Draft Prospect Q&A Rumors

Draft Prospect Q&A: Braxton Davidson

MLBTR is re-launching its Draft Prospect Q&A series this season in order to give our readers a look at some of the top names on the board in this year’s draft. MLBTR will be chatting with some of the draft’s most well-regarded prospects over the next couple of weeks as they prepare for the 2014 draft on June 5-7.

In a draft that’s light on impact college bats, many clubs will be looking toward the high school ranks in search of adding some thump to their lineup down the road, and first baseman/outfielder Braxton Davidson of T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, N.C., figures to be one of the top prep bats off the board in the 2014 draft.

Braxton Davidson

The 6’3″, 215-pound Davidson boasts a strong left-handed swing and the ability to drive the ball to all fields, per scouting reports. Both Baseball America and MLB.com rank him 36th among draft prospects, while ESPN’s Keith Law is even more bullish, pegging him as the No. 16 prospect in the 2014 draft class.

Davidson’s pop drew quite a bit of attention at last June’s Tournament of the Stars, as noted by both BA and MLB.com in their scouting reports. He set a tournament record with three homers in four games, including one that traveled an estimated 500 feet. BA notes that improvements in his hit tool this season may have that tool ahead of his power in game action, and Law notes that he has “no wasted motion” in his swing when he’s at his best.

Davidson was kind enough to take some time out of a very busy schedule for a phone interview with me and discuss improvements to his game over the past year, his defensive preferences and his close relationship with a current big leaguer…

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Draft Prospect Q&A: Aaron Nola

MLBTR is re-launching its Draft Prospect Q&A series this season in order to give our readers a look at some of the top names on the board in this year’s draft. MLBTR will be chatting with some of the draft’s most well-regarded prospects over the next couple of weeks as they prepare for the 2014 draft on June 5-7.

This season, LSU powered their way to the Regional Final round of the NCAA Tournament thanks in large part to the pitching performances of ace Aaron Nola.  While the Tigers were eliminated on Monday night by Houston, the 6’2″, 195 pound right-hander is on the verge of realizing his lifelong dream in Thursday night’s draft.  Nola has probably been baseball’s most dominant pitcher over the last two seasons and appears to be a lock for the top ten.

NCAA Baseball: Baton Rouge Super Regional-Oklahoma at Louisiana State

With a laser-guided 95 mph fastball, a plus curveball, and an ever-improving changeup, Nola pitched to a 1.57 ERA with 8.71 K/9 and 1.29 BB/9 in his sophomore season.  For an encore, he followed that up with a 1.47 ERA, an even stronger 10.37 K/9, and a still stingy 2.09 BB/9 in 2014.  In short, Nola has been absolutely stellar over the last two years for the Tigers and is viewed as one of the most surefire talents in this year’s class.

It’s safe to say that Nola is more familiar with the draft process than 99% of prospects out there.  The righty was picked by the Blue Jays in 2011 and watched his brother Austin, a talented shortstop, get drafted twice before signing with the Marlins, who selected him in the fifth round of the 2012 draft.  Reportedly being advised by Joe Longo of Paragon Sports, Nola is ranked No. 6 by MLB.com, No. 7 by Baseball America, and No. 10 by ESPN.com’s Keith Law.  On Tuesday, Nola took time out of his busy schedule to talk with MLBTradeRumors about his impressive body of work and what he’ll bring to the table at the major league level:
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Draft Prospect Q&A: Jacob Gatewood

MLBTR is re-launching its Draft Prospect Q&A series this season in order to give our readers a look at some of the top names on the board in this year’s draft. MLBTR will be chatting with some of the draft’s most well-regarded prospects over the next couple of weeks as they prepare for the 2014 draft on June 5-7.

There are few prospects with more power potential in the 2014 draft than California prep shortstop Jacob Gatewood. The Clovis High School product turned heads last summer when he won the All-Star Game Junior Home Run Derby at Citi Field, and for good measure, he turned around and won the Under Armour All-American Game’s Home Run Derby at Wrigley Field as well a few months later.

Jacob Gatewood

A shortstop by trade, Gatewood stands at 6’5″ and weighs in at 180 pounds, so it’s reasonable to think that more power might be in the offing as he fills out. ESPN’s Keith Law, who ranks Gatewood as the draft’s No. 15 prospect, agrees with that line of thinking, as he gave Gatewood a 55 for his current power (on the 20-80 scouting scale) and graded his future power potential at 65. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis, who ranked Gatewood 22nd overall, graded his power at 65. Baseball America ranked him 21st overall and said his raw power is “at least 70-grade.”

