Justin Hite - Scout

Final 2016 MLB Draft prospect rankings, 52-102

Part two of Jeff Ellis' final top prospects ranking for the 2016 MLB Draft. Click inside to see who made the list for prospects 52-102.

http://www.scout.com/mlb/scouting/story/1674160-final-2016-mlb-draft-pro...  Here is is the second half of my final Big Board of the 2016 MLB Draft season. Now this is the first time I have ever gone to 100, but since it's me I decided to go to 102. I am one person  and I have a day job, so I will admit on a list of this size I have to rely on others. Some players on here I placed because of reports from people I know and trust well. Others I was intrigued by tools and a stat line. Yet others I watched every video I could find on them. Some players I combined all of these to get information.

I have my own approach and it is stat heavy . You will notice one big name not even on my list, is Matt Krook. I had Krook as a top ten player earlier but when your walk rate goes to nine per nine even after surgery I take that player off my board. The other issue again is I am one guy, I don’t think any other writer for a national site does these lists on their own. This also limits my ability to see certain players or go into a deep dive of smaller programs.

Lastly thank you all for reading and commenting. This year has been a lot of fun and everyone has been great.

52.  Alex Speas RHP McEachern HS (GA)


Speas reminds me a bit of Austin Smith a year ago. One might be from Georgia and the other Florida, but they are cut from the same cloth. Both are 6’4”, with easy velocity, command concerns, and no third pitch. Smith was a second rounder who got more than a million dollars a year ago and I could see the same for Speas. The question is, do you think his command can be average and will the third pitch develop? Otherwise, he is a bullpen arm. Speas is very much a risk/reward type of player.

53.  Hunter Bishop OF Serra HS (Calif.)


Hunter is the brother of Braden Bishop, who was a third-rounder a year ago on the strength of his speed, defense, and general athleticism. The younger Bishop is a name who gained so much steam late in the process that his college future changed. He went from a preferred walk-on for football at University of Washington to a baseball scholarship at Arizona. Bishop, much like his brother, is a plus athlete with excellent speed. At 6’4”, he also could develop plus power down the road. He also won’t turn 18 until after the draft. These are all reasons why he has so much growth potential. If everything hits right, a team gets a plus speed, plus power, plus defensive center fielder.

54.  Sheldon Neuse SS/P/C Oklahoma


Neuse is a two-way player for Oklahoma, who has a chance to be a super utility guy down the road. He could be a Tony Phillips type, who plays daily while giving starters a rest and still performs. With his arm and athletic ability, he could play any position outside of centerfield on a semi regular basis. He hits 90 on the mound and, with his work ethic, I think he could be moved to, and excel at, catcher. He has shown more power this year, while increasing his walk rate. Every indicator stat this year has been fantastic, and I would not be shocked to see Neuse go early in the second round, to a team like the A’s. It has been a breakout season for Neuse.

55.  Zach Jackson RHP Arkansas


Jackson finally got a chance to start this year, and the results were mediocre. I thought he had top-15 potential as a starter at the beginning of the year. I would have liked to see him get more than a five game look as a starter. His numbers were not as strong this year, but his production at Arkansas has consistently made him one of the best relievers in the country. I still think he can start, thanks to his big frame and two potential plus pitches. He needs to develop a third pitch, but since he has been a bullpen arm, his change-up is a work in progress. I know the results weren’t what everyone, myself included, had hoped for. Yet, I would think that, after just five games, it would be silly to give up on the notion that Jackson can be a starter. Now, if you did want to give up on him because of control and walk issues, I would be fine with that.

56.  Nick Solak 2B Louisville


Solak, from a numbers-only perspective, is a very impressive prospect. He is about as hard to strike out as Matt Thaiss, striking out just 18 times this year. Solak’s BABIP every single year has been high. In the conference tournament, he hit an absolute moonshot home run, which is what he has done all year when killing mistakes, though more often for hits and not homeruns. He has a polished approach at the plate, plays an average second base, has a little speed, and has hit everywhere in every situation. Yet, people who see him get stuck on the lack of tools or what he can’t do. If you look at tools alone, Solak is too high, but if you look at intangibles and production, then, frankly, this might be too low.

