High-SchoolBaseball: MLB Draft

Louisville Slugger Top 20 Area Code arms

August, 16, 2012
8/16/12
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Area Code Baseball, Texas Rangers, high school baseball, casey meisnerScott Kurtz/ESPNHSCy-Woods (Cypress, Texas) righty Casey Meisner proved to be one of the top pitchers at the 2012 Area Code Baseball Games.


After another strong week at the Area Code Baseball Games in Long Beach, Calif., the top 20 pitchers of the event are released. One noticeable difference this year, regarding the pitchers, was the balance of the arms came from a couple of teams, the Brewers and Athletics.

Schutt Impact Player of the Day: Aug. 7

August, 8, 2012
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LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Kyle Devin had an outstanding two-way performance for the New York Yankees on Tuesday at the 2012 Area Code Baseball Games despite the 11-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

The 6-foot-1, 210 pound lefty hitting senior from Lynn Classical, Mass., threw out three runners attempting to steal second – including two in the top of the fourth inning-- and on offense had two singles, a walk and a pair of RBI.

Devin, who has committed to Stony Brook (N.Y.), hit .431 with 20 RBI and two home runs for Lynn Classical as a junior. He is also a standout in hockey, being recognized the last two seasons as an All-Conference honoree.

New Balance Players of the Day: Aug. 7

August, 8, 2012
8/08/12
1:34
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New Balance
New Balance Baseball

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Michael Hoard sparked the Reds' 4-3 win over the A's with a two-run home run over the right field fence in the first game at the Area Code Games on Tuesday.

Hoard, a 6-foot lefty hitter from Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Ariz.), launched a drive that easily cleared the wall around the 360-foot mark and staked the Reds to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.

The rising senior went 1-for-2 with a walk and run scored. The home run was the third in as many days at the Long Beach State's Blair Field, usually a tough park in which to hit a round-tripper.

Hoard is committed to Arizona and hit .460 with 49 RBI, 17 doubles and eight home runs this spring for his high school team.

Off the field the infielder helps at the Marana Food Bank. He also has a brother who is a member of the Army Special Forces and has served two tours in Afghanistan.

Yankees vs. White Sox

The White Sox reached double figures in runs, including eight in the first three innings and went on to defeat the Yankees, 10-4.

Accounting for three of the runs was pitcher/first baseman A.J. Puk, a 6-foot-6, 205-pound lefty from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Puk went 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs.

Coming from a family of athletes — his mother was a gymnast at Missouri and his father played football at Minnesota — the rising senior hit .500 for his high school team despite being hindered with a thumb injury.

Puk has committed to play baseball at Florida.

Rangers vs. Nationals

The key to the Rangers 6-4 win over the Nationals was the all-around play of table setter Nicholas Buckner.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound outfielder went 3-for-4 at the plate with two singles, a double, three RBIs and two steals.

The Houston commit from Pearland, Texas, also shined for his North Shore High team this spring as he hit .500 with 10 home runs.

Speed runs in the Buckner family: his older brother, Cameron, ran the first leg of North Shore's state-title-winning 4x400 relay.

Brewers vs. Royals

Stephen Gonsalves showed why he’s one of the top high school pitchers in the nation as he threw three scoreless innings to start the game in the Brewers 5-4 win over the Royals.

Gonsalves, a 6-foot-5, 185-pound southpaw from Cathedral Catholic (San Marcos, Calif.) allowed only a bunt hit, a walk and a hit batter while striking out five and topping out at 91 mph on the radar gun.

This spring he went 10-0 with a 1.91 ERA for Cathedral. He’s committed to San Diego.

New Balance honors the players who “Grind and Shine” and know how to play the game the right way … every play

Schutt Impact Player of the Day: Aug. 6

August, 7, 2012
8/07/12
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Shutt, Area Code
ESPNHS/ESPNHSShutt Impact Player of the Day

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Ronnie Healy showed his extra-base power in the opening game on Monday, leading the Washington Nationals to a 12-3 win over the New York Yankees with a double, triple and four RBIs.

The 6-foot, 200-pound senior-to-be hit .356 with three home runs and 22 RBI this spring for Jupiter (Fla.).

Healey, a lefty hitter, is currently uncommitted.

