It has been a while since my last rundown of amateur players, and I plan on continuing with the series, but since Baseball America recently released their HS Top 100 list ($ubscription only), I’d figure it’d be helpful to take a look back at some guys that I’ve already covered.
#11 Oscar Mercado: As I said in one of my first posts about the Florida Diamond Club Showcase, Mercado has been a known entity for quite some time—as he was a regular on the showcase circuit. However, he has obviously improved his stock quite a bit, as the quick twitch athleticism, fluid actions in the field, good bat speed, and plus instincts have enamored those within the industry.
#17 Travis Demeritte: I was lucky enough to stumble upon Demeritte while in the back fields of the WWBA in Jupiter, and I was impressed with his arm strength and lateral movement/agility. I was a bit concerned with his load/trigger phase as I felt that the hands were a bit noisy, but he generates easy plus bat speed and showed a patient, advanced approach during his at-bats. I didn’t offer a draft projection in my original, brief analysis because I only saw Demeritte in passing, but others, like BP’s Jason Parks were very high on Demeritte’s skill set, so it is not too surprising to find the South Carolina commit listed so high in Baseball America’s Top 100.
#34 Jan Hernandez: As I mentioned in my last entry, much Hernandez’s value is dependent on his ability to stick at shortstop. Those within the industry are mixed, as Hernandez’s detractors are worried about how much bigger he will get over the next few years. His frame (6-3, 195) and athleticism leave little to be desired, and I saw a nice, mechanically sound swing at the FLDCS with some power potential down the road. Feel free to draw some of your opinions by taking a look at this FREE video of Hernandez courtesy of Baseball Prospectus’ Nick Faleris.
#40 Tucker Neuhaus: I’ve written about Neuhaus extensively, both for Baseball America and out of personal interest, but I remained hesitant in offering a personal draft projection given my relative inexperience with amateur scouting, and the questions about his defensive profile. BA’s HS Top 100 is based on talent alone (not signability, etc.), and I was a bit surprised to see Neuhaus up so high given the defensive question marks. However, Neuhaus is a great, hard-working kid who features legitimate pull power and quality arm strength. While I feel his body (6-3, 190) forces off 3B and into RF, the bat is a legitimate weapon, and it appears that scouts and those within the industry are confident enough in its ability to play up that it has lifted Neuhaus into the top half of the list.
#44 Josh Hart: As with Demerritte, I only got a chance to see Hart in passing while at the WWBA. As such, I didn’t have too much to say other than,
“Plus athlete with body for projection (6-3, 190). Good reads and quick breaks in the outfield—near diving play in shallow RCF. Premium projection and ceiling.”
Hart’s East Cobb team won the tournament, so scouts had a number of opportunities to see the center fielder in action, and it appears that they came away similarly impressed with the center fielder. I would personally be surprised to see the Georgia Tech commit ever set foot on campus, as I think Hart ends up receiving some big-time (over-slot) money to pry him away from his college commitment.
#52 Brian Navaretto: I wrote about Navaretto extensively in my post on Arlington Country Day’s contingent at the FLDCS. He clearly garnered the most attention of the group—and Nathan Rode suggested that the catching prospect projected to be a 2nd -4th round pick. After a couple of weeks of calls/recon work with scouts it appears that Rode’s original suggestion was on point, as Navaretto checks in at #52 in BA’s HS Top 100 (perhaps 2nd, likely 3rd round pick depending on the number of college players selected). Just a quick rundown for those unwilling to read my original analysis: athletic frame, strong forearms/wrists, plus bat speed with leverage, swing got long at times, plays with energy and confidence, very strong arm (1.76-1.84 pop times). Even though this year’s crop of amateur catching talent is particularly deep, I think that Navaretto climbs up draft boards with a strong spring campaign.
#69 Nick Longhi: Had a strong summer on showcase circuit and is a big dude with very real raw power. I wasn’t too sure about his draft prospects because the defensive profile limits him to LF or 1B, but his place in the BA Top 100 shows that some teams think that the LSU commit’s power potential is worth pursuing, regardless of any defensive limitations and swing mechanics that need ironing out.
#81 K.J. Woods: I didn’t have much to say about Woods—I only saw him in passing at the WWBA, but the 6-4, 210 pound OF/1B is a physical specimen. Ft. Mill, South Carolina native doesn’t have much projection remaining, but people are obviously drawn to the special combination of size/power potential and athleticism.
#96 Josh Greene: Like Neuhaus, another guy that I’ve written quite a bit about for both BA and personal interest. Unlike many to make the Top 100, Greene was not a big name coming into 2012. However, the Ocala native’s impressive skill set—plus(to plus-plus) speed, average arm strength, great instincts/reads—makes for a solid defensive center fielder. The bat very much remains a question mark, but he features quick wrists and generates solid bat speed, and organizations are often willing to work with a youngster that provides solid defense at an up-the-middle position (regardless of the bat’s current grade). With that being said, I was pleasantly surprised to find Greene within the Top 100, but his performance this summer/fall has clearly made believers out of more than just myself.
**Just missed Top 100: Christian Arroyo (gamer; absolutely love this kid despite the commitment to University of Florida) Brett Hanewich (Stanford commit, great athletic frame, two way threat—probably ends up as pitcher), Dane Dunning (also UF commit, serious room for projection), Sheldon Neuse (only saw a few innings for Texas Scout Yankees--liked lateral movements in field, approach at plate, instincts on basepaths)
Other Top 100 guys I’ve seen in person/Players to be covered in next post: #100 Edwin Diaz (PR), #75 Willie Abreu, #26 Chris Okey, #55 John Sternagel, #42 Zack Collins, NR Ronald Healy