57.  Drew Mendoza SS/3B Lake Minneola HS (FL)


Yet another 6’4” prep shortstop who is going to move to third base. I think he is clearly the fourth-best player from the group of shortstops projected to move to third, but I am in the minority. He is a great athlete, who saw his season start late because of basketball. As a defender, his arm will challenge that of Joshua Lowe, but I don't think he has the power potential of Lowe. I also don’t think he projects to have as good of a hit tool as Carter Kieboom or Nolan Jones. Mendoza has a strong commitment to Florida State, and I could see him ending up a Seminole if he doesn't get an offer he likes.

58.  Braden Webb RHP South Carolina


Consider this positioning of Webb as a bet on growth potential. He has posted high strikeout totals all year in the SEC, as a freshman. Now, I should point out that he is a 21-year-old freshman, who suffered an injury and decided to go work at the Evoshield Academy while he got healthy. This year, South Carolina reoffered him and he burst onto the scene in his first season. He has a ton of leverage, thanks to the fact he could play for three more seasons. He also had some control issues throughout the year. He needs a lot of polish and there is a decent chance he ends up in the bullpen. But the numbers he put up in his first year in the SEC, after working out for a year but not pitching competitively, are enough to make me curious. I am sure I am not the only one.

59.  C.J. Chatham SS Florida Atlantic


Remember the three highly rated prep shortstops who are projected to have to move off short because they are 6’4”? Well, Chatham shows that is not a guarantee. Chatham also shows that in spite of size, power is not something that can also be expected to grow. He has seen a growth in power numbers this year, but power is still a well below average tool. It is his average hit tool, along with above-average defense, which should see him drafted in the top-two rounds. He plays for a small school and didn’t play well on the Cape, which has limited his draft value.

60.  Jameson Fisher 1B Southeastern Louisiana


Fisher has played just two out of the last three years, but those two years he led the NCAA in batting average. He missed all of last year, due to a labrum injury, but came back and is currently hitting .437, with a near two-to-one walk-to-strikeout ratio. He has mostly played first this year, but the former catcher could play in left field, I think. He is going to be 23 this December, and plays at a very small school, which are the negatives that limit his value. Fisher is a complete hitter, with a strong approach and at least average power. He might be a small school guy, but has been on the map since high school, and was taken by the Cubs back in 2012. I think Fisher can and will hit, and that is why I have him so high on my board. 

61.  Dane Dunning RHP Florida


You have to feel bad for Dunning. As a junior at Florida, he has been stuck behind A.J. Puk and Logan Shore, a pair of top prospects this year. Then, behind them, was Alex Faedo, who could go in the top-10 pick next year. Then there are the freshman, Jackson Kowar and Brady Singer, who could be first-rounders in 2018. It is a numbers game for the talented Dunning, who took it in stride and performed well all year. He has excellent control, rarely walking anyone in college this year. In particular, he had a 1.42 walk per nine. His fastball is a low to mid 90s pitch and is his best pitch. Since he has mostly worked from the bullpen, his secondary offerings need work. There is a chance for a starter here, one who has less miles on his arm than your typical college junior. If he were at literally any other program, outside of maybe Vandy, Dunning would have been a starter, if not the Friday starter, all year.

62.  J.B. Woodman OF Ole Miss


I know Woodman is not in the top-100 on any other list, let alone in the top 60. I took some heat a month ago, when I suggested he needed to be considered one of the top-100 players in this draft. He has had a huge breakout year as a junior. He did not play well on the Cape, and I don’t think anyone expected the numbers he has put up this year. He is a former top quarterback in the state of Florida, whose athleticism is easy to see. He also has a strong arm, which would allow him to play in right, though there are no doubts he can handle center. I think he is a late bloomer; the tools have always been there. There is a floor here of a 4th outfielder, with possibly a lot more if he continues to develop.

63.  A.J. Puckett RHP Pepperdine


Puckett might not play at a big program, but that does not make him a name to ignore. I have been following him back to his high school days. He is a former two-sport athlete, who seems to have taken a major step forward this year. He struggled in the Cape, with low strikeout totals along with high hit and walk rates. I think this might have been due to a mix of tired arm and facing better competition. He is more of a two-pitch guy right now, with a changeup that is one of the better ones in this draft. His control and command the last two years have statistically taken a step forward. If you have faith in the development of his curve, then there is a chance for a backend starter.   

