This afternoon we will fire up the transporter, fly our starship through an ion storm, and peek into an alternate universe where the top high school picks for each team in the 2013 draft did not sign but instead went to college. Where would these guys stand as college players entering the 2016 draft?
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: The top Diamonback prep in '13 was outfielder Justin Williams, drafted in the second round from high school in Houma, Louisiana. Traded to the Rays in the Jeremy Hellickson deal, he hit .277/.298/.394 in A-ball last year, still flashing good tools but also a raw hitting approach that cuts into his power production. He was committed to Louisiana State. Assuming he played regularly for LSU, the metal bat would boost his surface numbers compared to pro ball but scouts would still notice the raw approach. He could still go as high as the second round, given relative paucity of college bats with high ceilings.
ATLANTA BRAVES: The top Braves prep pick in '13 was right-hander Carlos Salazar, drafted in the third round from high school in Kerman, California. He had a Fresno State scholarship. In pro ball he's shown good stuff but suffered through serious command issues, walking 50 in 57 innings last year though with a 2.70 ERA. A similar "throws hard but poor control" profile in college heading into the '16 draft would make him a candidate for the middle rounds most likely, but probably not as high as he went in '13.
BALTIMORE ORIOLES: The top Orioles high school pick in '13 was first round pick right-hander Hunter Harvey from high school in Catawba, North Carolina. Harvey was fully committed to pro ball and didn't even have a college commitment for leverage purposes. If that was different in some alternate universe, a goatee-wearing Harvey would no doubt impress scouts with his combination of stuff and pitchability against college competition, perhaps pitching for a big-name SEC school, while also scaring them with his health record. If he missed 2015 with injury as he did in real life, he would be a redshirt sophomore this year, his draft status depending on health and bonus demands.
BOSTON RED SOX: The top Boston prep pick in 2013 was lefty Trey Ball from high school in New Castle, Indiana. The first-rounder had a University of Texas commitment. His performance in pro ball has been spotty (4.76 ERA in 276 innings, 150/105 K/BB) and he's considered a general disappointment at this point. If his college career had been similar, we'd still be talking about an athletic 6-6 lefty who pro scouts would want to get their hands on. He wouldn't go in the first round but he could still be off the board in the single digit rounds.
CHICAGO CUBS: The Cubs didn't draft a high school guy in 2013 until the 9th round, taking Texas prep Charcer Burks. Burks was an obscure-but-toolsy Houston-area player; if he had a college commitment, I'm not finding a public record of it. He hit .257/.339/.347 last year in Low-A, stealing 28 bases and drawing 51 walks. Speed is his best tool and it would certainly stand out on a college field enough to get him drafted again in the same territory.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX: The top White Sox high schooler in 2013 was right-hander Tyler Danish out of high school in Plant City, Florida, drafted in the second round. He was committed to the University of Florida. Successful in pro ball, he was excellent in A-ball in 2014 but had trouble against older competition in Double-A last year at age 20 (4.50 ERA, 90/60 K/BB in 142 innings, 170 hits). He would dominate college baseball with his present skill set and would be a candidate for the first round this year.
CINCINNATI REDS: The Reds drafted Cerritos, California high school third baseman Kevin "K.J." Franklin in the second round. He hasn't performed well in pro ball, hitting .242/.294/.371 over three seasons in rookie ball with nine homers, 32 walks, and 162 strikeouts in 582 at-bats. Committed to Arizona State, he was a promising power hitter but hasn't tapped that in pro ball due to contact problems. In college the metal bat would mask some of that but not enough to get him drafted this high again.
CLEVELAND INDIANS: Drafted fifth-overall in 2013, Loganville, Georgia high school outfielder Clint Frazier was committed to the home state University of Georgia Bulldogs. Although he's had some contact issues in pro ball, overall he's been a strong producer with solid 2014 and 2015 seasons under his belt; he is still ranked as one of the top outfield prospects in baseball. He would have dominated the college ranks and would certainly be an early first-round candidate again this year.
COLORADO ROCKIES: The top Rockies high schooler in 2013 was second round third baseman Ryan McMahon, from high school in Santa Ana, California. He was committed to the University of Southern California. Like Frazier, McMahon has performed very well in pro ball and is among the elite prospects in the minors. Like Frazier, he would have dominated college competition and would be a certain early pick this year, likely going in the early to middle first round, sooner than he did in '13.
DETROIT TIGERS: The Tigers drafted only one high schooler in the entire '13 class, outfielder Adrian Castano in the 26th round from New York City. He hit .241/.348/.284 over three rookie ball seasons and was released earlier this week. He had been committed to Lamar University. A two-way player in high school, Castano had good pitching feel but an 84 MPH fastball made him an outfielder in pro ball. He didn't get to play much, just 141 at-bats spread over three seasons in rookie ball. He did show some feel for the strike zone and old high school scouting reports reference a nice swing. Perhaps this would have translated better into the college context.
Stay tuned for part two.