April 28, 2008

The Major League Baseball amateur draft is still five weeks away, but many of the best high school seniors in the country are putting the finishing touches on their already impressive resumes.

Here's a rundown of the nation's top high school prospects and where they could land in the draft.

Tim Beckham, SS, Griffin High (Kennesaw, Ga.)

Considered by many to be the top high school player in the country, Beckham is a smooth athlete who has all the tools to be a big-time player at shortstop. He runs well, hits with some power, is already a top-notch fielder and has a smooth stroke that could turn him into a tremendous offensive player. His speed, his defense, and the position he plays has many Major League scouts salivating. Beckham has signed with Southern California, but don't expect him to make it to become a Trojan. He's a little raw, but he's too good to pass up.

Prediction: Top 5 pick

Eric Hosmer, 1B, American Heritage School (Cooper City, Fla.)

Hosmer is the best high school power hitter in the country. At 6-foot-4, the left-handed Hosmer has the potential to become a home run hitter at the next level. Although a little suspect with the glove, his potential for power is great enough to get him into the Top 10. However, he is represented by Scott Boras, who's clients tend to fall in the draft out of fear of rough negotiations.

Prediction: Top 10 pick

Gerritt Cole, RHP, Orange Lutheran High (Santa Ana, Calif.)

Cole has the best pure stuff of any high school pitcher. He can throw 95 mph, has a biting breaking ball that comes in the low 80s and is developing a change-up. He throws a heavy sinking fastball that will break a lot of bats at the next level. Cole's control is sometimes scattershot, but that should improve as his mechanics get better. An aggressive competitor with a three-quarters delivery, there is some question as to whether Cole's future lies as a front of the rotation starter or a back of the bullpen closer.

Prediction: Top 10 pick

Tim Melville, RHP, Holt High (Wentzville, Mo.)

Melville, who has signed with North Carolina, would also be a corner-infield prospect if he didn't throw a 95-mph fastball and a fantastic curve. A prototype starting pitcher with great size (6-5, 205 pounds), a big arm and a low-effort delivery, he pitches more than he throws. Although his stuff is a little weaker than Cole's, the smoothness of his delivery and his front-of-the-rotation potential may make him a safer pick.

Prediction: Top 10 pick

Kyle Skipworth, C, Patriot High (Riverside, Calif.)

Skipworth is a left-handed hitting catcher who is a better hitter than a catcher at this point. Most catchers at this stage of their development are good receivers who have to learn how to be good hitters. His defense is improving, but make no mistake, it is his smooth left-handed power swing that will keep Skipworth in the top half of the first round.

Prediction: Top 15 pick

Kyle Lobstein, LHP, Coconino High (Flagstaff, Ariz.)

Outside of the University of San Diego's Brian Matusz, Lobstein is the best left-handed pitching prospect in the 2008 draft. He has a low-90s fastball, with a solid change and good breaking ball, all of which he can throw consistently for strikes. At 6-3, 180, he already has a major league body. Although his ceiling may not be as high as Cole or Melville's, he is the most complete high school pitcher in the draft.

Prediction: Top 10 pick

Casey Kelly, SS, Sarasota (Fla.) High

Kelly's a quality pitcher, but his future at the next level probably lies in the infield, just like his father, Pat, who played eight years in the majors. Casey has a smooth swing and could develop into a top-notch power hitter. Some scouts say he will eventually shifted from shortstop to third base. Kelly also signed with the University of Tennessee as a quarterback. The lure of SEC football makes him the player most likely on this list to actually attend college and could lead to him falling on some draft boards.

Prediction: Top 20 pick

Anthony Gose, LHP, Bellflower High (Bellflower, Calif.)

With a good fastball and breaking ball, Gose also has potential as an outfielder, but he's extremely raw and could use a little more seasoning. Most likely a bullpen guy at the next level. He has signed with Arizona.

Prediction: Late first round pick

Aaron Hicks, OF, RHP, Wilson High (Long Beach, Calif.)

One of the more intriguing prospects in the draft, Hicks has good speed and above-average power potential, but he also has a 94 mph fastball and a good curveball. He lacks control and his offensive skills are extremely raw. He might end up at USC.

You May Like