64.  Ben Bowden LHP Vanderbilt


If you have a very good memory, you might remember Bowden made my first big board. Back then, he was a starter for Vanderbilt, who showed the ability to possibly be a starter long term. After a dominant Cape, I was excited for the ability of this large left-hander who could hit 95. After a few starts, he had not performed all that well and was moved back to the closer role. He has the size and pitches to work as a starter. I would try him there first, because I don’t think five starts is enough to say he can’t start. In the minors, where record does not matter, give him a nice long look, with the fallback of a back end, left handed relief arm.

65.  Reggie Lawson RHP Victor Valley HS (Calif.)


Lawson saw his season cut short, due to injury. This was unfortunate because the reports on performance stated that he did not look as strong as he had over the summer. Lawson has the stuff and ability, to the point where, if he ends up going to Arizona State, I would think he is the favorite to be the top pick in three years. He is a plus athlete, with a fastball that is clearly his best pitch. Everything else is very raw, and he comes from an area that is not known for developing MLB talent. He is going to turn 19 this summer; this, along with his rawness and injury, could see him ending up a Sun Devil.

66.  Thomas Jones OF Laurens HS (SC)


I am pretty sure that, if he wanted to, this fall Jones could also play safety on the Vandy football team. He is a two-way athlete, who decided that he wanted to focus on baseball over football. He is a plus runner, as one would expect from a kid who could have been a D1 defensive back. Jones is a future centerfielder, but I could see him as a backup next year, as he is also fairly raw, and Vandy is always deep. Going to Vandy is often a smart move -- top program, top school, and great at development. There is a lot of upside in his large 6’4” athletic frame, but it will take time and, maybe more importantly, a solid chunk of money to get Jones.

67.  Colby Woodmansee SS Arizona State


Woodmansee is an interesting player, as he has a chance to stick at shortstop and has shown at least 50 power at the position. He is not a fast guy, nor a great athlete, so he might have to move to second. Yet, the power ability being at least an average tool makes him a valuable commodity up the middle. Either position gives him the chance at a plus offensive profile, but with a below average defensive one.

68.  Pete Alonso 1B Florida


It is rare to see a first baseman this high who has not hit double digit home runs this year. If not for injury, I think he would have made it to double digits. This marks the second year in a row Alonso has missed time due to injury. He really has excelled this year for Florida, taking his offensive game to a new level. I think he has a chance for a 55 grade hit tool, but think his power is closer to a future 50 grade tool, with a chance for 55. His lack of foot speed means he is purely a first baseman, which limits his overall value and where he could end up.

69.  Carlos Cortes 2B Lake Howell (FL)


Cortes is all of 5’8” and will turn 19 by the end of June. He is listed as a second baseman most places, but there are concerns that he has no position. He has played all over the diamond, from outfield, to second, to catcher. The reports are that he has a chance to stick at catcher, which would raise his value significantly. For all the issues, Cortes has the look of a potential batting champion down the road. He is one of the best prep hitters in this class. He makes hard contact in spite of his small frame. The hit tool could be plus down the road. His size will scare off too many people, but trust in the ability here. The lack of position is a concern, but even I am more than likely under rating Cortes here. A smart team will look past size prejudice and land one of the best hitters in this class in the third.

70.  Ben Rortvedt C Verona HS (WI)


Rortvedt is only 5’11”, but if you read on him, he will often be described as a big, strong kid. In spite of his height, most project him out to have at least average power, if not plus. This power is what excites teams and what will more than likely see him drafted in day two of the draft. He has a chance to stick at catcher, though the bat could play at first if he has to move. For a strong, stocky kid he moves better than you would think and is a deceptive athlete. He had minor surgery this year, which could scare off some teams, and is yet another soon to be 19-year-old, but I would be very surprised to see him end up a Razorback. Among the prep catchers, he has the most interesting offensive profile.

71.  Hudson Sanchez SS Southlake Carroll HS (TX)


I will admit I have a weakness for up the middle players who are young for their draft class. Sanchez is one of the youngest players in the entire class and won’t be 18 until the end of October. There is some debate as to whether he is yet another high school shortstop that has to change positions, but I think he has the best chance to stay at short of any such player I have written about this far. He is a strong kid and a plus athlete. It is a lot about projection with Sanchez, in part because he is so young. I don’t think many would be surprised if he was a 55 power and hit tool guy down the road, or if he ended up a 40 hit and power tool down the road. He is raw, but the talent is there and, if he can stick at short, his bat should be a plus tool for his position way down the road.

