Draft Blog

Mon May 27, 2013

News, notes and buzz-worthy items from our Prep Baseball Report coverage area leading up to the MLB Amateur Draft on June 6-8 …

kentucky's will smith gets ... with it

By Chris Fuller
Kentucky Scouting Director

+ Will Smith, C, Kentucky Country Day HS, KY
The versatile Smith, who can play multiple positions, has begun receiving significant draft interest.  When not on the mound this spring (where he racked up 91 strikeouts in 57 IP), the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Louisville recruit has been used primarily as a catcher as pro scouts have been coming around wanting to see him behind the dish. 

Smith hasn’t disappointed, either. He was recently invited to attend a pre-draft workout in Cincinnati.  Word is that his arm strength and bat were very impressive in that workout, and he is certainly picking up more and more pro attention as we draw closer to the June draft.

For the season, Smith hit .517 with 10 doubles, 5 triples, 11 home runs, and 27 RBI. 

Illinois RHP Matt Brill

By Steve Nielsen
Illinois Scouting Director

+ Matt Brill, RHP, Moline HS, IL
Appalachian State commit. Great athletic frame, strong build, 6-foot-2, 185-pound right-handed pitcher, developed lower half. Delivery is athletic and shows repeatability, shows direction to his target, lower half works well. Arm action shows quickness, high ¾ slot, athletic arm action, loose arm. Curveball is best pitch, shows plus tendencies, true curveball, works on 11/5 plane, shows hard sharp bite when thrown at 77-79 mph, also shows the ability to command it early in counts at 72-74 mph. Curveball is as close to pro ready as we've seen, showing good depth and command-ability with swing and miss action. Fastball flashes late arm side run, shows control, pitched at 86-88 mph through four innings, touching 89 mph in the first two innings. Shows a high level of athleticism on the mound, fields position well, excellent runner as well. Brill easily has the best curveball in the state, it shows true curveball action with sharp, darting depth. His curveball is what separates him from other right-handers of similar ability showing a pro ready secondary pitch with swing and miss capabilities.

kentucky's connor heady

By Chris Fuller
Kentucky Scouting Director

Connor Heady, SS, North Oldham HS, KY
You can’t talk draft prospects in Kentucky without Connor Heady being mentioned early in the conversation.  While not physically imposing at 6-foot, 165-pounds, Heady is at once explosive and effortless. 

In February, Heady participated in the Super 60 Showcase and stood out as the top middle infielder at the event.  His feet are athletic, he takes advanced angles to the ball, and he has the ability release the baseball at any angle with accuracy and zip.  Adding Heady’s 6.6-6.7 speed to the equation makes him all the more intriguing.

Offensively, Heady shows a polished, quiet approach and the ability to spray line drives with gap-to-gap power. Heady will undoubtedly be the first high school position player in Kentucky selected in the June draft, likely going somewhere between rounds 5-10.

The hot name in illinois: RHP zach lewis

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

+ Zach Lewis, RHP, St. Laurence HS, IL
There isn’t a name being bandied about more in Illinois than the physical 6-foo-4, 210-pound Lewis. Physically strong and imposing, the right-hander has continued to draw more and more pro attention as the season has progressed. Unlike many others, Lewis seems to be getting stronger as the season extends.

Earlier in the season, we saw Lewis against Providence. His fastball sat 87-88 mph, touching 90. Recently, Lewis was up to 92 mph with late, hard life. Committed to Wabash Valley JC, Lewis very well may be the top right-handed power arm in Illinois. His secondary pitches are still a work in progress, but with his size and arm strength, he’s gaining serious traction heading into the June draft.

This season, Lewis has a 0.78 ERA with an equally impressive 0.86 WHIP. In 56.2 innings, he’s racked up 73 strikeouts and 22 walks while compiling a 6-2 record with 2 saves for the No. 2-ranked Vikings.

kentucky's hunter green and clinton Hollon

By Chris Fuller
Kentucky Scouting Director

+ Hunter Green, LHP, Warren East HS, KY, 2013
Long and extremely loose, Green’s arm works with such fluidity that it’s easy to see his velocity continuing to climb in the coming years.  The 6-foot-4, 165-pound Kentucky recruit has been dominant this spring with a fastball touching 93 mph and a 74-76 mph breaking ball with big depth.  The latest buzz on Green, ranked No. 1 in Kentucky’s 2013 Class and No. 2 overall, is that he may be off the board by the third round.

