2014 MLB Draft Preview: Prep Pitchers

Kiley's been all over the country this season and has been talking to scouts about players for months. He's collected a number of notes on prospects for the 2014 MLB Draft and while it's still very early, he shares what he's got as we take a peek ahead.

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Draft Central & Complete Site Archive

Initial First Round Mock Draft & Full Draft Order

Top 111 Draft Prospect Rankings & Scouting Reports 1-50 & 51-111

Marginal Prospects Podcast: Interview with Jim Callis of Baseball America

Draft-Focused Chats: May 8th & May 16th

2014 MLB Draft Previews: College Pitchers, Prep Pitchers, College Hitters, Prep Hitters

Before I jump into the draft bunker completely and start pumping out regional previews, scouting reports, etc. every day until the draft, I thought this would be a good time to take a step back and look forward. While I've been touching base with scouts and industry insiders all season about the 2013 draft, I've also been collecting notes on 2014 and 2015 draft prospects as well. They've now piled up and it's best to offload what I have so far. Keep in mind this is obviously incomplete information at this very early juncture, but this is a good look at many of the top names and how the class looks as a whole. This is part three of a four-part preview split up by college/high school and hitters/pitchers of the top prospects for the 2014 MLB Draft.

Granted this is an early preview, but it looks like the strength of the 2014 draft class will be the prep talent and the pitcher class has already shown it's depth. RHP Touki Toussaint is the top player in the class and hit 97 mph in a heavily-scouted Jupiter tournament last October. LHP Mac Marshall has been up to 94 with above average stuff for an Atlanta power that's had two first round picks the last two years, so he's been seen a lot. RHP Dylan Cease, another Atlanta-area arm, was seen up to 96 mph in a heavily-scouted NHSI tournament this spring as were lefties Justus Sheffield and Brady Aiken. The top of this group already looks better than this year's prep arm class across the board and there's still a lot more names that can emerge.

Definite 2013 first rounders Hunter Harvey and Phil Bickford were still largely unknown until late in the summer and didn't become first rounders until this spring. This is obviously much more difficult to do with high school players rather than college players. I'm ranking guys on their stuff, frame and athleticism, but when it's close, I side with projection and age as there's still a lot of development to come.

Pos High School Ht/Wt Commit Age
1. Touki Toussaint
RHP
Coral Springs Chr. (FL)
6'3/185
None
18.0
2. Grant Holmes
RHP
Conway (SC)
6'2/205
Florida
18.2
3. Michael Gettys
RHP
Gainesville (GA)
6'1/195
Georgia
18.6
4. Mac Marshall
LHP
Parkview (GA)
6'2/185
Georgia
18.4
5. Dylan Cease
RHP
Milton (GA)
6'2/180
None
18.4
6. Brady Aiken
LHP
Cathedral Catholic (CA)
6'3/205
UCLA
17.8
7. Justus Sheffield
LHP
Tullahoma (TN)
6'0/190
Vanderbilt
18.1
8. Ryan Castellani
RHP
Brophy Prep (AZ)
6'4/200
UCLA
18.2
9. Sean Reid-Foley
RHP
Sandalwood (FL)
6'3/205
Florida St.
18.8
10. Grant Hockin
RHP
Damien (CA)
6'3/195
UCLA
18.3
11. Michael Kopech
RHP
Mount Pleasant (TX)
6'3/195
None
18.1
12. Bennett Sousa
LHP
Benjamin (FL)
6'3/180
Virginia
19.2
13. Kyle Marsh
RHP
Spruce Creek (FL)
6'1/175
UCF
18.2

Coral Springs Christian HS righty Touki Toussaint is both the biggest name and best player in this prep pitcher class. I heard about him as a sophomore and managed to see him in a tournament that featured some worthwhile prep seniors, speaking with him and his coach and filing away his name for later. He was 88-92 mph featuring a deep curveball with tight rotation that flashed plus along with a long, lanky frame and loose arm action. I actually saw a scouting director later that same day at a start of eventual 2012 Padres sandwich rounder, Orlando prep RHP Zach Eflin, where I told him about this 2014 prospect with a funny name that I knew would add velo and be an elite prospect. I happened to be standing next to that same scouting director last October in Jupiter when Toussaint took the mound and hit 97 mph; I got a literal and figurative pat on the back.

