Prep Baseball Report

Florida again headlines loaded draft class

By Nathan Rode
National Supervisor

It’s no secret that Florida is a hotbed for amateur baseball. With a large population and good weather, the Sunshine State consistently churns out prospects and has long list of major league alumni. Despite the wealth of talent, the state hasn’t produced the first overall pick since the Phillies drafted Pat Burrell out of Miami in 1998. The last time a Florida high school player was taken first overall was 1993, when the Mariners selected Alex Rodriguez out of Westminster Christian HS. Three years before that, in 1990, the Braves took Chipper Jones out of The Bolles School.

There’s a chance the top pick 2015 comes out of Florida, thanks to the ability of SS Brendan Rodgers (Lake Mary HS, FL). A Florida State recruit, Rodgers shows at least average tools across the board with his ability to hit, hit for power, run, field and throw.

Rodgers sits atop the National Top 50 and is joined by several of his peers. Twelve players from Florida made the Top 50 and plenty of others were considered. LHP Juan Hillman (Olympia HS, FL) is arguably the top pitcher in the state with the likes of RHPs Austin Smith (Park Vista HS, FL), Cole Sands (North Florida Christian HS, FL) and Tristan McKenzie (Royal Palm Beach HS, FL) not far behind.

Listed below are the Florida players that made the Top 50 with their national rank leading.

1. Brendan Rodgers, SS, Lake Mary HS, FL (Florida State)
Consensus top prospect hits for power and is a good defender

18. Juan Hillman, LHP, Olympia HS, FL (Central Florida)
Southpaw is put together, pounds the strike zone with fastball, big curveball with shape

19. Austin Smith, RHP, Park Vista HS, FL (Florida Atlantic)
Big frame at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, can pitch in low 90s, flashes sharp breaking ball

22. Cole Sands, RHP, North Florida Christian HS, FL (Florida State)
Carson’s younger brother shows feel for changeup to complement low-90s fastball

23. Tristan McKenzie, RHP, Royal Palm Beach HS, FL (Vanderbilt)
Tall, skinny (6-foot-5, 160 pounds) righty is super loose, athletic with projectable fastball

28. Kyle Tucker, OF, Plant HS, FL (Florida)
Athletic, projectable frame with power for a corner spot

31. Desmond Lindsay, OF, Out-of-Door Academy, FL (North Carolina)
Quick-twitch athlete makes consistent contact and runs well

32. Julian Infante, 3B, Westminster Christian HS, FL (Vanderbilt)
Ball jumps off bat good, short swing; Possesses the arm strength for third base

34. Daniel Reyes, OF, Mater Academy, FL (Florida)
Good swing, strong frame produces big raw power

36. Ryan Mountcastle, 3B, Hagerty HS, FL (Central Florida)
Defense needs work, but bat stays in the zone and he consistently finds the barrel

42. Elih Marrero, C, Coral Gables HS, FL (Mississippi State)
Son of Eli, good defender behind the plate with short, quick swing from both sides

48. Jacob Woodford, RHP, Plant HS, FL (Florida)
Didn’t pitch much this summer, but throws heavy fastball in low 90s, flashes slider

The talent doesn’t stop there as several other prospects were worthy of consideration for the Top 50 and could certainly crack the list by the time it’s updated before the draft in June. Listed alphabetically, here are some other prospects to keep an eye on…

Logan Allen, LHP, IMG Academy, FL (South Carolina)
Durable frame, throws strikes with 85-87 fastball, big breaking curveball

Danny Blair, OF, IMG Academy, FL (South Carolina)
Hard-nosed player runs well and has good, short swing

Hunter Bowling, LHP, American Heritage-Delray HS, FL (Florida)
Tall, athletic southpaw pitches downhill with low-90s fastball, tight breaking ball

Chris Chatfield, OF, Spoto HS, FL (South Florida)
Raw talent with high upside, good bat speed produces power

Logan Crouse, RHP, Bloomingdale HS, FL (Florida State)
Pitches 88-90 with hard slider in the low 80s, throws strikes

Jason Heinrich, OF, River Ridge HS, FL (Central Florida)
Doesn’t look the part with rigid stance and arm bar, but routinely barrels balls

Jonathan India, SS, American Heritage HS, FL (Florida)
Ball can jump off his bat thanks to loose, strong hands

Tyrone Perry, 1B, Avon Park HS, FL (Florida State)
Big frame and strong lower half helps produce enormous raw power

Brady Singer, RHP, Eustis HS, FL (Florida)
Reaches low 90s from low-3/4 slot, secondary stuff developing

Thomas Szapucki, LHP, Dwyer HS, FL (Florida)
Strong, projectable southpaw sits 88-91, touching higher, to go with sharp breaking ball

L.T. Tolbert, SS, IMG Academy, FL (South Carolina)
All-around player moves well in the field, makes consistent contact

Sixto Torres, LHP, West Oaks Academy, FL (Alabama State)
Modest velocity (85-87) now, but has loose delivery and sharp curveball