+ Clinton Hollon, RHP, Woodford County HS, KY, 2013
Long regarded as one of the top right-handed power arms in the country, Hollon has continued to dominate high school hitters this spring with a consistent 90-94 mph fastball that explodes out of his hand.  The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Kentucky recruit has shown no signs this spring of his bout with some arm soreness last fall.  The latest draft buzz surrounding Hollon, ranked No. 3 in Kentucky’s 2013 Class and No. 8 overall, is that he is likely to get selected somewhere between rounds 3-7.

illinois two-way standout ryne roper

+ Ryne Roper, SS/RHP, Harrisburg HS, IL, 2013
No player in Illinois has been in the limelight longer than Roper. Ever since he was a freshman, the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder has been earmarked as a premier prospect. And he hasn’t disappointed, either. A three-sport star at Harrisburg, he is the quarterback on the football team and was a starter on the basketball team that won a state championship.

His best sport, however, is clearly baseball. He earned PBR second-team All-State honors as a sophomore, helped Harrisburg to a runner-up finish as a freshman, earned MVP of the Midwest Future Games as a junior and, generally has been dominant his entire career.

The University of Illinois recruit is a true two-way talent in college. On the mound, he pounds the strike zone with an 87-90 mph fastball. Positionally, however, is what has drawn pro interest. The right-handed hitter has a simple, repeatable swing and has an uncanny ability to put the barrel on the ball consistently and with authority. Defensively, he plays shortstop in high school but likely projects as a third baseman at the next level. He has a plus arm from third base and has top-level hands.

Roper has been nothing short of dominant this spring. He’s batting .458 with 9 homers, 10 doubles, 4 triples and 40 RBI. On the mound, he’s 9-0, which includes two no-hitters and one perfect game. He has 91 strikeouts, 7 walks in 57 innings, with a 0.48 ERA.

big upside in Michigan rhp sterling sharp, and slater

By Mike Penn
Michigan Scouting Director

+ Sterling Sharp, RHP, North Farmington HS, MI, 2013
It appears that Eastern Michigan has signed the diamond in the rough in the Class of 2013.  Sharp has been very good this spring, primarily sitting between 87-89 mph with his fastball.  Although those numbers may not jump off the page like Jackson Lamb's 90-94 mph fastball or Corey Wilder's 89-93 mph, Sharp has some of the best upside in the class. Unquestionably Sharp will add both pounds and strength in the future.  It isn't a stretch to believe that Sharp and his long lanky 6-foot-4, 180-pound frame will throw in the low to mid-90s.  His arm is extremely free an easy, working from a high 3/4 slot.  He shows good feel for a breaking ball and is able to throw it for strikes.  Sharp has had a consistent number of scouts making their way to North Farmington. Sharp is currently ranked No. 9 in Michigan; 59 overall.

+ Johnny Slater, OF/LHP, Southfield-Lathup HS, MI, 2013
Slater continues to attract major attention this spring.  The steady stream of scouts has turned into a flood of activity.  Most recently Slater has had national cross-checker and an assistant GM in to see him.  Rumors are swirling that Slater may go between rounds 5-15. Slater is a Michigan recruit who’s currently ranked No. 8 in Michigan.

Multi-sport standout Michael Hermosillo gains ground in Illinois

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

+ Michael Hermosillo, OF, Ottawa HS, IL
Hermosillo has been one of Illinois’ bigger buzz guys over the last month. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound outfielder is unquestionably one of the state’s premier athletes. An all-state running back, he is signed to the University of Illinois to play football and baseball. Hermosillo’s athletic gifts are unmistakable on the baseball field. He broke the PBR underclass record for 60 times as a sophomore when he ran a 6.66. He was also clocked at 90 mph from the outfield, and has impressive bat-speed at the plate.

Another thing that has significantly helped Hermosillo is he’s been on fire this spring. So many times with position players, scouts can see them on a bad day. Hermosillo has not had many bad days for No. 17 Ottawa, which has been one of the spring’s biggest surprises.

Hermosillo is batting an even .500 with 11 doubles, 2 triples, 4 home runs, 27 RBI, 25 runs and 17 stolen bases. He holds a .609 OBP, .925 SLG, and a 1.530 OPS. Funny thing is, his senior numbers are a tick below what he accomplished as a junior, when he earned PBR second-team All-State honors. As a junior, Hermosillo stole 43 bases, batted .512 with 6 doubles, 5 triples, 6 homers, 30 RBI, 20 walks and 42 hits.

Hermosillo didn’t have a great showing at the Super 60 in February, but the multi-sport athlete is clearly in baseball shape now.

