MLB Draft Blog
Top 10 prospects from Jupiter showcase
November, 7, 2012
By Kiley McDaniel
Courtesy of Gregg Forwerck/USA Baseball
Austin Meadows could be the top prep prospect in the 2013 draft.
I covered the four breakout prospects of the WWBA World Championships in the previous post, but in this one I'll go more rapid fire in breaking the best prospects of the event. Most of the top hitters in the class participated, but many of the top arms didn't show due to workload, injuries or football commitments. The players from the last post wouldn't make the top 10, but Josh Hart, Terry McClure and Billy McKinney would all be in the 10-15 range.
1. Austin Meadows, CF, Grayson (Ga.) HS
Fellow Georgia prep center field prospect Clint Frazier didn't come to Jupiter and scouts are split on which prospect is atop their boards. Both can stick in center and the tools are comparable but Meadows is bigger (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and stronger while Frazier offers better performance. Meadows was okay at the event (3-for-11, triple, stolen base) but had some trouble with off-speed stuff and hard stuff away. The ceiling is still huge and it's way too early to write him off.
2. Justin Williams, RF, Terrebonne (La.) HS
Williams came into the event as one of the top prospects in the class and performed fairly (2-for-9, double, homer, walk, stolen base), but consistently showed big raw power and an ability to go the other way. He's athletic enough to stick in right and takes a direct path to the ball with raw strength, bat speed and a high finish creating the power. Williams is a potential monster middle-of-the-order monster.
3. Dominic Smith, 1B, Serra HS (San Mateo, Calif.)
Some scouts soured on Smith due to a pull-happy approach in earlier events this summer, but he was back to his old self in Jupiter. The left/left masher actually caught the last two innings of a consolation game and while his footwork was predictably bad, his hands were good and his pop times (1.84 to second, 1.55 to third) were plus, showing off his raw arm strength. He won't be the first left-handed catching prospect, but is a good defensive first baseman with the arm for right, though he's a below-average runner with a slow first step. The calling card here is an easy left-handed stroke with big raw power to all fields (7-for-15, double, two walks) and a feel for the bat head that helps scouts feel confident he can hit enough for his power to profile at first.
4. Oscar Mercado, SS, Gaither (Fla.) HS
Mercado is an elite defender at shortstop with above-average speed and arm but an even better first step and instincts that give him a plus defensive package. He's a long, loose, thin athlete that likely won't fill out much more, but his loose swing with plus bat speed creates good gap-to gap power. Mercado knows contact is his game and has shown an ability to square up good pitching this summer and transfer his power into games.
5. Jon Denney, C, Yukon (Okla.) HS
Denney was the surprise of the tournament for me -- I had heard he was a guy to see, but was clearly the best catching prospect in attendance despite a deep class of catchers. Denney has a true plus arm and is an above-average receiver with soft hands and a comfortable feel behind the plate. He also has plus raw power and a very patient approach, but when he swung he made hard contact. He's a potential all-star catcher that's at least above average in the four tools that matter and isn't a bad runner; a solid mid-first rounder for me.
6. J.P. Crawford, Lakewood (Calif.) HS
Crawford is similar to Mercado but has a more projectable frame with more current strength and bats left-handed. Crawford isn't as polished at the plate but brings above-average speed, defense and arm strength to the table in an enticing package that can stick at shortstop long-term. Crawford loads his hands higher and deeper and will bar out at times, causing contact and timing issues but has a chance to surpass Mercado in time.
7. Nick Ciuffo, C, Lexington (S.C.) HS
Ciuffo has a catcher's frame (6-foot-1, 200 pounds) and is a solid athlete with an above-average arm, solid receiving skills and above-average power. He didn't hit much in Jupiter and was trying to frame every pitch, but Ciuffo has a long history and everyday tools that should go in the first round.
8. Ryan Boldt, CF, Red Wing (Minn.) HS
Boldt also had some trouble getting hits in Jupiter but the tools were apparent and a tough weekend doesn't change his stock. He has plus-plus speed, solid gap power, good feel for the bat head and above-average defense that have scouts confident Boldt will go on day one with above-average regular upside.
9. Chris Okey, C, Eustis (Fla.) HS
Okey doesn't have the size (6-foot, 175 pounds) or raw power to hang with Ciuffo or Denney as a prospect, but has the above-average arm and receiving skills along with great bat control and solid-average speed for a wide base of skills and instincts that scouts love.
10. Zack Collins, 1B, American Heritage HS (Plantation, Fla.)
Collins catches now and has an average arm, but is stiff and mechanical behind the plate and his below-average speed fits best at first base down the road. On the bright side, Collins has a very loose left-handed swing with above-average raw power potential to all fields that won't let the Miami commit slip out of day one.
Best of the rest
Touki Toussaint, RHP, Coral Springs (Fla.) Christian
Toussaint is a 2014 draft prospect who was the best arm at the event, sitting 92-95, hitting 97 with a big plus curveball at 73-75 mph and a lightning quick, super clean and fluid arm action.
Carlos Salazar, RHP, Kerman (Calif.) HS
Rumors of hitting 98 mph before the tourney had scouts flocking to Salazar's morning start and he didn't disappoint, sitting 93-95, hitting 96 and showing an above-average 84-86 mph changeup but an inconsistent breaking ball.
Brian Navarreto, C, Arlington Country Day HS (Jacksonville, Fla.)
Navarreto is bigger (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) with a little more raw power and a tick better arm strength than Okey, but isn't quite as polished at the plate.
John Sternagel, 3B, Rockledge (Fla.) HS
Sternagel has a boxy 6'2, 200 pound frame and fringy speed but good actions and a solid-average arm to profile at third and while he only has average raw power, he has outstanding bat control and feel at the plate.
Jonah Wesely, LHP, Tracy (Calif.) HS Mature 6'2, 215 lefty with advanced feel sat 90-92 hitting 93 with above-average life to both sides of the plate, potential above-average curve at 72-73, potential plus slider at 79-80 and solid-average 79 mph changeup give #3 upside and not much dreaming necessary.
Jake Brentz, LHP, Parkway South HS (Manchester, Mo.)
He's an unknown with little pitching experience who hit 95 mph in a one-inning appearance with clean arm action, then had five scouting directors show up for his next one-inning appearance, where he sat 90-92 with an above-average curve at 69 mph and showed feel for an above-average cutter and changeup in the bullpen.
Jordan Sheffield, RHP, Tullahoma (Tenn.) HS
Showed best velocity of the event, several ticks higher than he's ever thrown, sitting 95-96, hitting 98 in one inning appearance with above-average hard curveball at 81-83 mph.
Rowdy Tellez, 1B, Elk Grove (Calif.) HS
A massive (6-foot-5, 250) lefty first baseman with tough, bat-only profile. He has a high, deep load in his swing and big raw power and did nothing but get on base and mash to all fields at Jupiter (5-for-12, 3 doubles, triple, nine walks).
Trevor Clifton, RHP, Heritage HS (Maryville, Tenn.)
He was a warm-up act for Sheffield's fireballing performance, but may be better a prospect in time. The lanky,6-foot-6, 180-pounder sat 90-91, hitting 92, with potential plus curve at 75-77 mph.
Devin Williams, RHP, Hazelwood (Mo.) West HS Another relative unknown arm from Missouri showed shades of 2012 Cubs supplemental rounder Duane Underwood -- a long, smooth athlete who ran it up to 94 mph with above-average 77-79 changeup but inconsistent feel for average 79-81 mph slider and some balance issues in delivery