Tellez leads Athletics in Long Beach

July, 13, 2012
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Nationals team announced

July, 11, 2012
7/11/12
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Jameis WinstonDustin Snipes/ESPNHSJameis Winston of Hueytown (Ala.) was drafted in the 15th round by the Texas Rangers. The nation's No. 1 quarterback is expected to play both football and baseball at Florida State.
The first day of the 2012 MLB draft had a definite high school feel to it with 35 prep prospects getting drafted on Monday, highlighted by Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa going No. 1 overall to Houston and Appling County (Baxley, Ga.) outfielder Byron Buxton following at No. 2 to Minnesota.

But while the first day of the draft was filled with plenty of star power, the last two days featured plenty of intriguing high school storylines. Here were the best of the bunch.

Can I Graduate?

Providence (Charlotte, N.C.) senior right-hander Ty Buttrey created quite a stir when his family revealed he wouldn’t be able to walk with his graduating class. The mix-up occurred when Buttrey, a fourth-round pick of the Boston Red Sox and the No. 25 player in the ESPN 100, skipped graduation rehearsal to negotiate a deal with an MLB team because no cell phones were permitted at the rehearsal.

Apparently, though, it was all a miscommunication, as Buttrey was ultimately allowed by his high school principal to walk with his class, according to WBTV News in Charlotte.

Two-Sport Stars

There were plenty of questions of how far Jameis Winston of Hueytown (Ala.) and Anthony Alford of Petal (Miss.) would fall in the draft because of their football commitments.

Winston, who’s rated the nation’s No. 1 quarterback in the ESPN 150, signed with Florida State is expected to play both football and baseball there. He’s rated the nation’s No. 71 baseball player in the ESPN 100.

Alford, the nation’s No. 95 football recruit in the ESPN 150 and No. 29 baseball prospect in the ESPN 100, signed with Southern Mississippi.

Winston, an outfielder and right-handed pitcher, was drafted in the 15th round by Texas, while Alford was selected in the third round by Toronto.

The Rangers told ESPN Dallas they were hopeful Winston would choose to play for them in the offseason once Florida State’s football season was over, like Russell Wilson did at NC State and Kyle Parker did at Clemson.

Meanwhile, Grant (Sacramento, Calif.) senior Shaq Thompson, a Washington football recruit rated the nation’s No. 3 safety in the ESPN 150, was drafted in the 18th round by the Boston Red Sox. What’s intriguing about that is Thompson didn’t even play baseball his junior year and played sparingly as a sophomore. But Thompson told The Sacramento Bee he plans on signing with the Red Sox, though he’ll still honor his commitment to the Huskies.

Where’s Kyle Carter?

Columbus (Ga.) senior outfielder/left-handed pitcher Kyle Carter enjoyed a phenomenal 2012 campaign, hitting 14 homers and going 12-2 on the bump with a 0.98 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 86 innings to help the Blue Devils to their third straight state title and 12th overall. Columbus is No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

With a season like that, the Georgia recruit figured he’d go in the first few rounds. But after 40 rounds, he didn’t get drafted at all.

What gives?

Carter told the Ledger-Enquirer that after he wasn’t drafted in the second round, he told teams he was heading to Georgia.

Another player who fell for what is believed to be signability issues is Camarillo (Calif.) left-hander Hunter Virant, who lasted until the 11th round, when he was selected by Houston. Virant is a UCLA commitment.

When asked about UCLA or the Astros, Virant told the Ventura County Star, "The Astros still need to put together some money, so you never know. Right now the only sure thing is UCLA. But it's a win-win no matter what happens with those options."

Injuries and Arm Trouble

A few top prospects fell in the draft due to injury issues, most notably Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.) infielder Rio Ruiz. Once considered a potential first-round pick, Ruiz had a blood clot removed from his clavicle this spring and missed most of his senior season. A USC commit, Ruiz was selected in the fourth round by Houston.

Meanwhile, Bolles School (Jacksonville, Fla.) right-hander Hayden Hurst, who had Tommy John surgery as an eighth-grader, lasted until the 17th round, where he was selected by Pittsburgh.

While we're on the topic of arms, the three pitchers we featured last week in our article on high pitch counts Emerson Gibbs of Jesuit (New Orleans), Mitch Sewald of Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, La.) and Willie Nastasi of Barnstable (Mass.) — weren't drafted at all. Gibbs and Sewald combined to throw 347 pitches in a game this April, while Nastasi tossed 155 pitches of his own in one start.