72.  Jesus Luzardo LHP Stoneman Douglas (FL)


One has to wonder how high Luzardo would have gone if not for Tommy John surgery this spring. He was one of the most advanced prep pitchers in this class. This makes the Tommy John surgery a little less concerning than it might normally be for an arm that needed more development. His mid-90s fastball from the left side, along with an advanced feel for a slider, changeup, and curve, could have made him a first rounder. His height (at 6’1”), injury, and age (turning 19 in September) are going to cause him to slide. I still think he has a chance to go in the second, but he could be a Hurricane this fall.

73.  Brett Cumberland C California


Cumberland is a catcher in a rather loose sense of the word. One comp I was told, by Wilson Karaman (@vocaljavelins), who got it from a scout, is Ryan Doumit. They are both switch-hitting catchers whose bats will more valuable than their defensive ability. Cumberland is an advanced hitter, who works counts, and has shown surprising pop this year. I am not sure what his future position will be, but the bat will be an asset at any position on the field, or even as a DH.

74.  Dylan Carlson OF Elk Grove (Calif.)


Carlson looks like a football player, at 6’3” 195 pounds, so it is no surprise that he actually is one. He has reached 90 on the mound, as a pitcher, and moved from first to centerfield this year. He is the son of a coach and it often shows with his approach to the game. Carlson looks like a future right fielder, thanks to his arm and athletic ability. The reason he has so much late helium is his bat. He has above-average power production from both sides of the plate. He’s a scout favorite, who everyone is catching up on late. I would not be shocked to hear his name called late in round two.

75.  Akil Baddoo OF Salem HS (GA)


Yet another athletic outfielder from Georgia who has plus speed and power potential. He is not a big kid, but generates power through excellent bat speed. Baddoo is also very young for this draft and won’t turn 18 till August. On top of the natural tools are the intangibles, which are also plus. He is one of those kids who loves the game and will just outwork most other kids his age. If he goes to school, he could become a player very similar to Corey Ray in a few years.

76.  Conner Capel OF Seven Lakes HS (TX)


Earlier this year, I had a nice long chat with a scout, who provided a ton of information. He told me to check out two prep players in particular, Taylor Trammell and apel. At the time, neither had a lot of talk about them. The son of major league player Mike Capel, Conner’s best asset is his speed, which is a plus tool. He has a chance for average tools across the board, along with above average defense in centerfield. If you like your baseball players gritty, Capel is your guy during this draft. 

77.  Jeremy Martinez C USC


Martinez has become a forgotten player this year. The PAC-12 is a lot weaker than in years past, and USC is a program that hasn’t produced a top-two round player since 2012. Martinez was a pretty big name prep player back in 2012. He has played first base and catcher for the Trojans over his career. By all accounts, he is a solid defensive catcher with good receiver skills and a solid arm. He should be an asset defensively. Offensively, he has been a good enough hitter for USC to play first base for them. He strikes out at a rate on par with Thaiss, uses the entire field, and rarely swings at a bad pitch. His power numbers have gone up this year, but since he is 5’11”, it is always going to be a below-average skill. He’s a complete hitter, with a chance for a 55 hit tool, while being at least an average defensive catcher. Martinez should be rated higher. The stats show a hitter that is being extremely underrated right now.

78.  Buddy Reed OF Florida


Reed is a college junior who is still often listed among the top-20 or so players in this class. This is mainly because of the loud tools, even if we rarely see them used in game. He plays for a great program, with excellent coaches, and they have been unable to unlock his abilities. He is a big switch-hitter, with plus speed and power potential. He has not been a bad player in school, but not a good one either. He has been a solid player, but with his tools, he should be one of the best. I think he is more than likely a fourth outfielder long term, because of his speed and defensive ability. He gets ranked here because of his potential, even if it's unlikely he reaches it.

79.  Jose Miranda SS Puerto Rico


Sleeper Alert -- Miranda is not a guy who many have had a chance to see. He is another player who I was tipped off to by a scout, who raved about him. When we talked about Delvin Perez, the scout also mentioned the other shortstop there who put on a show. He said this kid could stick at short and had some power potential down the road. There is not a lot to be found on Miranda, but there is a good chance that he can be an above-average offensive player at the shortstop position. There is a chance he ends up the best shortstop out of Puerto Rico this year.

