Some draft news and notes with a heavy emphasis on prep players today as the NHSI takes place this week. The 2014 draft begins on June 5th. The Pittsburgh Pirates have the 24th pick in the first round this year. They also picked 65th overall in the second round and 74th, which is their competitive balance pick. For more information on the top players in this draft class, check out our four-part draft preview.
The National High School Invitational is going on today through Saturday and many of the best prep players are competing in the tournament. Some of the games will be shown live online at USA Baseball and I was able to catch the Coral Springs Christian game and watch right-handed pitcher Touki Toussaint. I came away very impressed at the arsenal he displayed and his poise on the mound when he got himself into trouble in the fourth inning. Toussaint was mixing in a fastball that hit 95 MPH, along with a big 12-to-6 curve to keep batters off balance. He did have some control issues and that is what the scouting reports have said about him, but he also allowed just one hit and struck out 12 batters in six shutout innings. He has a change-up that grades at least average, though he may have used the pitch just once all game.
Toussaint’s team won the game 1-0 over Orange Lutheran and their highly rated shortstop Josh Morgan. With dominating stuff in HS, a pitcher like Toussaint can usually overpower hitters, but Morgan put up some nice plate appearances against him, including a walk and a long drive to left field. Morgan drew another walk after Toussaint left the game. It was a nice showing for Morgan against one of the better prep pitchers. He profiles as a possible 2nd/3rd round pick, someone to watch for when the Pirates select 64th overall and then again when they pick 73rd. There is a question as to whether Morgan can stay in shortstop in the pros. Just going by the brief glimpse I saw, he seemed to have good range up the middle and made a play that wasn’t routine.
In other action from the day, Braxton Davidson was held hitless in his team’s 5-0 loss. He did draw two walks and has been hitting well this year, including hitting for power. A recent mock draft had him going to the Pirates and others have him in the Pirates range.
Josh Norris from Baseball America has a recap of the Mountain Pointe/Bishop Verot game.
Shortstop Jacob Gatewood drove in a run during his team’s 7-2 win. He is a likely mid-first round pick that was covered here recently.
Foster Griffin doesn’t throw as hard as most of the top names, topping out at 91 MPH on Wednesday, but he is a lefty that has quality secondary stuff and room to fill out, which should allow him to add velocity. He threw seven shutout innings, giving up three hits, two walks and he had seven strikeouts. You can see a full scouting report for him and two videos on Big League Futures.
Kiley McDaniel posted his list of top draft-eligible players in Florida and Toussaint came in at #3, a likely first round pick. McDaniel believes as many as 13 players from Florida could be chosen in the first two rounds.
Baseball America has a list of the teams and players to watch at the NHSI over the next three days.
Chris Crawford from ESPN Insider(subscription required) takes a look at the top five prospects at the NHSI tournament. Listed with brief scouting reports are Toussaint, Gatewood, Davidson, Griffin and Gettys. Not listed here or above, is pitcher Mac Marshall, who makes his start on Thursday. You can check out a video and report on him here.
One player who won’t participate in the NHSI is pitcher Dylan Cease, who hasn’t played in three weeks. According to Clint Longenecker at Baseball America, Cease had an MRI that didn’t show any damage, but Cease wants to get a second opinion on it. He was getting some first round mention early on, but this will likely hurt his draft stock. Cease has a commitment to Vanderbilt, so if he drops too far, he will likely attend school.
Dan Kirby from Through The Fences takes his weekly look at ten high school players rising up the draft charts.
We will post a recap of the rest of the tournament on Sunday.