No word whether those high pitch counts scared off teams, but they couldn't have helped.

No Pressure, Kid

There are a lot of expectations heaped on sons of big leaguers. Now imagine you got drafted by the team your dad starred for.

That's what Ryan Ripken is facing. The Gilman (Baltimore) first baseman and South Carolina recruit was drafted in the 20th round by the Baltimore Orioles, the same squad his dad, Cal Jr., delivered a Hall of Fame career for. Ryan hit .377 and was 4-1 as a pitcher this year for Gilman.

Meanwhile, Tate Matheny, the son of St. Louis manager Mike Matheny, was drafted by the Cardinals in the 23rd round. The senior center fielder and Missouri State recruit hit .610 with 11 homers, 51 RBIs and 25 stolen bases this season for Westminster Christian (Town & Country, Mo.), leading the team to a second straight state title.

The Starting Nine: June 7th edition

June, 7, 2012
6/07/12
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Stephen GonsalvesBrian Westerholt/Four Seam Images via AP ImagesJunior left-hander Stephen Gonsalves, the No. 5 player in the ESPN 60, went 10-0 this year and helped lead Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) to its second straight section title.
ESPNHS continues its search for the nation’s top high school baseball player, regardless of school year and based solely on on-field performance. Every two weeks, we’ll rank the nine players in order in The Starting Nine. And at the end of the season, whoever is in the top spot will be crowned The Diamond Gem, our award given to the nation’s most outstanding player.

There’s one more week to go in the high school baseball season, which means this year’s campaign for the top spot in The Starting Nine is nearing an end. Courtney Hawkins is still making a push for the top of The Starting Nine and will lead Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas) into the Class 5A state semifinals on Thursday night.

Meanwhile, pair of talented underclassmen — junior left-hander Stephen Gonsalves of Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) and sophomore right-hander Kyle Marsh — joined The Starting Nine thanks to outstanding seasons.

Check back on June 21 to see how the final Starting Nine plays out.

The Starting Nine — June 7th Edition

Through games of June 4

1. Byron Buxton, Appling County (Baxley, Ga.)
OF/RHP, Senior
Previous spot:
No. 1
What he’s done: The No. 1 player in the ESPN 100 capped off his high school career by striking out 18 in a decisive third-game victory over Pierce County (Blackshear, Ga.) in the Class AA state championship. Buxton finished the year hitting .513 with a .628 on-base percentage, three homers, 35 RBIs, 17 doubles, 68 runs scored and 38 stolen bases. He was 10-1 on the mound with a 1.90 ERA, five saves and 154 strikeouts in 81 innings. Buxton was drafted No. 2 overall by Minnesota. Season complete.

2. Lance McCullers Jr., Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
RHP/SS
Previous spot:
No. 2
What he’s done: The Gatorade National Player of the Year allowed just two earned runs all season while going 13-0 with a 0.18 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 77.1 innings. Opponents hit just .106 off McCullers, who also hit two homers and had 21 RBIs and led Jesuit to the Class 5A state semifinals. The No. 7 player in the ESPN 100 was drafted No. 41 overall by Houston. Season complete.

3. Kyle Carter, Columbus (Ga.)
OF/LHP, Senior
Previous spot:
No. 4
What he’s done: Carter played a huge role in Columbus, No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50, earning its third straight state title and 12th overall this season. Rated No. 58 in the ESPN 100, Carter went 12-2 with a 0.98 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 86 innings. He also hit .302 with 14 homers and 31 RBIs. Season complete.

4. Gavin Cecchini, Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
SS, Senior
Previous Spot:
No. 5
What he’s done: A first-round pick of the New York Mets, Cecchini hit at a .467 clip this year while using a wood bat for the majority of the season. Named Gatorade State Player of the Year for the second straight season, Cecchini also had a .527 OBP, seven homers, 32 RBIs and 31 stolen bases while leading Barbe to the Class 5A state championship. Season complete.