There have been some concerns about Gatewood’s hit tool, but he’s quelled some of that concern by “quieting a hand hitch and and [making] mechanical adjustments” this spring, according to BA. Gatewood took some time last week to talk with MLBTradeRumors about his future at shortstop, last season’s Home Run Derby triumphs and the advice he received from some of the game’s top players at last year’s All-Star festivities.

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Draft Prospect Q&A: Michael Chavis

MLBTR is re-launching its Draft Prospect Q&A series this season in order to give our readers a look at some of the top names on the board in this year’s draft. MLBTR will be chatting with some of the draft’s most well-regarded prospects over the next couple of weeks as they prepare for the 2014 draft on June 5-7.

Michael Chavis

Scouts see Georgia high school prospect Michael Chavis as someone who can do it all thanks to his well-rounded skill set as well as his versatility.  Chavis spent most of his career at Sprayberry High School at the shortstop position but he also boasts arm strength that can allow him to play anywhere in the infield.  He’s got the speed to play second base or stick at shortstop, and while he has a bit of experience behind the plate and in the outfield, most say his big league future is at third base.  The Clemson commit is ranked No. 21 by MLB.com, No. 26 by Baseball America, and No. 27 by ESPN.com’s Keith Law.

The first-round prospect left high school on a high note, slashing .557/.580/.663 with 13 homers in his senior season.  At the plate, Chavis flashed his plus bat speed as well as his plus raw power, which helped him to win the Perfect Game Home Run Derby over other notable prospects such as Alex Jackson, Braxton Davidson, and Michael Gettys.

The charismatic and confident young man spoke with MLBTradeRumors recently about what position he wants to ultimately play, the prospect of going to Clemson, and more:

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Draft Prospect Q&A: Nick Gordon

MLBTR is re-launching its Draft Prospect Q&A series this season in order to give our readers a look at some of the top names on the board in this year’s draft. MLBTR will be chatting with some of the draft’s most well-regarded prospects over the next couple of weeks as they prepare for the 2014 draft on June 5-7.

Florida’s Nick Gordon is universally regarded as the best shortstop in the 2014 draft and, according to some, is the best position player prospect in the draft.  With a pedigree like his, it’s no surprise.  Gordon is the son of three-time All-Star right-hander Tom “Flash” Gordon and the younger brother of Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon.  While his father made his mark in the game and Dee continues to see his star rise, all signs point to Nick making a terrific legacy of his own in the years to come. image-2

At 6’2″, 170, Gordon exhibits tremendous speed both on defense and around the base paths.  Of course, he also boasts a terrific arm for the shortstop position and, in fact, many believe that he could pursue pitching if he wanted to.  At the plate, the Olympia High School star projects to be an above-average hitter, but his intangibles and makeup have scouts drooling just as much as his physical tools.

In 27 games last season, Gordon, reportedly being advised by Beverly Hills Sports Council, which also represented father Tom “Flash” Gordon and represents brother Dee, posted an absurd slash line of .494/.576/.843 in 99 plate appearances and stole 13 bases.  The youngster has had the attention of college scouts and pro scouts alike for years, but his senior season helped to boost his stock even further.

Gordon, ranked as the fourth-best prospect in the draft by ESPN.com’s Keith Law, No. 5 by MLB.com, and No. 7 by Baseball America, spoke with MLBTradeRumors late last week about the draft process, the possibility of going No. 1 overall, and what he’s learned from watching his father and brother:

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Draft Prospect Q&A: Nick Burdi

MLBTR is re-launching its Draft Prospect Q&A series this season in order to give our readers a look at some of the top names on the board in this year’s draft. MLBTR will be chatting with some of the draft’s most well-regarded prospects over the next couple of weeks as they prepare for the 2014 draft on June 5-7.

Teams looking to draft a future closer with serious velocity will be taking a long look at Louisville pitcher Nick Burdi.  In fact, with a fastball that hits 96-100 mph on the radar gun, Burdi stands as the hardest thrower in college.  To complement the heat, Burdi also boasts a plus slider that can develop into a premium pitch.

NCAA Baseball: Louisville Regional-Miami vs Louisville

You could say that hard throwing runs in the family.  Burdi’s older brother, Drew, was a quarterback at Western Michigan.  His younger brother, Zack, is a promising pitcher in his own right for the Cardinals.  Burdi has shown that he can hold that velocity over two- and three-inning outings, leading some to believe that he could blossom into a starter.  Baseball America has Burdi pegged as the No. 27 prospect in the draft, MLB.com has him ranked at No. 34, and ESPN.com’s Keith Law has him at No. 52.  Burdi spoke with MLBTradeRumors on Friday about his skill set, whether he’d be interested in starting, and more:

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Draft Prospect Q&A: Bradley Zimmer

MLBTR is re-launching its Draft Prospect Q&A series this season in order to give our readers a look at some of the top names on the board in this year’s draft. MLBTR will be chatting with some of the draft’s most well-regarded prospects over the next couple of weeks as they prepare for the 2014 draft on June 5-7.