Slater, Lamb and Gutierrez draw interest in michigan

By Mike Penn
Michigan Director of Scouting

+ Johnny Slater, OF/LHP, Southfield-Lathrup HS, MI 2013
The 6-foot-2, 170-pound Slater has drawn a steady stream of scouts to Southfield-Lathrup HS and the surrounding area.  Slater is quickly turning into one of the most talked about players in Michigan. Despite not being looked at seriously on the mound, the University of Michigan recruit has been up to 89 mph repeatedly this spring a testament to his arm strength. Slater is most seriously considered as an outfielder.  He is an above-average runner and has shown consistent power at the plate this spring.  

 + Jackson Lamb, RHP, Bedford HS, MI, 2013
Currently ranked No. 1 in Michigan, Lamb is clearly the most intriguing player in the state. Lamb, a Michigan recruit, is an extremely athletic 6-foot-7 RHP/OF but he is still very raw and it has shown this spring.  Lamb's velocity has ranged all over the board this spring.  We have seen him sitting anywhere between 88-94 mph this spring. In a recent start, Lamb threw over 160 pitches; on his 120th pitch, his fastball still registered at 90 mph.  Lamb has yet to show a consistent breaking ball and secondary stuff.  Additionally, his command has been erratic as he has appeared to be overthrowing.  Nevertheless, the excitement around Lamb surrounds his upside because there is plenty of it.

+ Hector Gutierrez, SS/RHP, Detroit Western International HS, MI, 2013
Gutierrez continues to draw draft consideration.  Most recently his performances on the mound have garnered the most attention.  The compact 6-foot, 170-pound Michigan recruit was up to 92mph in a recent start. Last Saturday, he struggled with command early but showed why he’s one of the top high school baseball players in the state.  He sat 86-89 and bumped 90 in the first inning against Cousino while only throwing one 11/5 shaped curveball that registered 75mph.  After he settled in and regained timing with his mechanics, he flashed some late arm side run when down.  His curveball also flashed some depth.  In the pen his changeup had some sink but he only threw one during the game that registered 79mph.

missouri pitchers draw high interest

By Ethan Silverman
Missouri Scouting Director

With several potential high-round draft picks, Missouri has been a focal point in the Midwest this spring. Here’s a look at four high-profile Missouri prospects who have garnered a lot of attention:

 + Jake Brentz, LHP, Parkway South HS, MO
Currently ranked No. 1 in Missouri’s 2013 class, No. 5 overall. Missouri signee. 6-foot-2, 195-pound left-handed pitcher. Has first-round type arm, but lack of pitching experience has given scouting directors plenty to consider. Chose not to play high school baseball this spring, and, as a converted outfielder, only pitched a handful of innings as a junior. Burst onto the scene last fall, showing a fastball that climbed as high as 96 mph. Is currently pitching in the Perfect Game spring league in Iowa. Still learning how to pitch, but the arm is electric and clean.  

+ Devin Williams, RHP, Hazelwood West HS, MO
Currently ranked No. 2 in Missouri, No. 10 overall. Missouri signee. 6-foot-3, 175-pound right-hander with long, lanky, projectable frame. Like Brentz, Williams has garnered top-round interest. Possesses extremely loose and quick arm with a high ceiling. Fastball sits in the 89-92 range, reaching as high as 94. Secondary stuff can be erratic, but has shown a sharp breaking ball at times. In 34 innings, Williams has allowed seven earned runs and 13 hits with 63 strikeouts.

+ Brian Howard, RHP, St. Louis University High, MO
Currently ranked No. 3 in Missouri; No. 12 overall. Texas Christian University recruit. His 6-foot-9, 190-pound frame alone makes him a high-interest prospect. He also has the arm and pitchability. For his size, he is athletic and clean. His fastball has topped at 90 mph, and has shown the ability to throw his secondary pitches for strikes. Has developed a changeup that he now confidently throws in any count. Good rhythm, mound presence, pitches with both emotion and knowledge of situation. Has allowed four earned runs in 52 innings pitched (0.54 ERA) with 73 strikeouts and only 13 walks. Seeing his stock increase after every outing.

