First, a quick note on the draftbook. I’m having issues with Amazon that I’m not getting clear answers about, so it’s still TBD on when you’ll be able to pre-order the book. Thank you for your patience.
I had a chance to sneak down to San Diego for the weekend to check out the Perfect Game All-American Classic in San Diego; and I think the overall talent was a notch-above what we saw last year, particularly on the mound. I wasn’t in love with everything I saw, especially in the field, but there were some clear first-round guys that stood out over the weekend. These events are far from a perfect look — several of these kids are clearly worn down from the season and the other events — but it’s a good chance to see some of the better talents in the class face off against each other, and several players stood out over the two days I was there.
Lets start with the most “famous” bats that were in San Diego; Clovis High School’s Jacob Gatewood and Rancho Bernardo’s Alex Jackson.
I thought both guys had their good and bad over the weekend; with neither one doing anything to make me think they’re going to be eclipse Carlos Rodon as the best player in the class (spoiler alert) nor drop them out of the first-half of the first round discussion. Gatewood’s bat speed is impressive — as is the power that he generates with said bat speed — but I saw a tendency for the swing to get “wild”, and it would have been nice to see him hit something with authority the other way. I also had some defensive questions; as he showed soft hands, but the ball has a tendency to tail on him and there’s some footwork issues as well.
Jackson was a bit more inconsistent over the weekend, but if you had to ask me which player I like better now, I’d take Jackson. He’s not a catcher, but he’s got the athleticism and arm strength to be a very good rightfielder, and the bat will certainly play there with plus bat speed and above-average power. There may not be as much upside in Jackson, but I think the overall package is just a little better.
*Nick Gordon (Olympia High School; Fla.) certainly can play shortstop, and obviously has the arm strength to stick at shortstop, but I’m not in love with the swing. He has a tendency to glide, and I’m not sure he’s going to be more than a gap hitter at the next level. With a 94 mile per hour fastball and a potentially plus curveball, I think I prefer Gordon on the mound at this point.
* It was my first look at Ti’Quan Forbes (Columbia High School, Miss.) — who the scouts that I talk to have raved about — and I get the appeal; he’s got good size (6’4″, 175) and he looked good during infield with above-average speed and a strong arm. My issue was with the swing, as he drops his hands fairly significantly and negates some of the bat speed he generates.
* One name that really stood out to me that I wasn’t familiar with coming into the weekend was Stillwater High School (Okla.) third-baseman Joe Littell. Littell gets very good extension in his swing, and the bat stayed in the zone as well as any hitter I saw over the weekend. There are some very good hot corner prospects in this year’s class, but Littell might be at the top of the list for me now.
* Michael Gettys (Gainesville High School, Ga.) has as good of throwing arm as any outfielder as I’ve seen in my time doing this, and when you combine that with above-average power and 70 speed, and you get scouts to giggle like school children. With that being said, Gettys is incredibly raw, and he struggled with the breaking stuff he saw over the weekend. The talent is impressive, but it’s extremely raw.
*There aren’t a ton of left-handed bats in this year’s class, but Braxton Davidson (T.C. Roberson High School, N.C.) stood out with easy power and a smooth stroke from the left side. The issue was defensively, as he struggled making throws and I don’t see the athleticism to play right field.
Other bats that showed promise over the weekend were Carl Chester (Lake Brantley HS, Fla.), Sean Bouchard (Cathedral Catholic, Calif.) Scott Hurst (Bishop Amat, Calif.) and Darius Day (Simeon Academy, Ill.)
* There’s not much to say about Tyler Kolek (Shepard High School, Tex.) that hasn’t been said already, but I’ll try anyway. Kolek was 94-99 in his inning of work, and the two breaking balls I saw were above-average offerings. If the draft were held today, Kolek would be a lock to go in the top ten.
* Touki Toussaint (Coral Springs High School, Fla.) hasn’t been as impressive this summer as he was last fall, but the overall stuff was pretty solid on Sunday; sitting in the mid 90′s and showing a better breaking ball than he has for most of the showcase events. Unfortunately, the command is still poor at best and there’s some mechanical stuff that has to be cleaned up. The talent is immense, but there’s a lot of work to be done.
* I’ve heard nothing but good things about Grant Holmes (Conway High School, S.C.), and he was very good on Sunday for me, hitting 93 on his first seven fastballs, and showing a good change and breaking ball. The arm action isn’t the cleanest, but I think he’s one of the safer arms in this year’s class.
* There were several left-handed pitchers who stood out on Sunday, but each came with some caveats. Kodi Medeiros (Waikaea High School, Hawaii.) was very impressive with a low 90′s fastball and a slider that will give left-handed hitters fits, but the arm slot screams reliever. Mac Marshall (Parkview High School, Ga.) was 91-93, but the breaking-ball left a ton to be desired (scouts tell me it’s been inconsistent all year). Justus Sheffield (Tullahoma High School, Tenn.) has a quick arm and showed a better feel for pitching than I saw over his junior year, but at 6’0″ 185 there is only so much upside in his left arm.
* I was really impressive with Cobi Johnson (Mitchell High School, Fla.), sitting 90-92 with a very good change and above-average breaking ball. His delivery is very simple and clean, and I think there’s projection for more. Keep Johnson’s name in the back of your head as a guy who could rise up draft boards this year.
I’ll have another report after the Under-Armour Game in Chicago on August 23-25, and hopefully we’ll have draftbook stuff solved by then as well.