5. Courtney Hawkins, Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas)
RHP/OF
Previous spot:
No. 6
What he’s done: Hawkins and Carroll face A&M Consolidated in the Class 5A state semifinals on Thursday. Rated No. 5 in the ESPN 100, Hawkins carried into the game a .437 average, 11 homers and 39 RBIs. He is 5-2 on the mound with a 0.96 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 36.1 innings. Hawkins, who was named Gatorade State Player of the Year, Hawkins was drafted No. 13 overall by the Chicago White Sox.

6. Kyle Marsh, Spruce Creek (Port Orange, Fla.)
RHP, Sophomore
Previous spot:
Not ranked
What he’s done: Marsh was spectacular in leading Spruce Creek, No. 8 in this week’s FAB 50, to a Class 8A state title. He was particularly impressive in postseason play, throwing a perfect game in the district semifinals, a no-hitter in the regional quarterfinals, a two-hitter against then-FAB 50 No. 1 Olympia (Orlando, Fla.) in the regional finals and another two-hitter in the state semifinals. The Central Florida commit finished 11-0 with a 0.43 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 72.2 innings while pitching in Florida’s highest classification. Season complete.

7. Ty Hensley, Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.)
RHP, Senior

Previous spot: No. 7
What he’s done: The first-round pick of the New York Yankees went 10-0 this season in leading Santa Fe to the Class 6A state semifinals. Hensley, who was named Gatorade State Player of the Year, fanned 111 in just 55.1 innings and was also a force at the plate, hitting .447 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs. Season complete.

8. Joey Gallo, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
3B/RHP, Senior
Previous spot:
No. 8
What he’s done: The power-hitting Gallo slugged 21 homers this season while hitting .509 and driving in 80. The No. 11 player in the ESPN 100 had four multi-homer games and led Gorman to its seventh consecutive state title. The Gatorade State Player of the Year was drafted No. 39 overall by the Texas Rangers. Season complete.

9. Stephen Gonsalves, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego)
LHP, Junior
Previous spot:
Not ranked
What he’s done: Rated No. 5 in the ESPN 60, the 6-foot-5 southpaw pitched a three-hitter with 8 K’s to lead the Dons to their second straight CIF San Diego Section Division III title with a 3-1 win over El Capitan (Lakeside, Calif.). Gonsalves finished the year 10-0 and struck out 79 in 66 innings. Season complete.

Dropped Out

No. 3 Wyatt Mathisen, Calallen (Corpus Christi, Texas)
C/SS/RHP, Senior

Mathisen had a tremendous year, hitting .433 with three homers and 40 RBIs while going 11-1 on the mound with seven saves and 98 strikeouts in 79 innings. But he struggled in a season-ending loss to Boerne-Champion (Boerne, Texas) in the Class 4A regional semifinals. Mathisen allowed two earned runs (four total) and six hits over seven innings and went 0-for-3 at the dish. Season complete.

No. 9 Ty Moore, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
RHP, Senior

Hard to knock the Gatorade State Player of the Year for what he did the entire season — hitting .406 with three homers and 23 RBIs and going 12-1 with a 0.83 ERA. But like Mathisen, he struggled in his last game, going 1-for-4 in an upset loss to Newbury Park (Calif.) in the CIF Southern Section Division I semifinals. Season complete.

On Deck

Matt Olson, Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.)
1B/RHP, Senior

What he’s done: Olson led the Panthers to their second straight Class AAAAA state title with a two-game sweep of Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.). Olson outdueled first-round pick Lucas Sims on the mound and added a two-run homer in the first game and then hit the game-winning homer in the second. He finished the season with a .407 averaged, 11 homers and 52 RBIs and went 12-1 with a 1.64 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 85.1 innings. Rated No. 97 in the ESPN 100, Olson was drafted No. 47 overall by the Oakland A’s. Season complete.

Taylor Hawkins
C, Carl Albert (Midwest City, Okla.)
What he's done:
Hawkins was dominant this season, hitting .391 with 28 homers and 81 RBIs in leading Carl Albert to its third state title in six years. Hawkins was drafted in the 12th round by Tampa Bay. Season complete.
Lance McCullersMike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP ImagesGatorade National Player of the Year Lance McCullers of Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.) slipped to the Astros in the sandwich round likely due to signability concerns.
High school prospects figured heavily into Monday night's MLB draft, with Puerto Rican prep shortstop Carlo Correa going No. 1 overall in a surprise pick by the Houston Astros and Georgia outfielder Byron Buxton going No. 2 to the Minnesota Twins. In all, 35 high schoolers were drafted out of the 60 picks on Day 1.

