While we’re only a little more than two months removed from the 2013 MLB first-year player draft, it’s never too early to begin previewing the exceptional talent in next year’s class.
At the high school level, the class is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. On the mound, there are already a large number of arms that already sit comfortably in the mid-90s with their fastball, and even more poised to join the club over the next year.
In terms of position prospects, the 2014 class features a healthy mix of hitters with an advanced feel for their craft, as well as those who showcase tremendous natural ability but require considerable projection.
Here’s an early look at the top high school prospects for the 2014 draft class.
1. Alex Jackson, C-OF, Rancho Bernardo HS (Oregon)
Jackson draws comparisons to Bryce Harper for his catcher-outfielder defensive profile and plus bat speed. Spending most of is time behind the dish, the 6’2”, 215-pounder is an advanced defender with excellent catch-and-throw skills and a cannon for an arm. However, because his right-handed bat has the potential to be that good, Jackson is expected to move to the outfield full time as a professional so as to save his knees and hopefully elongate his career.
2. Tyler Kolek, RHP, Shepherd HS (Texas)
At 6’6”, 245 pounds, Kolek is a big, physical right-hander who boasts the best fastball velocity in the class. Working on a downhill plane with a tough three-quarters arm slot, Kolek works comfortably in the mid-90s and shown the ability to bump 99-100 mph this summer. He also throws a slider that flashes plus potential, as well as an average curveball and undeveloped changeup.
3. Jacob Gatewood, SS, Clovis HS (Calif.)
Gatewood has an athletic and projectable frame at 6’3”, 175 pounds that will allow him to add considerable strength as he matures physically. He’s a right-handed hitter with lightning-quick wrists and explosive bat speed that yield effortless plus raw power—especially to the pull side. Currently a shortstop, Gatewood is expected to outgrow the position and eventually slide over to third base.
4. Dylan Cease, RHP, Milton HS (Ga.)
At 6’2”, 180 pounds, Cease doesn’t have a monster frame like Kolek, but demonstrates similar body control and balance throughout his delivery. The right-hander also boasts a big arm that pumps heavy, sinking fastballs consistently in the 92-95 mph range, topping out around 96-97 mph early in games. Cease has also opened eyes with a slurvey breaking ball in the low-70s featuring with impressive tilt and two-plane break.
5. Grant Holmes, RHP, Conway HS (S.C.)
Holmes has a thick, durable build at 6’2”, 210 pounds with broad shoulders and strong lower half. Even though he has impressive present athleticism for his size, the right-hander is seemingly maxed out physically. However, that doesn’t make his pure stuff any less impressive, as he already showcases two plus pitches in a 93-96 mph fastball with late life and wipeout curveball with sharp break in the low-to-mid-80s.
6. Michael Gettys, OF-RHP, Gainesville HS (Ga.)
Even though he’s capable of pumping low-90s fastballs off the mound, Gettys' most realistic future is as a center fielder. Possessing plenty of present strength at 6’2”, 200 pounds, Gettys is also one of the top runners in the 2014 draft class, showcasing legitimate plus-plus speed on both sides of the ball. At the dish, the right-handed hitter has shown improved bat speed over the summer and is expected to offer at least average power at maturity. His secondary skills and pitch recognition are both raw, but figure to improve as he continues to gain experience.
7. Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs Christian HS (Fla.)
A well-known commodity in the scouting community, Touissaint has been on the radar for the last two seasons thanks to a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s and has bumped 97 in the past. The 6’3”, 185-pound right-hander’s curveball ranks as one of the best in the class, as he throws the pitch in the low-70s with exceptional depth and a sharp, two-plane break that induces whiffs. Toussaint is also one of the younger hurlers in the 2014 class, as he doesn’t turn 18 until after the June draft.
8. Braxton Davidson, 1B-RF, T.C. Roberson HS (N.C.)
Currently my favorite position prospect in the class, Davidson is an arguably the best pure hitter among prep prospects. A 6’2”, 215-pound left-handed hitter, the North Carolina commit has a smooth, balanced swing that already produces above-average raw power that will likely develop into a plus attribute as he adds strength. In general, Davidson has an advanced feel for hitting, with the ability to barrel the ball to all fields and collect extra-base hits as though it’s about to go out of style.
9. Jack Flaherty, 3B, Harvard-Westlake HS (Calif.)
One of the more famous names in the draft class, Flaherty is an impressive athlete with an extremely projectable 6’4”, 205-pound frame. A right-handed hitter, he has a mature approach that allows him sting the ball from line to line and lends to his projection as an above-average hitter with similar power. Given his present athleticism, hand-eye coordination and strong arm, Flaherty has the makings of a slightly above-average defender at the hot corner.
10. Ti’quan Forbes, SS, Columbia HS (Miss.)
The youngest prospect in the draft class, Forbes, who scouts knew little to nothing about heading into the summer, stands out for his impressive blend of athleticism and tools. At 6’4”, 175 pounds, the Ole Miss commit has plenty of room to fill out and presumably will be loaded with strength at maturity. At the dish, Forbes, a right-handed hitter, showcases above-average bat speed with some pop to the gaps and utilizes his plus speed to leg out countless infield knocks. Meanwhile, at shortstop, he projects to remain at the position long-term with exceptional range, smooth and fluid actions, and plenty of arm strength.
Other Notable Pitchers
Luis Ortiz, RHP, Sanger HS (Calif.)
Mac Marshall, LHP, Parkview HS (Ga.)
Kodi Medeiros, LHP, Waiakea HS (Hawaii)
Cobi Johnson, RHP, Mitchell HS (Fla.)
Sean Reid-Foley, RHP, Sandalwood HS (Fla.)
Brady Aiken, LHP, Cardiff by the Sea HS (Calif.)
Other Notable Position Players
Derek Hill, OF, Elk Grove HS (Calif.)
Greg Deichmann, SS, Brother Martin HS (La.)
Kel Johnson, OF-1B, Palmetto HS (Ga.)
Chase Vallot, C, St. Thomas More HS (La.)