2013 MLB Draft: Top 15 High School Prospects
2013 MLB Draft: Top 15 High School Prospects
The 2012 MLB Draft class is full of talent from top to bottom, with several high school prospects across the country making a mark, and likely to be drafted in the early rounds -- many in the first round. This year's class is heavy on pitching talent -- specifically southpaws -- and strangely enough, contains the deepest pool of catching talent in years.
There are several guys with MLB bloodlines in our list of Top 15 High School Prospects whose family lineage suggests future success and others who have worked their way up from relative obscurity into being mentioned among the nation's elite talents.
It's always variable whether guys that appear to be can't miss prospects in high school actually end up making a measurable impact in the majors, but this group has several guys that fit this mold, that have the combination of skills that suggest a big league future someday. As we all know, however, baseball is just as much about luck and fortune as it is skills.
Here's our list of the Top 15 High School Prospects in the country. Enjoy!
Matt Krook - LHP - San Francisco, California
If anyone has raised their draft stock in the course of the past year, it’s Northern California southpaw Matt Krook. Prior to the 2012 Area Code Games, Krook was known more for his range as an outfielder and ability at the plate -- where he has consistently hit in the upper .300 during his time in high school ball -- than his prowess on the mound.
Krook’s commitment to pitching was initially questioned somewhat, but he has blossomed in the past year, throwing a 94-95 mph fastball combined with a solid upper 70s hook which some scouts are describing as the best among this year’s pitching class. Krook is recognized as a first-class athlete, first and foremost, that could be molded into an MLB-caliber pitcher by the right coaching and developmental staff and that should be plenty for him to be among the first 15 high schoolers taken.
Hunter Green - LHP - Bowling Green, Kentucky
At 6’4”, 160 pounds Kentucky lefty Hunter Green has a huge frame to grow into, and that fact alone is scary -- in a good way. While he isn’t the hardest thrower in this year’s crop of high school pitchers -- typically topping out in the upper 80s -- his fluid and loose arm motion has earned praise from scouts across the country, with some noting he has more upside than guys at the top of the board in his same category. Green also features a hard-cutter which looks a lot like his fastball and a solid combo of a curve and change he can use to mix things up. While he’s committed to Kentucky to play in 2014, if he goes high enough in this summer’s draft that could change in an instant.
Billy McKinney - OF - Plano, Texas
Plano West outfielder Billy McKinney is one of two Texans in this year’s top 15 high school prospects and has an interesting skill set which has turned the heads of scouts across the country. At 6’1”, 195 pounds McKinney is perhaps built more like a linebacker than a prototypical MLB outfielder, but what he may lack in athleticism, he makes up for with one of the best bats in this year’s draft class.
The polished nature of McKinney’s swing has many projecting him to be a solid fourth outfielder in the pros, a guy that will never post gigantic numbers -- unless his power improves, that is -- but will also be indispensable as a quality pinch hitter and solid fill-in replacement when needed. He may not be one of the shiniest prospects in this year’s draft, but according to most, he’s one of the most likely to succeed.
Phil Bickford - RHP - Westlake Village, California
Looking like the prototypical California surfer guy, Westlake Village prospect Phil Bickford proves that looks can be uber-deceiving. At 6’4”, 200 pounds Bickford is an imposing presence on the mound that consistently overpowers hitters with a plus fastball, that at its best, has been clocked in the upper 90s. A Cal State Fullerton signee, many believe that Bickford could be taken in the first round of the amateur draft class if the right team is in place to make a pick, given his overall dominance in high school where a ridiculous K/BB ratio highlighted his stat sheet. The verdict’s still out on what it would take for Bickford to choose the draft over the Titans, but we’ll all find out soon enough.
Hunter Harvey - RHP - Catawba, North Carolina
One of the better prospects in the always baseball-rich South, is North Carolina right-hander Hunter Harvey. The 6’4”, 180 Harvey has been touted as a prospect with a “projectable body” -- baseball speak for “upside” -- that throws consistently in the upper 80s to low 90s and mixes in some plus off-speed stuff as well to keep hitters honest.
Harvey certainly has the bloodline which would suggest future success as his father Bryan Harvey played 10 seasons in the majors with the California Angels and Seattle Mariners and his brother Kris also being selected in multiple amateur drafts. Harvey has expressed a desire to go straight to the pros, with college apparently only an option if his draft position is too low.
Jon Denney - C - Yukon, Oklahoma
Many consider Yukon, Oklahoma John Denney to be the most talented in an accomplished pool of catchers in this year’s high school class. At 6’2”, 205 Denney has a great catcher’s build and the body type that suggests he could endure the daily grind of the pro game. Scouts note he has some work to do on the defensive side of the plate, but his offensive game is already fine-tuned with a solid power stroke and ability to hit for average.
Denney is nominally committed to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2013, but as we all know, those commitments are soft at best. It’s never a sure thing that a catcher will continue through the minor league ranks as a catcher without being changed to a new position -- especially if they have Denney’s hitting ability -- but it certainly appears he could be one of the game’s bright new stars behind the plate if all things stay equal and his improvement in the next couple of seasons is consistent.
Rob Kaminsky - LHP - Montvale, New Jersey
Definitely the best pitcher, and perhaps the best overall player on the East Coast, is Montvale, New Jersey southpaw Rob Kaminsky. At 6’0”, 190 Kaminsky has a compact frame which compliments his fluid motion, allowing him to consistently throw in the low-to-mid 90s and mix in the occasional curveball in a two-pitch mix which serves him well.
