Marietta, GA - The first day of the tournament is a mixed bag. It’s great because every team is here and many throw their best pitchers out the shoot.
But in a tournament as massive as this one is with over 200 teams, there tend to be a lot of early mismatches. While many teams are loaded with future draft picks and High-D1 NCAA players, there simply aren’t enough great players available to stock all 200 teams. Therefore there’s quite a gap between the haves and have-nots.
Nevertheless, I got a look at a number of very fine prospects for 2013 and 2014 over the first day of the 16U Tournament. So did dozens of college coaches, some who stuck around from the 17U event and some who came just for this one. On the other hand, I didn’t see any MLB scouts today, whose focus at this point is squarely on the 2012 Draft.
I saw three teams on Saturday who were particularly stacked with prospects and whom I expect to be factors in the playoffs: Canes White, Houston Heat, and Marucci Elite 16’s. They are based in the Carolinas, Texas, and the Deep South respectively.
Canes White featured one of the event’s best pitching prospects and one who is actually a rising senior, eligible for the 2012 Draft even though he’s still 16. Jamie Callahan (Dillon HS, SC) is a 6’2”, 195 lb righty who threw in the high-80s with a loose arm and showed the makings of a big league curveball. He’s a strong-bodied, well-proportioned kid with some bodily projection. Callahan was wild and was facing a team that couldn’t capitalize on his poor location today, but there is definite upside for the South Carolina-commit. At the Perfect Game National a month before, Callahan flirted with 91-92 MPH velocities over a two-inning stint.
Canes White featured a number of impressive position players. Second baseman Max Schrock (Cardinal Gibbons HS, NC) is also headed to South Carolina. Schrock is an undersized 5’9”, 180 kid with pop in his bat; a short lefthanded stroke with loft power. He doesn’t have the arm for shortstop, but his feet and hands can make him a quality defensive second baseman in the SEC and beyond. He has an advanced approach at the plate and hit the ball hard all game.
Jae Roberts (Hammond School, SC) from Canes White had the best hitting tools of anyone I saw all day. Roberts can generate solid-average big league bat-speed with wood right now, which you rarely see in a rising junior. He’s powerfully built at about 5’10”, 210 lbs, and has near-average raw power as well. Lack of projection hurts him in the draft and he’ll have to work hard to become a playable MLB leftfielder. Still, the hitting tools are good and will get attention over the next two years. The bat just might end up good enough to make him a high draft anyway.
The Houston Heat’s best prospect in the field is Cavan Biggio, a shortstop/third baseman who plays for his father Craig Biggio at St. Thomas HS in Houston. Biggio, a 2013 grad, is a much different type of player from his father; he’s a lefthanded hitter with loft power and a 6’1”, 170 lb frame that will fill out at least another thirty pounds. Biggio shows good actions for third base, with the hands and body control to make the tough plays at the hot corner. He doesn’t quite have the agility or arm-strength to project for me as a shortstop in the big leagues, but there’s a chance he plays there for some D1 schools.
Marucci Elite 16’s has a stacked roster themselves. Justin Williams (Terrebonne HS, LA) rates as the best prospect for me among the Marucci players I saw, he’s a 2013-graduating 1B/2B. Williams showed a much sweeter lefhanded swing at the Perfect Game Junior National last month, he was “gripping and ripping” it today, going for the fences. He’s a strong 6’1”, 205 lbs and has pure hitting actions, but will have to work hard to be playable at any of the corner positions.
A pitcher of note from the LIDS Indiana Bulls is righty Mark Giesler out of Jasper HS in Indiana. This is the first time I’ve seen Giesler and he’s very interesting for the 2013 Draft, with a sculpted and projectable 6’4”, 210 lb frame and an athletic delivery. Giesler’s arm works well and he was in the 86-87 MPH range early, settling in at 83-84 MPH. There wasn’t a lot of bite on his curve, but it had good spin at times and it can become a quality pitch. Most impressive about Giesler is his projection and also his competitiveness. He battled through his at-bats like he did on the mound and put himself ahead with a two-run homer.
I’ll be at the WWBA 16U National Championships for two more full days so check back for more reports on the top prospects for the 2013 and 2014 Drafts.