Draft Notes: Looking Down & Ahead

Kiley brings us some notes on down list 2013 draft prospects and looks ahead to the 2014 and even 2015 drafts with buzz he's hearing from scouts and players he's seen recently.

2013 Draft Prospects

- I scout I spoke to yesterday said, unsurprisingly, that of the two elite Atlanta-area prep center fielders, Clint Frazier has started "gangbusters" while Austin Meadows has been "just okay." This will be an ongoing discussion this spring that I'll be checking in on in person when I see then in a few weeks. Meadows is the younger, more athletic and more projectable prospect with more tools and Frazier is the performer that has great bat speed but lags behind Meadows in every other category. This reminds me of the Byron Buxton (#2 overall pick) vs Albert Almora (#6 overall pick) debate of last year in a lot of ways, and neither of those discussions is close to being over.

- While I was in the Bay Area to see Stanford/Fresno St., I was told local prep LHP Matt Krook had taken a step forward and hit 95 mph in a recent scrimmage. Over 75 scouts all in town for the college series piled into the high school stands to see Krook's season debut and while he didn't hit 95, he has the look of a top two round pick. Projectable with a clean arm, 88-91 mph fastball that hit 92 and above average breaking ball, the Oregon signee brings plenty to the table even though he didn't match his previous high velocity.

- Along the same lines as Krook, Tampa-area prospect and Alabama signee RHP Nick Eicholtz took a step forward early this spring. Eicholtz was 87-89 with his cutter and a solid curveball over the fall/spring but his clean arm and projectable frame made scouts think there was more in the tank. Eicholtz was recently 89-91 with an above average slurve and the makings of an average of better changeup in front of 40+ scouts a few weeks back and have serious helium into the top 50 selections.

- Yet another prep arm with a velo bump early in the spring is Ft. Myers-area prospect and Florida signee LHP Sean Brady. Brady was 86-89 and hit 91 at his best on the summer circuit and has a maxed-out but athletic 6'0, 185-pound frame. I haven't seen him yet this spring but scouts have passed along that he's been up to 93 and is a guy to look out for in early rounds.

- Also in the Ft Myers-area, standing out for an upstart Florida Gulf Coast program that just swept the Gators is LHP Brian Bixler. His team has more known prospects in pitchability RHP Ricky Knapp that pitched on the Cape and RHR Harrison Cooney that has been up to 96 but some scouts are saying Bixler has some of the best stuff in the state. One scout said he has a lot of similarities to Brady but said without the commitment to UF, Bixler will be cheaper so should go even higher.

- RHP Brett Morales is another Florida signee who just missed the top 50 due to some early season inconsistency. Morales' threw a perfect game this past Tuesday and his next outing will be loaded with scouts when he faces top 100 prospect and yet another Florida signee RHP Tyler Danish in the Saladino Tournament. A solid performance could go a long way towards solidifying Morales in the top 50 picks.

- Akeem Bostick is a lanky, athletic 6'5 prep righty from South Carolina that made a name for himself hitting 93 in Jupiter on the loaded travel team that included potential 2013 top three round picks Ryan Boldt, Ian Clarkin, Trevor Clifton, Taylor Widener, Jordan Sheffield and Carlos Salazar. Word is Bostick, a Georgia Southern signee has hit 94 recently and that fellow South Carolina prep arms Widener and Cory Thompson have been well into the 90's in a bumper prep crop headlined by catcher Nick Ciuffo.

Quick Hits

- Florida-committed 3B John Sternagel (hip), like Texas prep RHP Kohl Stewart, has missed the early part of the season, but should be returning soon…Mobile-area prep arm Evan Smith has been in the low 90's early in the season and the lanky 6'6 lefty should have more in the tank…The Iowa Scout League should get plenty of high level scouts in this year when member of the Missouri signee and #40 prospect LHP Jake Brentz faces another LHP that just missed in Iowa native A.J. Puk, a Florida signee.

2014 Draft Prospects

- I'll put up a report soon but TCU sophomore LHP Brandon Finnegan has hit 97 in recent week and I saw him up to 96 against Jacksonville. The lefty has a lot of similarities to Scott Kazmir as a smallish lefty with big velo, an above average breaking ball and some feel for pitching. He seems like a slam-dunk to go somewhere in the first round next year.

- Speaking of slam dunk first rounders, San Diego State RHP Michael Cederoth at first blush will remind some of a number one overall pick from the same school, Stephen Strasburg, but the comparisons isn't apt. Cederoth has the same velocity: one scout told me he hit 100 in pregame warm-ups and sat 95-99 mph during the game. The Strasburg comp ends with the secondary stuff, as Cederoth's isn't advanced and is more average.

Quick Hits

- I've seen a couple 2014 bats in recent weeks that are worth mentioning. TCU 1B Kevin Cron has massive power but a soft body and some trouble with advanced stuff, making him a top 5 round prospect rather than a 1st rounder some anticipated after he went in the 3rd round out of high school…Stanford 3B Alex Blandino doesn't have quite enough power to profile at the hot corner but can hit and may be able to stick at 2B, which would make him a possible top 50 prospect…Fresno St. OF Jordan Luplow plays RF in deference to Aaron Judge but can play CF professionally and has a contact approach with some looseness and pop in his swing, making him a solid top 3 round prospect…Florida is loaded with sophomores but two of the best are 2B Casey Turgeon, who has a lot of similarities to 2012 2nd rounder Nolan Fontana and RHR Ryan Harris, who was up to 96 mph on scout day and has show an improved breaking ball in the early season.

2015 Draft Prospects

- The former Lakeland-area high school flamethrower and current Vanderbilt RHR Carson Fulmer has been up to 97 recently. The Red Sox picked Fulmer in the 15th round last June and I've been told they made a serious run at him late. Fulmer's weakness is a head whack late in his delivery and limited size at 6'1, but he's athletic, commands his pitches better than anyone expects and will show three above average pitches at times. Vanderbilt commits are hard to sign away from school and Tim Corbin may have another elite performer and high draft pick on his hands and many scouts predicted Fulmer would be a tough sign out of high school and a first rounder in 2015.

Quick Hits

- Stanford CF Drew Jackson is a natural SS that will likely play there the next two seasons after Lonnie Kauppila is expected to turns pro this year. Jackson is an above average runner with a smooth swing and solid actions. He is a guy to monitor…Florida SS Richie Martin will be out the next few weeks but he's already long since impressed area scouts with his athleticism and defense. If he can make some progress with the bat in Gainesville, he has the potential to be an early first round pick…Miami has two impressive freshman that area scouts know well in SS Brandon Lopez and 1B David Thompson. Thompson is more college performer that will be a lower pick as a less athletic 1B with an uppercut swing path and some power while Lopez is a lanky shortstop with some athleticism that needs to add some strength to reach his potential at the plate. If Lopez can add some punch to his offensive game, he also could be joining Martin near the top of the 2015 draft class.

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