 + Dan Herrmann, RHP, CBC HS, MO
Currently ranked No. 7 in Missouri’s 2013 class, No. 46 overall. Bradley University recruit. Physically impressive 6-foot-4, 210-pound right-hander has drawn pro interest thanks to his explosive fastball that has been up to 94 mph this spring. Works in the low-90s, and the ball comes out hot.  His slider has shown potential to be a swing-and-miss pitch, but hasn’t harnessed it. While he has struck out 39 in 23 innings pitched, he has also walked 43. He has shown glimpses of dominance, but has also shown command issues from time to time.

bogucki main focus in Pennsylvania

By Greg Williams
Pennsylvania Director of Scouting

+ A.J. Bogucki, RHP, Boyertown HS, PA, 2013
As one of the top right-handed prospects in the country, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Bogucki carries the greatest draft potential of prospects in Pennsylvania. His fastball sat 87-90, touching 92 early in the spring, but he has been consistently 89-92 recently. The North Carolina recruit commands a 77-81 mph slider that shows hard bite, to go along with a tumbling, 11/5 breaking ball at 68-72 MPH. He has a consistent, effortless release and is able to locate both his fastball and slider with regularity. Bogucki has struck out 42 in 30 innings this spring with a 2.10 ERA. Bogucki is currently ranked No. 1 in Pennsylvania and No. 3 overall.

ohio's cory wilder

By Chris Valentine
PBR Ohio Scouting Director

+ Cory Wilder, RHP, Lima Shawnee HS, OH
Currently ranked No. 1 in Ohio and No. 2 overall. Wilder struggled in his start on Tuesday against Defiance in a game that would determine the conference champion. The right-hander did not seem like the same pitcher that we saw in Chicago or even last summer. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound NC State recruit struggled with his command and his velocity dropped in the process. In the first inning, his fastball was up to 92, but he sat in the mid to high 80's in the following three innings. His lower half lacked aggression and purpose, which limited his torque and disrupted the sequencing of his motion. On the bright side, his off-speed pitches have shown improvement since last summer and even this winter. He showed signs of an effective out pitch with a 74-76 mph breaking ball and a 79-82 mph changeup. After four and two-third innings pitched, Wilder accumulated 106 pitches with eight strikeouts and eight walks while allowing three hits. At the end of the day, Wilder is in the infancy of his baseball career. Unlike many of his peers, he has only played one year of competitive travel baseball and hasn't received consistent instruction needed to take advantage of his God-given skills. As we have seen, he clearly has the arm strength and easy arm action to draw the interest of the nation's top college programs and Major League scouts. But, he needs to continue improving his craft and find repeatability in his delivery to be successful.

zack burdi and other illinois notes

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

+ Zack Burdi, RHP, Downers Grove South HS, IL
Currently ranked No. 1 in Illinois and No. 6 overall. On Monday against Willowbrook, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound showed similar stuff as his Super 60 performance in February – a performance that made him a high-interest draft prospect. Working from a 3/4 slot, Burdi’s fastball sat 91-92 in the first inning with heavy arm-side run and sink. In the second inning, his fastball sat 90-91, and didn’t dip below 90 until the fourth. He also showed a sharp 79-mph slider with hard two-plane action, a pitch he threw for strikes early in the game. Burdi also threw a 72-74 mph curveball. He didn’t throw his changeup much, which is surprising because at the Super 60, it was a plus pitch. Burdi retired the first 10 batters he faced, seven via strikeout and five straight at one point. In the later innings, he consistently missed arm-side. He finished the game with eight strikeouts, four hits – two of the infield variety – with four walks and one hit batsman. Downers Grove South lost the game 1-0. Overall, Burdi very well may have the most electric stuff in Illinois. Harnessing it will be his key in the future.

Other buzzworthy stuff in Illinois …

+ Matt Brill, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound RHP/OF from Moline HS, has generated some draft buzz. The Appalachian State recruit has been up to 91 this spring, but typically pitches in the 87-88 range. His curveball has shown flashes of being a plus pitch. Brill was an outfielder who recently started pitching.

+ Marshawn Taylor, a left-handed hitting shortstop from Simeon HS, has gained draft traction this spring. A top-level defender, Taylor’s name has been mentioned multiple times over the last few weeks. Taylor is signed at Eastern Illinois.

ohio junior cameron varga continues to impress

By Alex Schillig
PBR Ohio Regional Scout

+ Cameron Varga, RHP, CHCA, OH, 2014
Varga had one of the most dominating performances I have ever seen.  The junior is extremely athletic at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds.  In his start he struck out fifteen in six innings allowing only two hits.  Committed to North Carolina, Varga uses a high ¾ near over the top arm slot with an extremely live arm.  He looked as good as advertised throwing a heavy 90-93 mph fastball, and occasionally topped out at 94 mph.  Varga pounded the zone with his fastball, and when ahead in the count he would run it up in the zone causing several swings and misses.  Shows excellent composure on the mound as he throws on a downward plane, and makes it look easy.  Uses a repeatable delivery.  He backs up his fastball with a devastating 78-81 mph late breaking ball with 12/6 tilt.  He showed command with this pitch as well, and would occasionally throw it three times in a row to strikeout some hitters.  At the high school level this is pitch is nearly unhittable.  Developing a changeup should be Varga’s next goal as he looks to have a promising future.