Correa became the first Puerto Rican player to be picked No. 1 in the MLB draft. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound native of Santa Isabel has a powerful bat and good speed. Given his size and position, some scouts couldn't help but compare him to a young Alex Rodriguez. Buxton also earned some pretty impressive comparisons throughout the draft process, with names like Justin Upton and Andrew McCutchen being thrown around. The 6-1, 175-pound outfielder burst onto the scene with a number of impressive showings last summer and held strong with his performance at Appling County (Baxley, Ga.) this spring.

Correa wasn't the only high schooler from Puerto Rico who heard his name called Monday, as the Twins used the first pick of the sandwich round on lanky right-hander Jose Orlando Berrios and the Los Angeles Dodgers used the 51st pick on Jesmuel Valentin-Diaz, a teammate of Correa's at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.

Many had Lance McCullers Jr. from Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.) pegged as a possible top-10 pick, but his slide into the second round was one of the biggest stories of the evening. McCullers, a 6-2, 205-pound right-handed pitcher, ended up being selected 41st overall by the same team that picked Correa -- the Astros. McCullers, the Gatorade National Player of the Year, may have slipped due to high signing bonus demands, and the $1.25 million assigned to the No. 41 pick surely won't be enough to sway him from his commitment to Florida. The Astros, who have $11.2 million to spend total among their first 11 draft picks, will have to do some creative budgeting if they want to sign both Correa and McCullers Jr.

High school teammates factored prominently into Day 1 of the draft. Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) pitching aces Max Fried and Lucas Giolito were both selected in the first round. Fried, a 6-3, 170-pound left-hander, heard his name called seventh overall by the San Diego Padres. Fried transferred to Harvard-Westlake for his senior year after his old school cut its athletics department, and after a dominant spring it's no surprise he went in the top 10 picks.

Giolito is a different story. Considered the No. 1 prep prospect entering the spring, the 6-6, 230-pound power righty was sidelined a few weeks into the season with a sprained ulnar-collateral ligament in his right elbow. He only recently began throwing again, and draft experts were split as to whether a team would take the risk and select him in Round 1. The answer to that question turned out to be yes, as the Washington Nationals picked him 16th overall. His pick is slotted at $2.1 million, but it may take more than that to sign him away from his commitment to UCLA, especially considering he was at one time projected to earn a signing bonus of at least twice that much.

Olympia (Orlando, Fla.) teammates Jesse Winker and Walker Weickel were both picked in the sandwich round, with Winker going 49th to the Cincinnati Reds and Weickel going 55th to the Padres. Winker, a sweet-swinging outfielder, had seen his stock surge of late. He hit close to .500 in his senior season with an OBP of .649. There was a time earlier this spring when it looked like Weickel was a sure bet to be picked higher than Winker, possibly even in the first half of the first round. But concerns about diminishing velocity pushed Weickel down draft boards.

In addition to Fried and Weickel, the Padres also grabbed prep right-hander Zach Eflin of Hagerty (Oviedo, Fla.) at No. 33. At 6-5 and 205 pounds, Eflin has a frame scouts love to go with a fastball that has been clocked in the mid-90s. A battle with triceps tendinitis earlier this spring may have hurt Eflin's stock slightly, but he could prove to be one of the steals of the draft. It may be a tough task for San Diego to sign all three of these high-upside selections, but inking even two of them would have to be considered a success.

A few other teams also went high school heavy Monday night. The Toronto Blue Jays used four of their five picks on preps, including first-rounder D.J. Davis from Stone County (Wiggins, Miss.) at No. 17. The Rangers grabbed a trio of prep prospects, with Lewis Brinson of Coral Springs (Fla.) leading the way at No. 29. The Chicago White Sox were doing flips over their draft, as they snagged Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas) outfielder/pitcher Courtney Hawkins 13th overall (he celebrated by doing a back flip live on TV). With their only other pick of the evening, they grabbed Keon Barnum of King (Tampa, Fla.) -- arguably the high schooler with the best raw power in the draft.

Stray observations

--Solon (Ohio) lefty Matt Smoral had injury issues his senior year — he missed most of the season with a stress fracture in his foot. When healthy, he was considered a potential top 10 talent. Toronto selected him with the No. 50 pick.