80.  Kyle Funkhouser RHP Louisville


Funkhouser, over the last month or so, has really started to pitch better. It seemed like once he was put in the Sunday role, and all pressure was taken off, he started to excel. This leads to some concern, though, that he struggled under pressure this year. He is a potential back end innings eater. The command and control issues are still there which, in turn, gives him a smaller window for error. I was not very high on him a year ago; now a year later older with no improvement and more struggles, he is even lower, in spite of the bounce back, because of limited upside.

81.  Keegan Akin LHP Western Michigan


I got to see Akin pitch earlier this year and, on that day, he was a more impressive pitcher than Eric Lauer. Akin’s fastball is a plus pitch and hit 95 the day I saw him, although it sat low 90s that day. His slider was filthy and looked like a potential plus pitch all day. I don’t think I saw solid contact against it all day. He doesn’t have much of a third pitch now, and rarely went more than six innings in a game all year. This, along with his 6’1” frame, are why most project him as a future reliever. I think he is a very safe second or third round pick, because he is going to be a good reliever, and quickly. I think he could help a team later this year. I would still give him a chance to start, but realize it might be a fool's errand.

82.  Connor Jones RHP Virginia


I know this is a shockingly low rating. Jones was projected as a possible top-10 pick to start the year. Yet, I have to admit to some rather massive concerns. The first one is that Virginia, for all of its success in college baseball, has yet to produce so much as a solid back end starter. The program has seen several top rated arms underperform or fail outright once they leave the system. The second is that, for all the talk about how good Jones stuff is, his strikeout rate is not strong at all. I worry about a guy who struggles to strike out college hitters and, all of a sudden, is expected to improve against better competition. I just can’t overcome my concerns to rate him higher on my board, even though he seems to be a consensus top-20 talent to everyone else.

83.  Lucas Erceg 3B Menlo Park


I have never heard more negative reports on a player's attitude than I have heard about Erceg. I won’t repeat the coarse language, but pretty much every report has had something negative. I am sure there are boards he has been taken off of as well. After being kicked off Cal and transferring to Menlo Park, Erceg has excelled with the bat this year. He showed power this year, and the year before at Cal, while keeping his strikeouts down. The power potential is at least 55 grade in the future. The bat is a legit asset and the main reason he is talked about as a possible second round pick. The question is how much you trust Erceg. Any team that drafts him has to be sure they can trust him to work hard and not be a problem.

84.  Nick Lodolo LHP Damien HS (Calif.)


Lodolo is a 6’6” left hander, who weighs 180. Any team drafting him does so on a hope and a prayer. It is all about projection and has very little to do with what he can do now. He hits the low 90s now, but the hope is that, when he adds some muscle, the pitch will pick up some more velocity. There is some talk that his whole approach needs refined and changed. His size and potential is going to be hard to look past. He is a long way away, but, if he can deliver, it could be special.

85.  Cole Ragans LHP North Florida Christian (FL)


Ragans is the opposite of Lodolo, a polished pitcher who has three average to above-average pitches and excellent command and control. He has a polished, clean, easy to repeat delivery, and should be quick moving for a prep arm. He is more than likely a back-end arm, and doesn’t present any plus pitches. He is likely to go in the top three rounds, to a team that prefers pitchers to high ceiling throwers.

86.  Michael Shawaryn RHP Maryland


It has been a rough year for Shawaryn, who went from a possible first rounder, to likely third, to fourth rounder. It has been a long year for him, after a big innings count at Maryland as a junior, then a full offseason with Team USA. Shawaryn struggled at points throughout the year and saw his strikeout per nine drop nearly two batters. He has had problems with consistency and velocity this year, which has helped contribute to lower strikeout totals. The question for me is whether he is just tired or if there is more to it. If you buy the theory that he just has a tired arm, then you are getting a steal late, in a possible 3/4 type of arm with three above-average pitches. If you don’t think so, then Shawaryn is a future reliever.

