days left before these names hit your radar screen, here are the Top 10 Boom or Bust Draft Prospects in the 2013 Class.
Don't be surprised if some are stars before long, but try not to hold your breath if they stall in the minors.
Of Austin Meadows, Grayson HS (Ga.)
Meadows, 18, is a left-handed hitter with enough upside to be taken within the first five picks on Thursday evening.
Although all five tools for a position player are present when watching film, reading scouting reports and dissecting his game, his high school statistics did not jump off the page this year.
Over the course of baseball history, thousands of kids have looked the part. To be a star, production needs to accompany the gifts.
To be fair, it's impossible to garner truly meaningful data from statistics in high school competition.
If Meadows hit .850 in Georgia high school ball, his future still wouldn't be a lock.
As he progresses, keep an eye on the statistics that accompany the rave reviews from scouts.
RHP Kohl Stewart, St. Pius X HS (Texas)
In terms of raw stuff, Kohl should be a top 10 pick. With the right pitching coach and health and time to work on his craft, the 18-year-old right-handed high school pitcher can become a big asset to any organization.
Of course, questions loom about his commitment to the game of baseball and health.
While a signing bonus from a major league team may sway his decision-making, Stewart is one of the top high school quarterbacks in the nation. His commitment to Texas A&M, along with the likelihood of backing up future NFL prospect Johnny Manziel for a year before he goes pro, complicates the matter of selecting him high on Thursday night.
If this tale sounds like former MLB/NCAA quarterback dilemmas such as Russell Wilson, Bubba Starling and Drew Henson, it should.
In addition to the baseball/football dilemma, Stewart suffers from Type 1 diabetes. While it shouldn't be a deterrent to his development, any health risk could be deemed a red flag moving forward. For what it's worth, Blue Jays pitcher Brandon Morrow has thrived under the same condition.
LHP/OF Trey Ball, New Castle HS (Ind.)
While there's little doubt that the Indiana high school product can play at the big league level, his development and future are clouded by his immense versatility and gifts.
Yes, Ball's blessing may turn out to be his curse.
With a projection as either a left-handed pitcher or outfielder, the organization that selects Ball early in the draft will have to decide which route to send the 18-year-old in their minor league system.
While his high school status and age leave room for error, choosing the wrong path, or worse yet, flip-flopping between the two areas, could stunt his development for years.
Talent and individual makeup usually determine the success or failure of a young player, but in this case, the organizational plan allotted for Ball could turn out to be the most important part of his boom or bust moniker.
LHP Sean Manaea, Indiana St.
With a 96 mph fastball, a 6'5" frame and dominance in the Cape Cod League, Manaea is a burst of upside waiting to happen.
Since he's a long, tall, lankly left-hander, the key to his development could be mechanics and the proper pitching coach.
If Manaea can harness the strikeout ability shown in the Cape, his ceiling will be sky high. If he can't, expect a pitcher who will struggle to consistently find a delivery and the strike zone.
LHP Ian Clarkin, James Madison HS (Calif.)
With a 92-93 mph fastball in his arsenal, Clarkin has impressed scouts for years, launching himself into the first-round discussion for the MLB draft.
Of course, as with many young pitchers, his command can leave him at times.
Much like Sean Manaea, command and refining his mechanics will be key to his development.
Although he's a high school prospect, the fast track to the big leagues could be in his future if his command improves at the lower levels of the minor league system.
SS J.P. Crawford, Lakewood HS (Calif.)
While there's little doubt about Crawford's ability to play shortstop at a very, very high level defensively, questions about how much he will hit make him a definite boom or bust prospect in this draft.
Ultimately, comparisons to Andrelton Simmons or Elvis Andrus could emerge as he progresses through the minors.
If Crawford can just hit at an average level, his glove may make him a big leaguer down the line. If he can grow to greater levels with the bat, he could become a star.
RHP Phil Bickford, Westlake Village HS (Calif.)
If any pitcher in this class passes the eye test more than Phil Bickford, I haven't seen him. With size, strength and a big-time fastball, this young right-handed pitcher looks like he can profile into an ace for a contending team down the line.
Of course, like many young pitchers, command of his top pitch and development of his secondary pitches will become key.
If Bickford fails to develop his command and secondary stuff, his fastball and frame won't matter against professional hitters.
While a 97 mph fastball is a good start to building a pitcher, it's only the beginning.
LHP Rob Kaminsky, St. Joseph Regional HS (N.J.)
Despite the advancements in scouting, smart front-office minds deploying baseball experts to run draft rooms and the success of past players with red flags, a smallish left-handed pitcher from New Jersey could slip through the cracks on Thursday night.
While it's fair to acknowledge that Kaminsky's size (6'1", 190) isn't ideal for a future ace, the questions of durability should be placed aside until he's put into a minor league system and given the opportunity to work his way up to the 200-inning plateau.
Furthermore, the success of Mike Trout, hailing from Millville, NJ, should have been the end of Northeast kids being passed up because of the relative lack of seasoning compared to their warm-weathered counterparts.
Kaminsky looks the part of a future big league arm. If he can show that his size and region aren't detriments, he'll become just that.
If he doesn't, his name will be cited as reasons why not to take the next Rob Kaminsky.
LHP Hunter Green, Warren East HS (Kent.)
Green, 18, is a left-handed pitcher that lights up the imagination of those who watch him pitch. Due to an easy delivery that produces fastballs in the low 90s and a body frame that can easily pack on muscle, thus resulting in more strength, his future can be very, very bright.
Of course, projecting the mental and physical maturity of a high school arm is sometimes fool's gold.
It's likely that a team will fall in love with Green, select him higher than other franchises would and hope for the best.
Four or five years from now, that risk/reward will come to fruition for this boom or bust arm.
C Chris Okey, Eustis HS (Fla.)
The video above shows the tantalizing swing possessed by this high school catching prospect, but rarely has that kind of power display been shown in actual games.
When assessing his future, it's impossible not to be impressed by the fact that he has a handle on the strike zone, will take walks and isn't a high strikeout hitter despite a powerful swing.
Projecting catchers to be future stars can be tricky due to the demands of learning the position defensively, but Okey has the chance to get there.
Of course, bringing that batting practice swing to the actual games will go a long, long way to seeing that talent magnified.