College "1-toolers" are seemingly safe picks. Easy signs with limited upside that have a decent shot to contribute, they are seemingly the more Juan Pierre approach to drafting power (rarely swinging and missing, consistently OK picks). High school "1-toolers" are almost polar opposites. They will likely be a tougher sign, and if their one tool plays up you could be getting a huge steal. If the power is merely batting practice pop or killing weak competition, then the prospect may never see any success at any level.
Larry Greene (OF; GA) and Dan Vogelbach (1B; Ft. Myers, FL) have perhaps the most prodigious raw power in the draft. Greene is an absolute beast who garners Russ Branyan power comparisons that will likely be a below average fielder in an outfield corner or a firstbasemen/DH. His value lies exclusively in whether his raw power translates to game power, and if he can make the transition versus tougher pitching. Vogelbach is a lumbering, slow masher who wowed scouts with a 508 foot homer at the Power Showcase in December. He has an advanced approach for a high-school bat, but a bad body and questions about his athleticism worry scouts about his ultimate ceiling. He’ll have to continue to rake to ever get to the majors. C.J. Cron’s younger brother Kevin is a HS senior in a similar boat to Greene and Vogelbach. The HS 1B from Utah has shown the power and hitting potential to one day be the hitter his brother is, but as a right-handed hitting HS 1B he likely won’t be popped too early.
The other HS bats that have power and not much else will likely be in play in the second or third rounds if team’s think they’re signable and like their projection going forward. Travis Harrison (3B/1B, CA) hit a HR off Rockies top prospect Tyler Matzek as a freshman with a wood bat. He’s a big right-handed hitter with power potential who could stick at third and possibly hit for average (or neither) with a USC commitment. Tyler Gibson (OF, GA) is a coach’s son who has good power potential and could be a decent fielder in an OF corner. He’s tall with a good build that bodes well for his hitting ability, but some scouts wonder just how far his bat will carry him. He’s got a Georgia Tech commitment, but he’d likely be signable if picked early enough because a team can project his bat favorably. Dante Bichette Jr. profiles much like his father. A future corner outfielder with good power potential and a decent hit-tool, he’ll likely lack the 30-30 season his father put together, but if he gains the approach his father could never figure out he could also be an All-Star in a corner. Billy Flamion (CA) and Carl Thomore (NJ) round out the HS all-bat prospects. Both OFs with decent speed in the corner will have to hit to make it to the majors. Both have seemingly great make-up with grinder, football mentalities that could allow their defense and baserunning to exceed their tools. Questions about their hit tool limit them to a little later than their above average power would project. These prospects could go as high as the sandwich round if teams really buy their projection and have a pre-draft deal in place, or they could fall quite far if teams don’t think they’ll sign.
Projecting future power in high school prospects is hard even when they show it in games. Projecting it solely off of perceived athleticism and bat speed can get tricky. While generally less refined than their college counterparts, more toolsy high school draft prospects can end up with even higher upside. This group is the home of young players that look like they should excel at many facets of the game. The first two, Granden Goetzman (Palmetto, FL) and Matt Dean (TX) play short for their high school teams, though neither look like they’ll stick. Goetzman garners Jayson Werth comps because of his smooth right-handed stroke that looks like it will develop considerable power. His size, athleticism, arm, and future position bolster the Werth comps as he should be a plus defender in right that might be able to handle center. Dean’s also a right-handed hitter that will likely move off SS. Ideally his future home is at the hot corner where he should have the arm strength and instincts to stick. He has plenty of loft on his swing that allows scouts to project good power on his swing assuming his 6-2, 190 lb. frame fills out.
While Goetzman and Dean show plenty of skill now to go along with their plus tools, two northeastern high school outfielders have shown the tools to hit for power as well as other things: Williams Jerez (Brooklyn, NY) and Derek Fisher (Lebanon, PA). Jerez is a lefty with a big arm that originally drew interest as a pitcher. He has a great body, and scouts can see where all his tools could be plus. The issue, though, is he’s very raw as he just came to the states from the Dominican Republic two years ago. Scouts are split on his ultimate ceiling, but those that do like him love his tools and potential. Derek Fisher is a similar case. He was in the mix as a potential first round talent to start the year, but his struggles this year and limited exposure due to weather have some feeling that they may not have seen enough. He has a UVA commitment, so he could be a tough sign. His big frame, power potential, and good overall athleticism could make him a good pick if a team can project on his strengths. Both of these northeastern prospects have questions that are relatively common for high schoolers not from the Sun Belt, lack of exposure and refinement, and they might be decent pops later if the Rays think they can reach a deal.
Johnny Eierman (MO) and Senquez Golson (MS) are your typical high school, raw, toolsy outfielders. Eirman is a great athlete with plus footspeed. He has a quick right-handed bat that projects to hit for power. His issues are primarily due a lack of polish. His approach is poor and he’s struggled against better pitching. He can get too aggressive in games, but he’s shown big talent in batting practice and drills. Similarly, Golson is a HUGE athlete. He’s expected to start as a freshman in centerfield for the Rebels baseball team and corner back for the football team if he makes it to Ole Miss. Obviously, he has plus-plus speed and he’s very strong. He has a short swing with great bat speed that should add power. Like Eierman, he struggled against higher caliber pitching, but he’s a two-sport athlete whose concentration has been primarily on the gridiron. If Golson is deemed signable he could go fairly high, but with a football position locked up he may be a tough one to get signed.
These high school position prospects that have or project to have good power will have some of the highest upside in the draft. They also have some of the biggest questions. The front office and scouting personal make their hay by being able to identify players who not only have the future skills you are looking for but also will sign on the dotted line. That’s one thing we as analysts really miss out on, who will sign with whom and when. With these high school position players, and the college ones we profiled previously, we have a decent understanding of where the Rays may find power in the first few rounds. With 10 picks in the first 2 rounds, the Rays could nab a few power prospects from across the spectrum to address the dearth of power in the system. That many picks allows them to take some chances on higher risk/reward types.