87.  Logan Ice C Oregon State


Ice was a draft afterthought to start the process, although his emergence should not be a big surprise. He demonstrated significant growth between his freshman and sophomore years, statistically. His defense has always been a strength, along with his plate discipline, but this year saw big improvements across the board to all facets of his offensive game. He started out very hot and cooled a bit as the year went on. Yet, he walked more than he struck out and, across the board, his offensive numbers have increased significantly. Ice might not have the upside of other players on this list, but I think he is a safe bet to be a future major leaguer in some form.

88.  Ryan Boldt OF Nebraska


At one point, I thought Boldt had a chance to be a top-10 player in the 2013 draft, before injury. I put him just below Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows as the third-best prep outfielder. Right now, he can’t hope to approach either of those players. Boldt has never developed into the player many of us hoped for or expected. He is an excellent athlete, with plus speed, but I am not sure there is a lot beyond that. He has below-average in-game power. His strikeout-to-walk this year is nearly two-to-one. For all of his tools, he should have dominated in the B1G but, instead, he was an average player. Boldt is the Buddy Reed of the Big Ten, with less impressive tools.

89.  Mario Feliciano C Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy (PR)


Feliciano is a player I think can catch, but that is far from a guarantee. He is another up the middle player who won’t be 18 for a long time. The third Puerto Rican player on my list is here because of his right-handed power potential. He doesn’t have another tool that projects out to even average right now, because of how raw he is. Yet, the potential in the bat is enough that he would still be a prospect at first but, if he could stick at catcher, then he becomes a premium talent. 

90.  Jeff Belge LHP Henninger HS (NY)


Here we have another possible high pick from the state of New York. It is a rarity to see this much possible early high school talent from New York, but Belge has been on the radar for years. We have to lead-off talking about his eye. He had a freak injury and ruptured his right eye at a young age, then had an issue with his left eye, which nearly left him blind. Everything seemed fine and Belge was considered the second-best prep left-hander on the East Coast, until he had another rupture and had eye surgery in the same eye last summer. Belge, when healthy, projects out with two possible plus pitches, the best of which is his curve. His fastball has been hitting the mid 90s since he was a sophomore, but hasn’t added much velocity since then. He needs a third pitch and needs to stay healthy. Playing up near Syracuse also means he just needs more reps. There is a chance that the eye will scare off a few teams, but lefties with power curves who hit 96 aren’t easy to find.

91.  Zac Gallen RHP North Carolina


Gallen was a known player coming into the year, as the projected Friday night starter for North Carolina. He started out the year pitching as well as anyone in the country, but cooled a bit once he entered conference play. He is not a big guy, nor does he throw hard. He just gets results. He projects out as a backend arm with a pair of above-average pitches. I think his cutter is his best pitch, although others argue it’s his fastball. A safe pitcher who has a high floor thanks to those two pitches as a high leverage reliever, Gallen should be the first UNC pitcher taken in the top three rounds since Kent Emanuel in 2013.

92.  Ryan Rolison LHP University HS of Jackson (TN)


Rolison is a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none. I am not sure he has a single trait that I would project out as plus, but he doesn’t have anything he can’t do with some proficiency. He sits in the low 90s, with a curve that is his best pitch. He has been a bit of a late riser, which is unfortunate for Ole Miss, who more than likely won’t be gaining the services of this polished lefty come the fall.

93.  Luis Curbelo SS Cocoa HS (FL)


Curbelo moved to the United States this year after growing up in Puerto Rico and being part of the baseball academy there. His best tool is his bat speed, which was part of the reason why there was a little talk about how he could be the next Carlos Correa. This might feel like a familiar story, but he is yet another shortstop expected to move to third or second. Curbelo has had a rough spring, instead of capitalizing on the great summer. He has been sliding on boards and looks like a likely 3-5 round talent

94.  Bo Bichette 2B Lakewood HS


Yes, he is the son of Dante, and has the baseball smarts you would expect of a kid who grew up around the game. His bat speed is some of the best in the draft but, at some points, it feels like he thinks he can hit anything because of it. Thanks to his bat speed, he also has some power potential, in spite of his size. There are questions about his hit tool and where he will play at the next level. Some people love him, others think he will struggle like his brother. I think there is a chance for an average defensive second baseman with some pop and low on base percentages, a.k.a. a bit of a poor man’s Brandon Phillips.