ohio's lauer, wilder and brown

By Chris Valentine
PBR Ohio Scouting Director 

Cory Wilder, RHP, Lima Shawnee HS, OH, 2013
The 6-foot-4, 205 pound senior committed to NC State showed why he will be pitching in the ACC next year in his start against Bath HS.  Wilder’s mound presence is intimidating due to his size, and how quickly the ball jumps out of his hand. Using a high 3/4 arm slot, Cory’s loose and easy arm action makes throwing 93 mph look easy.  During his start, his fastball sat 89-93 mph with run.  He featured two breaking pitches a 69-73 mph curveball, and a 79-80 mph slider.  Both pitches featured late break, but the tight slider proved very difficult on hitters.  He also threw in an 81-83 mph changeup which showed lite fading action.  At times Wilder lost command, but it never served to be a continuous problem as he was able to fix his mechanics from pitch to pitch.  Wilder also showed athleticism jumping off the mound when covering bunts.  With numerous MLB scouts in attendance, Cody had a good outing giving up one earned run and striking out nine.

+ Eric Lauer, LHP, Midview HS,OH, 2013
Ranked the number two overall prospect in Ohio for the class of 2013. The left-hander has had plenty attention of Major League Scouts in his past few outings, up to thirty at each of his starts. He has done a fantastic job of not letting any of that bother him on the mound as he has only given up one hit in his last three outings. Today, he posted another shut-out. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound athletic Lauer threw his fastball today from an easy ¾ arm angle consistently at 88-91 mph topping out at 92 mph. His slurvy breaking ball is an above average high school pitch at 75-77 mph. Has a tendency to go around it at times. I would like to see him get on top with it to show improvement for the next level. His change-up is a good third pitch that shows promise in the future at 79-82 mph. Throws all three pitches for strikes. He is still has upside and projection left which makes him a hot follow for the MLB draft in June.  

+ Cassidy Brown, C, Walsh Jesuit HS, OH, 2013
Senior catcher with strong, athletic body at 6-foot-3, 205-pounds. Feels like he has been behind the plate for Walsh Jesuit HS forever probably because it has been four years as the talented-defensive catcher has been at that spot since he was a freshman. Continues to show why he was the top catcher in the state this year. With his consistently accurate throws at a sizzling 2.0 pop time threw out two Padua HS runners trying to advance to second base. Shows good receiving and blocking skills. The right-handed hitter uses a more upright stance to get his swing started. Gets foot set down early to bring weight back for power use. 

indiana's ball and ayers drawing big buzz

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

+ LHP Danny Ayers (Columbus North HS, IN) has been one of the biggest buzz guys this spring in the Midwest. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound left-hander used his electric showing at the Super 60, when he was 89-92 mph with a 77-80 mph curveball, as a springboard this season. There’s been plenty of chatter that the Western Michigan recruit has climbed into the third-to-fifth round range. Ayers has consistently been in the 90s this spring, to go along with an impressive three-pitch arsenal. In early April, Phil Wade, PBR Indiana’s Director of Operations, saw Ayers at 89-92, and worked 88-90 in the final two innings. He racked up 14 Ks and yielded one hit, an infield single. Ayers is currently ranked No. 2 in Indiana and No. 9 overall.

+ Coming into the spring, there was plenty of discussion of what position LHP/OF Trey Ball (New Castle HS, IN) will be drafted as – pitcher or position player. Would the mixed opinions ultimately impact his draft status? Well, the super-athletic 6-foot-5, 175-pound Texas recruit has cleared up any questions this spring, as he has consistently been 91-94 with his fastball to go along with a polished changeup. Ball, who entered the spring as a potential first-rounder, has pretty much solidified his status despite pitching in overall miserable conditions.  With his consistently increased velocity, Ball is said to be moving up in the mid-to-high first-round range.

+ LHP Eric Lauer (Midview HS, OH) has gained a lot of traction this spring. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Kent State recruit became a high-interest prospect after the Super 60, when he worked 88-92 mph during his bullpen, in addition to a firm 78-79 mph curveball and 80-84 mph changeup. Lauer has been consistently in the 90s this spring, getting as high as 93 before a packed house of scouts in the crowd. Currently ranked No. 11 overall and No. 2 in Ohio.