Swanson, Rodgers, Jay top list of MLB draft prospects
DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
Jun. 07, 2015
SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) — Some of the top players eligible for the Major League Baseball draft, which begins Monday night (with position, school, height, weight and college class):
LHP, IMG Academy, 6-foot-3, 210 pounds.
Last year's No. 1 overall pick by Houston failed to sign with Astros after not agreeing on contract amid concerns about pitching elbow. Coming off Tommy John surgery in March, but still expected to be first-rounder. Before injury, was pitching for IMG Academy, private training institute in Florida. Soared to top of draft lists last year out of San Diego's Cathedral Catholic High because of impeccable control of low- to mid-90s fastball, terrific curveball and one of country's best changeups.
OF, Arkansas, 5-10, 180, sophomore.
Southeastern Conference player of year also selected as Collegiate Baseball newspaper's top player while leading Razorbacks into NCAA Tournament's super regionals. Draft-eligible sophomore with smooth, left-handed swing and power. Has terrific speed that makes him base-stealing threat and could leave him in center field in pros. Finalist for both Golden Spikes Award and Howser Trophy, given to country's best player.
SS, LSU, 6-0, 190, junior.
Leader of Tigers offense that has been ranked No. 1 in country in several polls for most of season. Golden Spikes finalist is aggressive at plate with quick bat, but has struck out just 20 times in 239 ABs. Has improved defensively in each of three seasons at LSU, and could remain there in pros. In mix for No. 1 overall pick.
RHP, Vanderbilt, 6-2, 170, junior.
Could join Commodores teammates RHP Carson Fulmer and SS Dansby Swanson as only second trio from one college to go in first half of draft — joining Rice, which had Philip Humber, Jeff Niemann and Wade Townsend selected in first eight picks in 2004. Dealt with some elbow soreness early in season, but has been solid. Playoff MVP in Cape Cod League last summer. Helped Commodores win College World Series. Athletic with smooth delivery and fastball that sits in low- to mid-90s.
OF, Eagle's Landing Christian Academy (Georgia), 6-1, 190.
Son of former big league All-Star outfielder Mike Cameron making name for himself and will easily be drafted earlier than famous father, who was 18th-rounder by Chicago White Sox in 1991. Has solid power — no surprise since Mike once hit 4 HRs in a game — to all fields. Projects as center fielder in pros. Florida State recruit and Georgia's Gatorade player of year could go in first five picks.
OF, Richland Hills H.S. (Texas), 6-0, 200.
Left-handed Clark widely regarded as one of top high school hitters — and one of speediest — available in draft. Set single-season mark for Team USA's Under-18 squad last summer with 24 RBIs in just 12 games, and led team to gold medal at Pan Am championship. Short swing with good bat speed and consistent contact. Texas Tech recruit projects as center fielder at next level.
RHP, Vanderbilt, 6-0, 195, junior.
Ace of Commodores staff was Southeastern Conference pitcher of year and also finalist for Golden Spikes and Howser Trophy. Mid-90s fastball and big-time breaking ball, along with aggressive approach. Has violent delivery that might be best-suited for bullpen. Moved from closer to starting staff last season while helping Vandy to College World Series title. Could end up in either role in pros.
RHP, Missouri St., 6-4, 190, junior.
Missouri Valley Conference pitcher of year has mid-90s fastball that complements solid curve and slider and still-improving changeup. Helped Bears reach super regionals for second time in school history. Perhaps most impressive: allowed first HR this season against Canisius in NCAA regionals. Could challenge Ross Detwiler, who went sixth overall in 2007, as school's highest-drafted player.
LHP, Illinois, 6-1, 185, junior.
Fireballing lefty closer in mix to be No. 1 overall pick by Diamondbacks. Helped lead Illini to No. 6 national seed in NCAA Tournament and first super regionals appearance. Set school record with 14 saves. Has excellent command of dominant stuff with four pitches. Could rise quickly at next level if he remains reliever as some scouts consider him close to big-league ready.
RHP, UCLA, 6-4, 200, junior.
Former reliever has blossomed into one of college baseball's most-polished starters during last two years. Combined with star closer David Berg on first no-hitter in school history last month. Went 10-4 with 2.03 ERA and 114Ks and 33 BBs in 106 2/3 innings for UCLA team that was No. 1 overall seed in NCAA Tournament. Fastball sits in low-90s, but has terrific changeup and knee-buckling curve.
SS, Lake Mary H.S. (Florida), 6-0, 195.
Widely regarded as best overall high school position player and could go No. 1 to Arizona, which last had top pick in 2005 — when it selected high school SS Justin Upton. Has been at or near top of teams' draft lists since last summer, and has scouts drooling because of powerful bat, compact swing, tendency to hit to all fields and soft hands and good range at shortstop. Should remain at position in pros, but has strong enough arm to move to third base, if necessary. Is one of four players expected to attend draft at MLB Network's studios and could be first to shake hands with new Commissioner Rob Manfred. Florida State recruit.
C, Kennesaw Mountain H.S. (Georgia), 6-4, 210.
Mentioned throughout spring as being in mix to go No. 1 overall, big slugger arguably top catching prospect in draft. Has also pitched during high school career and flashed a 90 mph fastball, but future lies behind plate instead of on mound — and his big bat and raw power are main reasons. Georgia Tech recruit.
SS, Vanderbilt, 6-0, 195, junior.
Could become first college shortstop to go No. 1 overall since Brown University's Bill Almon in 1974. He and LSU's Alex Bregman could become first shortstops to go in first two picks since Shawon Dunston (Cubs) and Augie Schmidt (Blue Jays) in 1982. Golden Spikes and Howser Award finalist helped lead Commodores to super regionals of NCAA Tournament. Was College World Series' Most Outstanding Player last year. Made smooth transition from 2B to SS this season, and has skills to stay there in pros.
RHP, UC Santa Barbara, 6-2, 185, junior.
Hard-throwing righty was one of best closers in country last year, and established himself as outstanding starter this season for Gauchos. Went 8-5 with 2.26 ERA and 111 Ks in 103 1/3 IP. Has terrific overall stuff, including fastball that hits upper-90s and wicked slider to go along with solid curve and changeup.
OF, Plant H.S. (Florida), 6-4, 175.
Brother of Astros OF Preston Tucker is considered perhaps second-best high school position player, behind only Brendan Rodgers. Has sweet, smooth swing with discipline and good power; he broke Preston's school record with 31 career homers. Could move to corner outfield spot at next level. Preston was seventh-rounder in 2012, but Kyle could go within first five picks — maybe even to big brother's Astros at No. 5. University of Florida recruit.