Toussaint worked 92-95 mph at his best in Jupiter, hitting 97 and flashing a 65 or 70 curveball on the 20-80 scouting scale (50 is major league average). I spoke to a scout that saw him this spring who said he was 91-94 mph with plus life and the same breaking ball. Touki will have some issues with command and doesn't really throw his changeup much (with good reason), so there are some things to work on, but this kid is young for his class at 17 until just before the draft, and is without question a very rare talent. There were actually some rumors that he would try to enter this year's draft, where he would've likely been a top 10 pick and matches up well with Texas prep RHP Kohl Stewart, a likely top 5 overall pick.

Grant Holmes isn't big (6'1 or 6'2) and is a righty that doesn't have much projection to offer, but his stuff and command are already so advanced, he doesn't need to get much better to find himself in the top half of the first round. I talked to a couple scouts that ran into him this spring and they both raved. He works 91-93 and hits 95 mph with some life to his fastball, backing it up with a very hard 80-81 mph curveball that's a 60 or 65. Holmes isn't just a pure power guy, either, as his changeup and command both showed above average potential.

The next three players all hail from the Atlanta area, which seems to be loaded with first round types every year and 2014 is no different. Michael Gettys has a similar athletic but not overly projectable frame to Holmes and has also been up to 95 mph this spring with some feel for offspeed pitches as well. I saw him face Travis Demeritte this year (he didn't pitch) and I was surprised how good his swing was and how athletic he was offensively, though he's a much better prospect on the mound.

I scouted Mac Marshall earlier in the year and had heard he was a lefty in the low 90's but was shocked at how good his stuff was. Against a loaded Venice HS lineup, Marshall showed first round flashes, reaching back for 94 and sitting 89-91 mph with a curveball that flashes above average to plus potential at 75-77 mph. Marshall also showed potential for an above average changeup at 79-82 but there it was an inconsistent pitch and there are some balance issues with his delivery. This can cause his stuff to be inconsistent and to live up in the zone too much. It's also worth noting that Marshall can get very animated on the mound.

There was buzz leading up to the NHSI where I scouted Dylan Cease that he had recently hit 96 mph and he replicated that velo at the major tournament. Cease also isn't huge and his velo dropped off some in later innings, but sitting 92-94 and hitting 96 early with an above average 75-76 mph curveball at age 17 gives you a lot to like about the uncommitted prospect.

Brady Aiken was another big underclassman name to see at NHSI and on day one when 2013 LHP Stephen Gonsalves pitched, Aiken showed some athleticism, a good swing and a plus arm in right field despite having below average foot speed. On day two, Aiken sat 88-91 mph, hitting 93 mph early and losing a tick or two later in the outing. He used a 71-74 mph curveball as his main off-speed pitch and it was inconsistent but flashed above average potential while his changeup was average. Aiken has good feel for his delivery and command so I think there's more development despite lacking much physical projection. I also give him the benefit of the doubt over some prospects that show more now stuff since he doesn't turn 18 until over a month after the draft and is still growing into his big frame.

Justus Sheffield is yet another big name that was at NHSI but he's more known than some prospects that entered the national stage at NHSI as his older brother Jordan and he had coming-out parties the previous October in Jupiter. Jordan hit 98 with an above average curveball in a relief inning of his younger brother while Justus worked 90-93, hitting 94 mph with above average stuff from an athletic delivery. While he's young for the class, I have Justus a little below some other prospects with less current stuff as he is maxed-out physically and is one of those prospects that hit his physical and baseball ceilings early. He looked like one of the best players in the class at 16 and 17 years old as he had the most stuff, but his bigger peers are growing into their higher upside. Sheffield sat 89-92 and hit 93 in Cary, NC with an above average slurve at 78-79 mph, a solid average changeup at 77-79 and solid average command of his stuff. I could still see Justus going in the first round and his ceiling is three pitches and command all above average, but he doesn't have the potential plus stuff some of his peers could develop.

