One doesn’t simply write about Jupiter, not without first reflecting on this matter’s relative futility.
Perfect Game’s 2015 WWBA World Championship – often referred to by its aforementioned host town in Florida – marks the last stop on the high school showcase circuit. Between Oct. 22 and 26, 85 travel ball teams competed against each other at the Roger Dean Stadium complex, the spring training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins. Though most of the top-flight draft talent was concentrated among 20 or so teams, it was still tricky to navigate 13 fields in a golf cart while jockeying for real estate behind home plate of said fields with hoards of other golf carts. This happened for five days, for 10-14 hours each day, depending on your ambition level. And lo, this test of scouting endurance was further complicated by basic human maintenance, as one must still eat on a regular basis and displace the eaten contents on a more timelier one. I say these things to say that there was a lot happening at once, and as one half of a two-man FanGraphs team that slogged through this test, I also say that it was difficult to see all of which that happened at once, in case your expectations were higher before you finished reading this sentence.
But I still hope you’ve read Dan Farnsworth’s concentrated musings on the high-follow draft prospects who caught his scouting eye in Jupiter. This is a companion piece. The following 10 players who caught my eye are listed in alphabetical order and, on talent, are targets for the top two rounds. Nine of them appeared in Kiley McDaniel’s Sortable Draft Board.
Right-hander Tyler Baum (West Orange HS, FL; North Carolina commit) displayed a trifecta of athleticism, projection and feel for a quality three-pitch mix. His tailing fastball ranged between 90-93 mph, which he combined with a 73-75 mph curveball that projects above average and a nascent changeup. He has the looseness in his delivery that scouts look for, and his lean 6-foot-2, 185-pound build suggests there’s more in the tank.
Nolan Jones (Holy Ghost Prep, PA; Virginia commit) showed why he’s among the 10 best high school hitting prospects in this year’s draft, pairing a smooth swing with exceptional bat speed and a projectable pro body at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds. Plus raw power is in the offing, though improved pitch recognition is needed for all of said power to translate in games. A good overall athlete with fluid defensive actions, he profiles best at third base where his plus arm will be put to good use.
Carter Kieboom (Walton HS, GA; Clemson commit), the younger brother of Nationals prospect Spencer Kieboom and Georgia junior third baseman Trevor Kieboom, has been a consistent performer on the summer showcase circuit. In Jupiter, he put his line-drive path on display for evaluators, showing above-average raw power potential by way of explosive hip action and bat speed. He’s fluid at shortstop, but his range will be better suited for third base once his 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame reaches maturity.
As Kiley noted in his Sortable Board, more scouts prefer Josh Lowe (Pope HS, GA; Florida State commit) and his mid-90s fastball on the mound, but he’s also a compelling hitting prospect with plus raw power. Like Jones, he has a high-waisted, pro build at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and impressive bat speed that helps generate ample backspin to any part of the field. He’s also an excellent overall athlete who has delivered plus 60-yard run times in the past with quick hands at third base.
The slickest leather in this year’s prep class may belong to shortstop Delvin Perez (International Baseball Academy, P.R.; uncommitted), who made the play of Jupiter when he made a diving stop to his left, barrel-rolled and then threw home for the force-out. In addition to the soft glove, he has an above-average arm and solid range that plays up due to advanced instincts, making him the rare high school shortstop who projects to stay at the position. His plate approach is very raw, but he does have projectable hitting tools with present contact ability.
Right-hander Matt Manning (Sheldon HS, CA: Loyola Marymount commit) earned most valuable pitcher honors of the tournament, tallying 14 strikeouts in seven shutout innings to help the EvoShield Canes win their third straight title. His fastball ranged from 90-93 and peaked at 94, and he regularly kept it in the lower third of the zone. He also flashed the makings of an above-average curveball at 76-78 mph. With a long, loose arm action and an effortless delivery, scouts can look forward to more velocity as he fills out his listed 6-foot-6, 185-pound frame.
Nick Quintana (Arbor View HS, NV; Arizona commit) once again displayed his advanced feel for hitting, which I documented earlier this summer. He batted .500 over the five-day stretch, working both sides of the field with outstanding barrel-to-ball ability and swing that should translate to at least average game power. He’s a below-average runner with good defensive instincts who profiles best at second base, though I’d like to see how his athleticism and above-average arm strength would play behind the dish.
Long and lean at 6-foot-4, 190 pounds, Cole Ragans (North Florida Christian HS, FL; Florida State commit) offers an intriguing combination of physical projection and pitchability. His fastball peaked at 90 mph and settled in the 86-88 range, and he mixed in a big-breaking projectable hook that registered in the low-70s while showing a feel for a sinking changeup. The ball comes out how you want it to, and it’s altogether an easy motion that’s suitable for volume once he adds bulk.
Along with Drew Mendoza and Alex Kirilloff, Avery Tuck (Steele Canyon HS, CA; San Diego State commit) exhibited one of the three purest swings in Jupiter. A truly delightful hand path complements a swift bat and a summarily loose, athletic swing from the left side that could produce above-average game power as he grows into his 6-foot-5, 195-pound frame, though he’ll need to develop better offspeed tracking. He has average speed underway with fluid actions and plus arm strength that plays in right field.
Third baseman Joe Rizzo (Oakton HS, VA; South Carolina commit) made hard contact all week long, showing perhaps the most advanced present hit tool in Jupiter. Thanks to premium hand-eye coordination, advanced pitch recognition and a compact stroke from the left side, he wore out the opposite field and has solid-average raw power that should continue translating in games. He has thicker dimensions at 5-foot-11, 215, but has enough athleticism and arm strength to man the hot corner.