University of San Francisco center fielder Bradley Zimmer is considered by some to be the best college position player in this year’s draft. The brother of Royals prospect and 2012 No. 5 overall pick, Kyle Zimmer, Bradley is ranked as the fifth-best prospect in this draft class by ESPN’s Keith Law (ESPN Insider subscription required and recommended). Baseball America has Zimmer ranked 14th, and MLB.com currently ranks him No. 10.

Bradley Zimmer

The 6’5″, 205-pound Zimmer put himself on the prospect map with an outstanding sophomore season in 2013 when he slashed .320/.437/.512 with 29 walks with seven home runs against just 31 strikeouts in 58 games.

He’s followed up that breakout campaign with an even more impressive .368/.461/.573 batting line to go along with seven homers, seven triples and 10 doubles. Once again, he’s walking (31 times) almost as often as he strikes out (34), and he’s swiped 21 bases in 32 tries in 2014. Bradley was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to talk with MLBTR last week:

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Draft Prospect Q&A: Anthony Rendon

As the 2011 Draft draws closer, MLBTR will be introducing you to a handful of the top eligible prospects with a series of Q&As. The series includes four of the top college pitchers in the nation and a top college position player. Here's another position player to watch.

Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon is considered the top college position player in the 2011 draft and he remains a candidate to be the first overall pick this June. Both Baseball America and ESPN.com have reported within the week that it appears Rendon will either go first overall (to the Pirates) or second (to the Mariners) with UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole going to the other team.

Rendon entered the season as the top prospect in the draft after being named Baseball America's Player of the Year in 2010 and the publication's Freshman of the Year in 2009. Ankle and shoulder injuries have slowed Rendon down this year and limited his time at third base, where he is considered an excellent defender. The 20-year-old Houston native shines at the plate as well and has a .350/.552/.552 line with 62 walks so far this season.

I spoke to Rendon earlier today about his injuries, the team he rooted for growing up and the hype surrounding the draft. Here's a transcript of our conversation:

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Draft Prospect Q&A: Danny Hultzen

As the 2011 Draft draws closer, MLBTR will be introducing you to a handful of the top eligible prospects with a series of Q&As. The series started with three of the top college pitchers in the nation and a top college position player. Here's another arm to watch.

Hultzen

Danny Hultzen was the ACC pitcher of the year and a semi-finalist for the Golden Spikes Award last year, but even he is a little surprised by how well the 2011 season is going. The Virginia left-hander has helped lead the Cavaliers to a 36-3 record and the top ranking in the country thanks to his arm and his bat.

Baseball America's Midseason Player of the Year is climbing up draft boards and may be the third-best draft prospect in the country behind Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole. ESPN.com's Keith Law reported last week that the D'Backs, Orioles and Royals are among the teams eyeing Hultzen. Anyone picking much later on can likely forget about him, since he doesn't figure to be available for long.

Earlier today I spoke to the 21-year-old about his team's title hopes, his two-way play and the draft. Here's what he had to say:

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Draft Prospect Q&A: George Springer

As the 2011 Draft draws closer, MLBTR will be introducing you to a handful of the top eligible prospects with a series of Q&As. The series started with three of the top college pitchers in the nation and continues today with a college position player.

Teams looking for powerful outfielders with speed to spare will be intrigued by George Springer of the UConn Huskies. The 6'4" 21-year-old has improved his draft stock dramatically since the Twins selected him in the 48th round of the 2008 draft; Springer is now a projected first round pick.

Springer

In its college baseball preview, Baseball America described Springer as one of the nation's best power hitters, who's a superb defender and a "plus-plus" runner to boot. 

He hit 18 homers with 33 steals, 60 walks, 84 runs and a .491 on-base average last year, prompting ESPN.com's Keith Law to rate him second among eligible prospects last month. Law described Springer as "an athletic outfielder with an above-average arm who projects to hit and hit for power and just needs to refine his approach, especially with two strikes." 

Springer started slowly and some said to ESPN that he changed his mechanics. After collecting just three hits in his first six games (22 at bats), Springer appears to have rediscovered his stroke, as his numbers are on the rise.

He spoke with MLBTR after UConn's loss to Sacred Heart today. Here's what he had to say:

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