Every year there are showcase events that allow amateurs to put their skills on display. Top talents square off against each other and many players move up draft boards quickly with good performances. I had a chance to see some of the top prep talent in the country earlier this summer at the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field. Based on what I saw in that game and other information I’ve gathered, I put together a list of five prep names to know heading into 2010:
A.J. Cole, RHP, Oviedo HS, FLWith a 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame, Cole is one of the prototypical high school pitchers that teams can dream on. He still could add some muscle to his long and lean frame and add a few MPH to his already 90-94 fastball that touches 98 – with some run. He has a 77-80 MPH curve but it’s inconsistent, similar to most high school pitchers. It has tight spin and has the potential to be a plus pitch. He has a changeup but hasn’t had to use it much. Cole has good poise on the mound, clean mechanics and the tools to be a top prospect and a frontline starter if all things go right. His biggest weakness is polish; the rest is there. I expect him to be the first or second high school pitcher taken in the draft. He has a verbal commitment to Miami.
Jameson Taillon, RHP, The Woodlands HS, TX
Taillon (pronounced Tay-own) is a big 6-foot-6, 200-pound righty from the same high school that produced top prospect Kyle Drabek in 2006. He is a definite presence on the mound and reinforces it with his 92-93 mph fastball that tops out at 96 with late life. He stays on top of his pitches and uses his leverage well. His spike curve is flat out filthy at 77-83 mph. He does telegraph it but that is correctable. He mixes in a mid 80’s slider that is not as impressive as his curve but it works. My guess is that he will drop his slider in pro ball but it could be a useful tool if the team that drafts him wants him to use it occasionally. His mechanics aren’t as clean as Cole’s but I don’t see any major red flags. He rushes his delivery some times causing his arm to drag. He has committed to Rice, but I would be shocked to see him get there, as he should be a top 10 pick – and likely will be the first or second high school pitcher taken.
Nick Castellanos, 3B, Archbishop McCarthy HS, FLA
Castellanos is moving up draft boards with his smooth swing, strong hands and great bat speed. This kid can hit. His swing is quick and short, has power to all fields and can hit line drives all over the place. I don’t foresee him leading the league in homers or anything, but could hit 20-25 with a .300-.320 average. He is a strong guy at 6-foot-3, 195 pound and is athletic for his size. He has a strong arm and I see no reason why he won’t be a solid defender at third base. Castellanos is an intelligent ball player and has good instincts, so his average speed plays up. None of his tools will blow you away alone, but he is a great ball player and polished for a high school player. Like Cole, he’s committed to Miami.
Austin Wilson, OF, Harvard-Westlake HS, CA
Wilson is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound physical specimen. He is very athletic and projectable and could develop into an absolute monster. He has raw power to launch 500-foot blasts in batting practice to all fields but is erratic translating it to games. He crushed a ball well into the stands in left field in the Under Armour game at Wrigley Field. He’s overly aggressive at times and will have to learn when to unleash his power. He has a cannon for an arm, probably a 65-70 on the 20-80 scale which will make him a very good defensive right fielder along with his athletic ability. He has average running speed and better under way. He has the choice of going to Stanford or Vanderbilt and as far as I know hasn’t officially committed to either yet.
Stetson Allie, 3B/P, St. Edward HS, Lakewood, Ohio
Stetson Allie is a unique player. He can throw 100 MPH and has a fresh arm, as he’s only been a closer for his high school team. He prefers to play third base, though. There isn’t any projection in Allie as he is a 6-foot-4, 235-pounder. His fastball sits 94-95 mph and has an 89 MPH slider. He has a change but doesn’t need it at this level. His slider is very raw and is more of a thrower than a pitcher at this point, but his arm strength is elite. As a third baseman, he is an adequate defender, although he may outgrow the position. He has a good eye at the plate and hits the ball hard with quick hands and upper body strength. I think he has the skills to be a top pick no matter which position he plays but he will need a lot of work to reach his ceiling, whichever he chooses. He will be interesting to watch next spring to see if he becomes a clear cut third baseman or a pitcher. His coach plans on putting him in the starting rotation this spring. He is committed to North Carolina.
Read more from Matt Garrioch at www.milbprospects.blogspot.com.