There will be a short-term need for Kaminsky to develop a third pitch to keep hitters on their toes, but a solid two pitch mix like the one he possesses will be plenty for him to move through the ranks in the next few seasons. The verdict’s out on whether Kaminsky will land as a starter or a first-tier reliever down the road, but there seems to be little variance in the notion that the big leagues are in his future.
Nick Ciuffo - C - Lexington, South Carolina
Another in the class of talented catchers this summer is Lexington, South Carolina’s Nick Ciuffo. The left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing catcher fits the mold of what you would expect from a pro prospect behind the plate. His skill set, in many ways, is the polar opposite of most other catchers his age given he has an advanced skill set defensively and his hitting is a work in progress. An early commit to South Carolina at the age of 14, Ciuffo along with the No. 4 prospect on our radar should be the first two catchers taken, and could land in High A or AA ball by later summer if he chooses to go that route and not play for a while in Columbia.
Ian Clarkin - LHP - San Diego, California
In a 2013 draft class full of quality left-handed pitching prospects, San Diego’s Ian Clarkin is the best. At 6’1”, 190 Clarkin is proving that pure size isn’t everything, with a frame that could easily pack a punch down the road as he develops. While he consistently hits in the mid-90s, it’s his plus-plus hook that constantly raises eyebrows, described by one scouting report as “unfair”. Clarkin also has a change-up in development that could make his arsenal one of the best in this year’s class, projecting him as a mid-tier starter in the pros someday.
J.P. Crawford - SS - Lakewood, California
Yet another Golden State prospect is shortstop J.P. Crawford, whose pedigree is bar none. MLB All-Star “Captain” Carl Crawford is his uncle and his dad, Larry was a star defensive back for the Iowa State Cyclones and in the Canadian Football League. While his game may not have the fine-tuned polish of some shortstop prospects at his age, what he lacks in polish is made up for many times over in pure athleticism.
Crawford’s outstanding straight-line speed is coupled with a solid glove and great range. His ability to cover plenty of ground up the middle is perhaps his greatest attribute. The fine-tuned skills may be a work in progress, but there’s no doubt J.P. Crawford has the physical ability to be one of the next great middle infielders assuming everything continues to fall into place.
Dominic Smith - 1B - Gardena, California
While his most natural position is at first, California mega-prospect Dominic Smith is hardly limited just there. The 6’1”, 200 pound athlete has played multiple positions over the past few years of high school and summer competition including first, outfield and even some catcher – a flexibility that makes him one of the most attractive high school players available in this summer’s draft. Smith has even pitched some, throwing in the lower 90s in brief appearances, although it’s unlikely he would project there on the next level. Regardless of who drafts him, or what position they develop him into, Dominic Smith will make a quick impact at the next level.
Reese McGuire - C - Covington, Washington
In a class loaded with talented backstops, Reese McGuire is the crown jewel. A left-handed hitting prototypical catcher at 6’1”, 190, McGuire has polished defensive skills and great power with the bat – a coveted combination which is rare, but highly valued at the next level. His 1.8 “pop” time is the best in this year’s class, and a sign of great things to come in terms of his overall defensive development as time goes on. Comparisons are being made to Houston Astros catcher Jason Castro which certainly appear apt.
Trey Ball - LHP - New Castle, Indiana
Indiana southpaw Trey Ball is undoubtedly the best of the high school lefties in the 2013 class and has the potential to be a game-changer in the very near future. At 6’6”, 175 Ball has the projectable frame which pro scouts love, with wide shoulders and a strong base which could easily allow him to pack on muscle without there being any adverse effect to his pitching mechanics.
As it is, Ball hits around 93 mph consistently with his fastball and has a plus change and slider to compliment his heater. Committed to the University of Texas, it’s still up in the air what Ball will do, but projections have his signing bonus likely to land around $3 million, an amount that would be awfully hard to pass up for a Longhorns team that has struggled over the past few seasons.
Kohl Stewart - RHP - Houston, Texas
It could be argued that there hasn’t been a better pro prospect in the Lone Star State in some time than Houston St.Pius X flamethrower Kohl Stewart. With a slender 6’3” frame, Stewart has plenty of room for physical growth, something that is wowing scouts given where his pitching game already stands. His mechanics, while raw and relatively unpolished, have led to a plus plus fastball which has topped out at 97 mph and consistently lands in the low-to-mid 90s.
Stewart compliments this fastball with a tight slider that typically falls between 86-88 mph and has been described by several scouts as already being a plus pitch. Perhaps the most interesting element in Stewart’s story, is that he is also a highly-recruited college quarterback who has received offers from the Texas A&M Aggies – where he has committed to play baseball – and the Florida Gators. In short, Kohl Stewart has a multitude of options ahead of him and a decision to make this summer that regardless, will lead to a positive and bright future.
Clint Frazier- OF- Loganville, Georgia
Loganville, Georgia outfielder Clint Frazier is our top MLB high school prospect for 2013. The 6’1” Frazier has it all: strength, speed, power and ability to hit for average, a great glove and great arm. Dare I say, he’s a five-tool guy, as little as I like to ever use that worn-out phrase which so rarely holds water. If there’s anywhere Frazier could see improvement it would be in pitch selection at the plate, but otherwise the bat skills he enjoys are far above the mean of players in the 2013 class. It could be argued that Clint Frazier isn’t just the best high school player in the draft, but the best prospect overall. That says all it needs to say.