This is part three of our 2014 amateur draft preview. On Monday, we covered the top college hitters eligible for the draft. Tuesday was the college pitchers, a large group with first round potential. Today we focus on high school hitters and right now, there seems to be a group of five that could go in the top half of the first round and then we might not see another until the second round. That could obviously change a lot between now and day one of the draft, so this is just to give you a general sense of what is out there.
An early mock draft had five high school hitters going in the top 15 picks and then none in the next half. Baseball America and Kiley McDaniel each had four of these players near the top, but McDaniel was down on Jacob Gatewood, while BA wasn’t real high on Michael Gettys. They still got decent ratings, but there appears to be a split for now. The three that were agreed upon by all sources were catcher Alex Jackson, shortstop Nick Gordon and 1B/OF Braxton Davidson.
Alex Jackson will most certainly be gone before the Pirates pick. He is rated as high as third best in this draft class and the best among high school players. He will likely move to outfield, where his big bat, decent speed and plus arm, will play well.
Nick Gordon is the son of longtime major league pitcher Tom Gordon and the brother of current major leaguer Dee Gordon. The younger Gordon has a good enough arm that he could be drafted high as a pitcher, but he has more value as a strong lefty bat at shortstop. He should hit for average and he possesses average tools across the board in every other category.
Braxton Davidson’s main position is outfield, but he may be better suited for first base. He provides great size from the left side, standing 6’3″, 215 pounds and along with that comes a big bat that could fit well at first base. Some believe that he could be the best bat in this draft, so the chances of him sliding down to the Pirates is unlikely at this point.
Michael Gettys was rated 15th overall among high school players by Baseball America, but they seem to be the only ones down on him. Most think he is a top ten overall pick and some scouts think he is the best high school player this year, which means there is very little chance the Pirates have a shot at him. Gettys is considered someone that could stick at center field and offer up five tools, with his speed and arm being well above average already. He also has good bat speed, a short swing and excellent pitch selection.
Jacob Gatewood is a shortstop out of California, who struggled in some recent tournaments, leading to some questions to whether he is top of the first round talent. He also may not be able to stick at shortstop, which would drop his value. He has the arm strength and bat to stick at third base, where his limited range wouldn’t hurt him as much as it would at shortstop. He is an average runner. Out of the top five, he’s the one to watch the closest for now.
The Pirates might not have a shot at any of those kids, but there are still some that are rated high by some sources. Second baseman Forrest Wall has a solid bat from the left side, offering great bat speed and some power. His glove and range are above average, his arm is not, so while he has played some third base, he is probably better suited for second base. That could be a problem, because not too many teams will use a first round pick on a second baseman. His glove and bat should play well in the majors and he has average speed.
Outfielder Derek Hill out of California is another player there seems to be a split on. He could go mid-first round or fall back to somewhere in the second round, which obviously makes him one to watch for a team picking 25th overall. His father was a first round pick and played 12 seasons in the minors(including 1988 in the Pirates system). His dad is currently a scout in the Dodgers system, so Hill has been around baseball his whole life. He has plus defense and excellent speed, making him a three plus tool player that can hit a little. Like most high school kids, he has room to fill out more.
The highest rated shortstop not likely to go before the Pirates pick, is Ti’Quan Forbes out of Columbia HS in Mississippi. He is 6’4″ and needs to fill out to reach his potential as a possible five tool player. He has good bat speed and is very athletic, plus he should be able to stick at shortstop.
Finally, we have someone who may already be moving up the draft charts. Baseball America had California outfielder Marcus Wilson rated 24th overall among all high school players in the draft during their late November rankings. Wilson just participated in the Southern California Invitational and was the most impressive player there. He is a potential five tool outfielder with plus arm and speed already. He still needs to fill out, but at 6’3″, he should have some good size and hit for power in the future. You can see a full scouting report of Wilson here and there is a seven minute video below courtesy of Baseball Instinct.