Early Draft Preview: High School Overview
Compiled by Alan Matthews
Best Athlete: By comparison to 2004, the 2005 prep class is stocked with premium athletes. Upton’s combination of tools and athleticism is unparalleled. OF DeSean Jackson (47) is one of the top wide receivers in the country. He was named MVP of the recent high school football all-American game in San Antonio with seven receptions for 141 yards and a 45-yard touchdown pass. OF Austin Jackson (10) has drawn comparisons to Kenny Lofton, a former college basketball star at Arizona, and agreed to a hoops scholarship offer from Georgia Tech. SS/OF C.J. Henry (36) is also considered one of the top shooting guards in America. Maybin, whose cousin is North Carolina basketball star Rashad McCants, also has exceptional pure athletic ability.
Best Pure Hitter: Upton possesses superb bat speed and hitting tools—just like his brother B.J., the second overall pick in the 2002 draft. 3B David Adams (13) features an advanced approach and an ability to drive balls to all fields while OF John Drennen (26) is one of the class’s most polished hitters. 1B Dennis Raben (84) and OFs Kyle Russell (31) and Jay Bruce (44) own fluid lefthanded strokes.
Best Power: Showcase batting practice sessions were expensive last year, as this year’s crop of sluggers deposited numerous balls beyond fences, no matter the venue. Six-foot-3, 260-pound 1B Henry Sanchez (12) has monster raw power and put it on display at last summer’s Area Code Games. Maybin and OF Jordan Danks (5) put on a show in the home run derby at the AFLAC Classic. O’Sullivan’s swing creates natural loft, as does C Jon Egan’s (24) and switch-hitting C Preston Paramore (30). Six-foot-5, 220-pound 1B/3B Chris Dominguez (56) and 6-foot-4, 230-pound RHP/1B Iain Sebastian (49) have plenty of natural power, though Dominguez’ hasn’t translated well in games.
Fastest Runner: Upton turned in a 6.3 second 60-yard time on artificial turf last summer, and some scouts feel his game-changing speed may play best in center field. OF Andrew McCutchen (8), who stole 44 bases last year and was a member of his high school’s state championship 100-meter relay team as a freshman, and DeSean Jackson (47) are also burners.
Best Defensive Player: C/SS Brandon Snyder (11) possesses a wide range of defensive skills and is considered a potential high-rounder at both positions. SS Nick Romero (39) has nice middle-infield actions while Bruce plays the outfield with poise and aplomb. 2B Jemile Weeks (80), though undersized, can really pick it. C Ryan Babineau (73) has a quick release and good lateral movement behind the plate, while Egan has above-average arm strength.
Hardest Thrower: Unlike last year’s class of arms, the 2005 prep crop lacks a dominant, overpowering pitcher such as Homer Bailey and Mark Rogers. RHP Ryan Tucker (29) has touched 95 mph while Putnam delivers 93 mph heat with regularity. RHPs Blair Brejtfus (64), Jeff Lyman (34), Josh Zeid (23) and Sebastian also feature above-average arm strength.
Best Breaking Ball: RHP Brad Clark (22) can really spin it. His 83 mph curveball is a two-plane, plus offering. RHP Michael Bowden (19) owns one of the best sliders among the group. RHP Shane Funk (65) and O’Sullivan also flash plus breaking balls with late bite.
Best Command: O’Sullivan walked nine batters in 71 innings last year. Putnam and RHPs Kyle Hancock (21), Jeremy Hellickson (14) and Chris Volstad (7) also have shown a good feel for pitching and the willingness to work to both sides of the plate. LHP Aaron Thompson (18) has a smooth, effortless delivery and spots multiple offerings well. LHP Miers Quigley (17) has an advanced sense of how to set up hitters.
Most Intriguing Background: The class offers a bevy of players with baseball bloodlines. Snyder, son of Brian; 1B/LHP Ike Davis (15), son of Ron; SS Ivan De Jesus (41), son of Ivan; SS Justin Sellers (58), son of Jeff; RHP Matt Lea (78), son of Charlie; and OF Scott Van Slyke (99), son of Andy, all have fathers who played in the big leagues. Danks, Upton, Weeks and SS P.J. Phillips (25) are the younger brothers of current prospects. OF Diallo Fon’s (40) parents lived in Africa before moving to California.
Closest to the Majors: There are not a lot of players in this year’s prep crop that ooze polish and come without risk. Upton could be in the big leagues by 2008 as a center fielder. It may take additional time to gain a comfort level at shortstop. Adams’ approach and plate discipline might be enough to entice an organization typically tepid toward high-round high school picks. O’Sullivan may be the most polished arm. With increased strength, Volstad could move quickly.
Best Two-Way Player: O’Sullivan and SS/RHP Justin Bristow (4) are the most versatile players in a deep group. Bristow hit .490 with seven homers last spring while going 9-1, 0.80. RHP/SS Buster Posey (16) has plenty of scouts undecided about his best future position, while OF/RHP Trevor Bell (43), OF/LHP David Cooper (48), OF/RHP Ryan Delaughter (67), Putnam, Rasmus and Sebastian generate interest as both players and pitchers, as well.