Rounding out the top 13 are a handful of arms that I haven't seen yet but have heard plenty about the past year. Grant Hockin reminds me some of UC Irvine righty Andrew Thurman (a top 50 prospect for this year's draft) as a 6'3, athletic righty with good feel to command his stuff from a smooth delivery. Hockin sat 89-92 mph with his fastball for me in Jupiter with a curveball that flashes above average potential. I talked to a four corners scout early this year that said the best prospect in his area might be Ryan Castellani, a projectable, athletic righty that's been up to 94 mph and has two-way ability. He's a little more physical version of Hockin, a fellow UCLA commit, with a slightly higher upside but a little more stiffness to his delivery.

A name I've heard a good bit while scouting games in Florida is Jacksonville-area RHP Sean Reid-Foley, who's been flashing power stuff up to 95 mph that some scouts think could get into the first round. Michael Kopech is the next in a long line of projectable power arms from the Lonestar state and he flashes bigtime potential with a broad-shouldered projectable 6'4 frame. That said, Kopech has some effort and east-west to his delivery that affects command and feel for his offspeed while also creating some deception and life to his pitches. Wrapping things up in the Sunshine state are LHP Bennett Sousa and RHP Kyle Marsh. Marsh is another guy like Justus Sheffield that was a name early in his career due to reaching his potential early with an above average fastball-curveball combo, but is limited physically, has an arm-heavy delivery and missed the second half of his spring season with a knee injury. Sousa turns 19 a couple months before the draft but a scout passes along that the athletic lefty has been sitting 90-92 mph this spring with a very good swing and some feel for a solid average changeup.

Others Of Note

Hanover HS (VA) righty Derek Casey was impressive in Jupiter, where the 6'2 Virginia commit with an aggressive delivery hit 93 mph with command of three pitches. North Bumcombe HS (NC) lefty Alex Destino is a South Carolina commit and a 6'3, athletic lefty with three pitches that's been into the 90's this spring and has some buzz. Cincinnati Hills HS (OH) 6'3 righty Cameron Varga used to be at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL before moving up north and is very old for his class, turning 20 two months after the draft. That said, the North Carolina commit shows two-way potential as an athletic shortstop with some power potential but he wants to be a pitcher and sits in the low 90's with an advanced changeup.

Lawrence HS (KS) massive 6'7, 265 pound righty Bryce Montes De Oca worked 93-95 mph for an inning in Jupiter before the Missouri commit settled in at 91-93 mph. He isn't incredibly athletic but if he grow into more feel for his delivery, there's a lot of potential. Regis Jesuit HS (CO) David Peterson is a smooth, projectable 6'6 lefty that's been into the low 90's and will show three pitches but the Oregon commit will often sit in the mid-to-upper 80's. White County HS (GA) righty Spencer Adams was also good in Jupiter as the Georgia commit has a projectable 6'4, 175 pound frame and a clean arm action that sits in the upper 80's and has hit 92 mph with a three pitch mix and some feel. Two other projection arms that live in the upper 80's but show the frame and arm action for more are Christian Brothers HS (TN) 6'5, 225 pound RHP John Wesley Ray, an Ole Miss commit and Norwell HS (IN) 6'3, 200 pound RHP Jonah Patten, an Arkansas commit that comes from the same high school that produced the 2007 draft's 9th overall pick, current A's righty Jarrod Parker.

I'll lump the rest of the names I've heard in Florida together in what looks like a big recovery for the state's prep talent from a down 2013 crop. North Florida Christian LHP Carson Sands is also turning 19 before the draft like Sousa but the 6'3, 205 pound FSU commit already shows a low 90's fastball and solid average breaking ball. Mitchell HS Cobi Johnson is also committed to the Seminoles and the 6'4, 180 pound righty flashes a solid average breaking ball and will get up to 91 mph but all that athletic projection could bring a lot more. Florida State has two more solid prospects committed in West Orange HS righty Andrew Karp and George Jenkins HS righty Drew Carlton. I saw Carlton as a sophomore face eventual Mets draftee RHP Robert Whelan and work in the high 80's, hitting 91 with advanced command of average stuff and some projection to his 6'2 frame while Karp has some projection at 6'2 and sits 88-92 with a hard breaking ball but less feel than Carlton. Steinbrenner HS righty Cole Gordon got some attention early in the season for a start against 2013 draft eligible RHP Brett Morales, where the 6'6 uncommitted Gordon hit 90 mph and flashed an average slider, but his arm action is a little awkward.


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