95.  Skylar Szynski RHP Penn HS (IN)


Szynski is the top prep arm in Indiana this year. He is a 6’2” right-hander, which is right on the edge of being viewed as undersized. He isn’t overpowering, but has a solid feel for three pitches. Szynski had had issues with command and control and, because of this, he might end up in the bullpen. He is a more now pitcher rather than a stuff pitcher. This is not to say that he is a finished project, but rather that what a team needs to work on is his overall delivery and repetition of it. I think he is a 3/4 type down the road.

96.  Adam Laskey LHP Haddon Heights (NJ)


It feels like Belge, Rolison, and Laskey are all grouped together as a tiered group of East Coast pitchers. One could add in Braeden Ogle, as well, who just missed my list. Laskey is the other lefty prep pitcher in New Jersey this year. Most years, he would be the top guy, but that has not affected him in the least. He sits low 90s, with a feel for a change and a slider. Both pitches should be at least average in the future. The change-up, in particular, could be his best pitch down the line. He is viewed as a harder sign because he is a Duke commit. As a cold weather left-hander with some projection and polish, Laskey should be swooped up and signed this June.

97.  Cooper Johnson C Carmel Catholic HS (IN)


Johnson is a catcher, of that there is no doubt. The question is, will he ever hit enough to be a regular starter or just a backup? He is right up there with Sean Murphy for the top defensive catcher in this class, but I don’t really see much offensive upside. High school catchers are the riskiest players in the draft, and I don’t feel comfortable taking one who projects as a very good backup, or third division starter, before the fourth round. I will admit there is gold glove potential here, but the bat needs significant growth.

98.  Nick Banks OF Texas A&M


It is hard to believe that, a year ago, Banks was being talked about as the top college hitter in this class. Then he struggled with injuries and consistency all year and, while he had a nice SEC tournament, it is just too little, too late. Banks was always a bit of a tweener, not a centerfielder but not big enough with a power profile teams often look for in the corners. A strong hitter who should have an above average hit tool, he might decide to try a path like Funkhouser or Kyle Cody by returning for his senior year to re-establish his value if he gets low-balled.

99.  Kyle Cody RHP Kentucky


Cody was a second rounder last year, and he has a chance to be one again this year. He is a big kid with good velocity but, despite stuff that has left people raving, his performance has never matched up. There was a point where, as a junior, he was talked about as a potential top-10 pick, because of his fastball and size. My problem is that it’s two years later and I still see the same pitcher he was then. I don’t understand how he misses so few bats. I think he might be better off in the bullpen long term because, if his stuff were to play up, he could be something special as a closer down the road.

100.                 Ryan Zeferjahn RHP Seaman HS (KS)


Zeferjahn marks the third high school player from Kansas on my list; more on this to follow. Zeferjahn got a late start to the year because of basketball. He was second team all-state on the court, but his future is clearly on the diamond. He is an athletic pitcher, who has had a lot of helium this spring, thanks to reports of improved command. He has been able to hit 95 with regularity all year. The reason he is this low, despite the athleticism and the velocity, is that his mechanics need a lot of work. They might need to be re-done. His pitches, outside of his fastball, are aspiring to be average someday. There is a good chance he is a reliever down the road, but the upside of a mid-rotation starter is also present, if everything gets ironed out.

101.                 Nonie Williams SS Turner HS (KS)


Williams makes the fourth player from the state of Kansas on my list. The state of Kansas has never had more than one high school player taken in the first three rounds, and never more than two in the first five. Williams gives them a chance at doubling this, making this the greatest baseball class in the history of Kansas high school baseball. He is a home schooled kid who reclassified to be eligible for this class. Williams is an LSU commit and, while some think he might be able to stick at short, many more think third is in his future. He doesn’t present any loud tools, but is a solid, steady player who has a chance to be a starter at multiple positions on the infield.

102.                 Kep Brown OF Spartan Methodist (SC)


A year ago, I was a lot higher on Brown, but I could not drop him from my list altogether this year, for the same reasons I was a fan a year ago. He has big time plus power projection. He hit double digit home runs this year, but his walk to strikeout ratio was not good. The big time power is still present, but the contact and plate discipline are still big concerns. I have no clue where Brown wants to sign, but I am sure that he wants to. I expect to see him drafted and signed this year, and whatever team does that will have a player who is instantly one of the biggest home run threats in their entire system.  


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