The 2010 MLB Draft is just around the corner and so ushers in another year of promising new talent, and rising stars that, one day, could become the next household name or MLB great.
Admittedly, this year’s draft in regard to the High School pool is a bit shallow, but that doesn’t mean there isn't a school of players waiting to show everyone what they've got.
I put together a small list of players whom I feel hold a ton of value in addition to their natural abilities. Will Player X who is hitting over .300 fall to the 10th round, and become a steal? Will a promising young High School pitcher already tooled with three pitches become the next Tim Lincecum?
It will take some time to see, but for now, let’s take a look at who I got and when you’re finished leave a comment below, and let us know who YOU think is one of the most valuable prospects in the draft.
You won’t hear about Jacoby Jones in the same conversation as some of the other more popular players in the draft, but perhaps you should.
Jones is an all-around five-tool player who has incredible bat speed making him a quality plus hitter, great running speed which makes him a dual offensive threat as a plus runner, and great footwork as both a shortstop and outfielder.
Jones has been compared to Troy Tulowitzki in regard to his hitting ability (.425 avg) and exceptional fielding (.991 fielding percent), and has all the makings of one of the most valuable players in the draft; especially if he goes later than thought around the fifth.
Asher Wojciechowski is a kid that has been speculated to wind up as a Ranger, a Met, and a Cub just to name a few, but what makes him ultra special is what really counts.
At 6’4” Wojciechowski has great mound presence and a solid 94 MPH fastball, and a slider that has been clocked steadily around 83 to 85 MPH.
Wojciechowski is above average in not only his pitching, but also his durability and endurance which means the kid could easily move into a starting role or simply add a few more ticks to his fastball, and wind up being a premier closer.
You’re not going to see this kid go in the early rounds which makes him even more valuable in my opinion; getting a 6’4” polished 94 MPH fastball pitcher in the middle rounds is an absolute steal.
Jeff Jackson has got to be one of the better draftees in the mix hailing from Wabash County College, and is the type of player that will probably be overlooked early; something that could make him a steal if he is grabbed between the eighth and 15th rounds.
Jackson is a .478 batter with 33 hits, 29 runs, 12 doubles, and four home rus as of May 20th, which are team leading stats, and a lot of this has been achieved despite a lot of pitchers trying to avoid him outright!
But the hitting is only one aspect of his abilities.
Jackson is a dual player at both first and in the outfield, making any transition he may wind up having to make, smooth as silk. If that’s not enough, the kid runs the 60-yard dash in just under 6.6 seconds which is basically the distance between second and home, and this guy is 6’3”!
A solid defenseman, a solid hitter, unbelievable speed…this kid is the real deal.
He’s 6’4”, an above average infielder and hitter, and a standout in an otherwise depth-less high school draft, and his name is Nick Castellanos.
Castellanos reminds me of a young Jayson Werth. He’s very tall and lanky, great against lefties, a deceptively adept base runner, and a future hot glove in the corner with some good range.
Castellanos’ numbers are sick (.542 avg, 41 RBI, 34 runs, six home runs) and his value is through the roof once the kid develops and matures.
The interesting aspect of Castellanos comes in the respect that the kid has sound footwork, and can play either at third (which is where he is projected to play) or on the corners (right would be the best fit at this stage), so there is plenty of wiggle room for him, as well as whoever drafts him.
Dylan Covey has caught the eye of a number of people hailing out of Marantha High School in Georgia, and his 93 MPH fastball is leading the way followed closely behind by a nasty—well developed might I add—curveball.
Covey also throws a very effective changeup that has only been in development for a short while now, so his value also comes equipped with a high aptitude.
He enters the draft with three solid pitches, great command, and he has been compared to players such as Chad Billingsley, and Jared Wright
Michael Choice is one of those players that has a little bit of everything, and what isn’t quite there yet is easily workable (trust me, there isn’t much this kid is lacking).
Choice has huge power despite having a quirky swing, he has a big powerful arm that allows him to play all areas of the outfield, and he has above average speed when running the bases. The best part is, those three particulars are incredibly rare to find in one player.
In 2008 Choice hit .376/.440/.558 and in 2009 he hit .413/.494/.644 with a combined 18 HR, 103 RBI 13 SB for both years.
So far in 2010, Choice is already hitting .383/.568/.704 with 16 HR, 12 SB and the kids has a walk to strikeout ratio of 76/54 which is unholy.
He has won more awards than a wall can hang; he has hit .444 against nationally ranked opponents, and has more value than a brand new Benz being sold for a dollar.
Bryce Brentz has gained a lot of notice from a myriad of clubs and rightfully so, as this kid is already halfway towards MLB form.
Brentz is a player that has a ton of power (.348 BA, 15 home rus, 49 RBI, .636 SLG in only 184 at-bats) and has been a solid, consistent player his entire career.
But the other aspect about Brentz that seals the deal is the fact that the kid throws 93 MPH from the mound…as an outfielder!
Raw cultivated power, a compact swing that speaks volumes of his future as a hitter, great base running speed, and a canon-like arm as an outfielder; doesn’t get much better than that.
Lakeland High School Senior Yordy Cabrera is double threat power batter who hasn’t even made the transition to college, and yet he is already making himself known.
Cabrera is a true power hitter who also has great speed ala Nelson Cruz, and with a .333 average and more walks than strikes, one also has to make a case that his eye for pitches is better than it should be at this stage of his career.
In time, the only change that could come is Cabrera moving to 3B and away from SS as he continues to grow, but his .911 field percent pretty much says he can play anywhere with great success.
In the Majors, there are always one or two guys who come traipsing along, boasting an incredible pitching arm (Stephen Strasburg is the obvious mention) but how many of those flame throwing phenoms can boast the innate ability to also play at third base?
How about Kaleb Cowart?
Cowart has been compared to players such as Chipper Jones, because of his switch hitting ability as a third baseman, and J.J Hardy in regard to his body type. As a hitter, Cowart has a lot of power and swings the bat well for a high school student (eight home runs, 32 RBI and a .640 AVG in 25 at-bats) but hitting isn’t the only ability in the youngster’s repertoire.
Cowart is also a very dominate pitcher who has a full range of pitches. His two power pitches are a fastball that tops out at around 90-93 MPH, and a deceptive slider that has peaked at 87. He has also been known to throw an 84 MPH cutter, a curveball and changeup in the mid range 70s, and a power sinker that has a lot of promise.
With so many identities and weapons as a player, Cowart is a competitor that already has incredibly high value.
There hasn’t been anyone more touted as “The Next Great Ballplayer” than Bryce Harper, and it doesn’t come without surprise.
The 6’3” 17-year-old has already been compared to players like Joe Mauer and Victor Martinez, and while Mauer would obviously be the ceiling and Martinez being the worst case scenario, it is clear that the kid is already the total package at catcher AND outfield.
In 2008 as a high school freshman, Harper hit 11 home runs and 67 RBI with a .599 average, only to better that in 2009 as a sophomore hitting 14 home runs with 55 RBI and a .626 average.
But shortly after he took his GED and transferred to The College of Southern Nevada, Harper really showed his stuff:
AB AVG SLG HR RBI BB/SO SB DBL R H
215 .442 .986 29 89 35-39 18 22 88 95
He is a bona fide five tool player and one of the best prospects to come around in a long while, and as long as the kid can control his sometimes controversial attitude issues, he will have a long and prosperous career in MLB.