--Joey Gallo seems like a perfect fit for the Texas Rangers at No. 39 with his power. Gallo hit .509 with 21 homers and 80 RBIs in his final season at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas).

--Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.) star Matt Olson played his best ball toward the end of the season in leading the Panthers to their second straight state title. Perhaps that played a role in him landing with Oakland at No. 47.

--Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) third baseman Mitch Nay saw his numbers drop this season as he saw fewer good pitches to hit. But there’s no doubt the Blue Jays got a tremendous talent at No. 58 — Nay still impressed enough to earn Gatorade State Player of the Year honors this season.

MLB Draft Stock Watch: A final look

June, 1, 2012
6/01/12
10:15
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Carlos CorreaCal Sport Media via AP ImagesPuerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, Puerto Rico) shortstop Carlos Correa has seen his stock rise heading into Monday's MLB draft.
Each Friday since the beginning of May, Jason A. Churchill, who covers the MLB draft for ESPN Insider, has looked at the high school prospects whose stock is up and whose stock is down for the draft. Here's his final stock watch heading into the draft, which begins on June 4.

The 2012 MLB draft begins on Monday, so there’s little time, if any at all, for the top high school prospects to impress scouts.

But over the past week, a few elite players, including Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton, have managed to improve their already high draft stock with impressive workouts and performances.

Here’s a look at the players who’ve improved their stock and whose stock is down heading into Monday.

STOCK UP

Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, Puerto Rico)
Correa's stock can't get much higher, but he's been mighty impressive in workouts for a handful of clubs selecting in the Top 10, including the Houston Astros, who own the No. 1 overall pick. Correa's chances to stick at shortstop aren't great -- one crosschecker opined those chances at "maybe 10 percent at best" -- but his bat is expected to play at third base, thanks to plus raw power and good all-around hitting skills. It's not out of the question that Correa is the top pick.

Tanner Rahier, SS, Palm Desert (Calif.)
Rahier showed up on the Stock Down list earlier this spring, but more clubs are showing optimism on his chances to remain at shortstop, which boosts his overall value. He has some pop, but his ability to square up the fastball and make consistent contact -- along with that shot to stay at shortstop -- could mean a first-round bonus for Rahier. Third base would likely be the next move should he outgrow short, but there has also been mention of the outfield, where his athleticism would play well and his arm strength would remain an asset.

Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County (Baxley, Ga.)
Like Correa, the two-sport star has been impressive in workouts and there is some buzz that the evaluations of Buxton by the top three clubs -- Houston, Minnesota and Seattle -- have soared since. There now appears to be zero chance Buxton gets past Seattle and a decent chance he goes No. 1 overall to the Astros.

STOCK DOWN

Lewis Brinson, OF, Coral Springs (Fla.)
Brinson is projectable, athletic and signable, but fellow prep outfielders David Dahl and Anthony Alford appear to have passed him up on several draft boards this spring. A few college outfielders are getting some additional attention, which also hurts Brinson's stock. Of course, a club looking to save a little bonus pool money could tab Brinson in the top 40 and spend the savings on other picks.

Cody Poteet, RHP, Christian High School (El Cajon, Calif.)
Poteet, listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 pounds, may be falling victim to the projectable arms ranked in the sandwich round through round 3, including California prepsters Shane Watson and Kyle Twomey, as well as Paul Blackburn and Ryan Burr. Poteet is still a lock to go in the top three rounds, unless his commitment to UCLA grows as the selections in the top 50 continue without his name being called.

Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
Giolito started throwing and word is he's working out for clubs, but he's not expected to throw from a mound until well after the draft, which robs clubs the chance to see him in full action. Some teams drafting high don't appear willing to take the risk, but Giolito remains a signable talent with as much upside as any player in the entire class, college or high school, pitcher or hitter. It simply seems that he will not be a top-three pick, and perhaps not even in the 8-10 range.

HOLDING

Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.)
Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
Courtney Hawkins, OF, Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Addison Russell, SS, Pace (Fla.)
Lucas Sims, RHP, Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.)
Stryker Trahan, C, Acadiana (Lafayette, La.)

