Austin Wilson at bat
More interesting high school hitters for your consideration. Next up: College Hitters, followed by my current personal draft board and a mock draft.
Brian Ragira, OF, James Martin High School, Arlington, Texas
Like Austin Wilson (see below), Brian Ragira is a tools outfielder who is also very intelligent and committed to Stanford. He's not as filled out as Wilson, listed at 6-3, 180, but has the chance to produce excellent power with maturity. His speed is average but he has a strong throwing arm and would fit perfectly in right field. Scouts have had some issues getting a read on Ragira's signability; on talent alone he should go in the supplemental or second round, but his family are Kenyan immigrants and put a lot of value on college education. His makeup is regarded as excellent. He could be picked early in the supplemental round, or he could fall out of the top ten rounds completely depending on how scouts read his intentions.
Stefan Sabol, C-OF, Aliso Niguel High School, Laguna Niguel, California
The 6-2, 205 pound Sabol has very good speed and should hit for power as well; the main question for him is defense. Currently a catcher, his speed goes to waste behind the plate in the eyes of some scouts, who see him as a future center fielder. Others believe that his combination of quickness, agility, and arm strength are rare attributes for a catcher. He needs help with the finer points of backstop work, but if he stays behind the plate he can polish up his receiving skills with more experience. His draft position is up in the air at the moment, and there's at least some chance he could end up at the University of Oregon if he falls too far.
Josh Sale, OF, Bishop Blanchet High School, Seattle, Washington
Committed to Gonzaga, the 6-1, 205 pound Sale is rates as the top high school hitter in the draft class by many experts, at least based on present ability. He already shows excellent power due to plus-plus bat speed, and should hit for average as well. The rest of his game is not as well-rounded. His running speed and throwing arm are okay, but he projects more as a left fielder than anything else, and doesn't have much remaining projection in his body. He certainly doesn't have the all-around tools of Austin Wilson, for example. Projecting Sales in the draft is tough: he could go anywhere from 10 to 30 depending on how teams balance out his hitting vs. his other tools and what his bonus demands look like.
Dickie Thon Jr, SS, Perpetuo Socorro School, San Juan, Puerto Rico
The son of former big league infielder Dickie Thon, junior is less polished than you might expect given his bloodlines, but only took up baseball full time this year after focusing previously on track. Scouts like his speed and arm strength, and there is remaining projectability in his 6-2, 180 pound frame. It remains to be seen how much power he'll develop and if he'll remain at shortstop. He has a commitment to Rice, and from a purely developmental perspective college ball would likely be good for him both offensively and defensively. Right now he's probably a third round target, but three years of college development with a strong program could push him higher than that.
Drew Vettelson, OF-RHP, Central Kitsap High School, Tracyton, Washington
The 6-1, 185 Vettelson is a switch-pitcher, hitting 90 MPH from the right side but a credible 85 from the left. He won't pull a Pat Venditte in pro ball, however, as most teams see him as an outfielder. He's expected to hit for average and be a sharp defender at either outfield corner, but there's some question about how much power he'll develop. A team willing to bet on his tools and future power could take him in the later part of the supplemental round or in the second round. He has an Oregon State commitment as leverage.
Austin Wilson, OF, Harvard Westlake High School, North Hollywood, California
Probably the toolsiest overall player in the high school class, Wilson features excellent power potential, decent speed, and an amazing throwing arm. He's 6-4, 215, and reminds scouts of players like Andre Dawson and Jermaine Dye. He's still somewhat raw as a hitter, but Wilson is extremely intelligent and has a strong work ethic, giving him a good shot at ironing out remaining flaws in his swing. He has a Stanford scholarship and is academically-oriented, giving him plenty of leverage on draft day. Toolswise he belongs in the Top Ten of the draft, but he could end up slipping towards the bottom of the first round if teams get worried about his bonus demands. Current speculation is that he's willing to sign if the money is right.
Tony Wolters, SS, Rancho Buena Vista High School, Vista, California
Wolters is undersized at 5-10, 165, and his tools aren't exciting. Despite this, the University of San Diego signee could still go early in the draft due to his outstanding polish, terrific work ethic, and "baseball rat" demeanor that scouts love. He makes hard contact and controls the strike zone better than most players his age, which helps. He's a fine defensive shortstop; although his arm isn't the best, his instincts and positioning are so good that he should be able to remain at short, at least for awhile. He could go somewhere towards the back of the supplemental round or in the second round.
Christian Yelich, 1B, Westlake High School, Thousand Oaks, California
A University of Miami signee, the 6-4, 185 pound Yelich is more athletic than the typical high school first baseman. He has decent speed and enough athleticism to have played shortstop in the past, though in pro ball he'll be a first baseman and likely an excellent one with the glove. Offensively, he's considered a pure hitter type with above average power potential, though whether he settles in as a 20-homer type or a 30-homer type will depend on how much he fills out his body and how his swing matures. On talent alone he would be a good pick for someone in the second or third round, but if he slips too far down the list, he could head to Miami and improve his draft position with good play for the Hurricanes by '13.