Jason A. Churchill covers scouting, player development and the MLB draft for ESPN Insider, as well as Prospect Insider, where he's the founder and executive editor. You can follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider and email him at churchill@prospectinsider.com.

Big pitch counts could lead to big problems

May, 31, 2012
5/31/12
9:42
AM ET
Emerson GibbsCourtesy of Jesuit High School of New OrleansJesuit (New Orleans) pitcher Emerson Gibbs threw 193 pitches in a game against Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, La.) in April. His opponent, Mitch Sewald, threw 154 pitches.
Dr. James Andrews couldn’t believe it when he heard the combined pitch count racked up by two Louisiana high school pitchers in a game last month.

The number? Try 347.

“Wow,” said Andrews, who is arguably the world’s most famous and best orthopedic surgeon. “I have a hard time believing two pitchers were allowed to do that. Are you sure that number is for only two pitchers?”

Yes, doc. Just check the box score.

Jesuit School (New Orleans) senior ace Emerson Gibbs threw a whopping 193 pitches in an 18-inning, 2-1 victory over Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, La.) senior star Mitch Sewald, who threw 154 pitches. Gibbs threw 15 innings, while Sewald tallied his high pitch count in 10 frames.

“It’s ludicrous and it’s not safe judgment,” Andrews said. “That is just way too many pitches. That shouldn’t happen anywhere in any league.”

Well, it did happen again.

Two weeks later, another young pitcher was piling up the pitch count in Massachusetts. Barnstable (Mass.) senior ace Willie Nastasi threw 155 pitches in a nine-inning, complete-game victory over Taunton (Mass.).

Nastasi, who struck out 16 in the game, said he doesn’t regret the high pitch count but does agree that 155 is a little too steep for his comfort.

“Looking back, yes it probably was too many pitches and I won’t do it again,” said Nastasi, who is signed to play for UConn next season. “But I also look back at that game and remember that I stayed strong throughout the whole game. I really felt great and had no fatigue.”

[+] EnlargeWille Nastasi
Eric Adler for ESPNBoston.comBarnstable (Mass.) pitcher Willie Nastasi racked up 155 pitches in one start this spring.
All three pitchers drew national attention because of their high pitch counts, and it once again raised the question of when enough is enough when it comes to pitch counts at the youth and high school levels.

Andrews has an answer.

“High school pitchers should not throw more than 90 pitches in a game and they should have to take at least five days rest before they pitch again anywhere,” he said. “No way should they throw more than 100. The elbow isn’t ready for that workload.

“I understand coaches are under a lot of pressure to win. But coaches need to know your No. 1 priority is the health and safety of your young pitchers and baseball players. Your job is to deliver them to the next level without injury.”

All three coaches of the above-mentioned pitchers have caught heat from national media and scouts for the way they handled the pitch count.

Jesuit coach Joey Latino said looking back he would have changed the way he used Gibbs.

“I can’t defend the number,” he said. “It’s something I am going to have to deal with for a while. It’s hard to explain to someone who wasn’t there.”

Gibbs, however, saw no reason why he should have been pulled from the game because of a pitch count.

“I was feeling good the whole game and my velocity stayed the same,” said Gibbs, a Tulane recruit. “I didn’t think it was a big deal.”

Andrews disagrees.

Based on numerous studies he has been involved in, Andrews said most shoulder and arm surgeries in youth, college and professional baseball are related to fatigue in the arm. And high pitch counts are a big factor in the fatigue.

“Pitching too much in one game, one week or one season is a very high risk factor,” he said. “The problem is the injuries don’t always show up when they pitch too many pitches at age 15. When you see a pitcher at age 22 start developing a problem, you go look at their history and most times you find out they threw too much as a teen.”

None of the parents involved with the three pitchers complained to the coach or school district, but Sewald’s father did raise an eyebrow when he watched his son continue to pitch.

“We were shocked he kept pitching,” Chris Sewald said. “[Mitch] knows he probably shouldn’t do it again. He was caught up in the moment. His coach did ask him and he kept saying he was fine. He wanted to stay in.”

All three pitchers felt no pain beyond the usual soreness. And they all continued to pitch this season.

“I felt fine the whole time before and after,” Nastasi said. “But I will say, if I was tired and if I felt like my arm was getting tired I think I am smart enough to know to take myself out. That just wasn’t the case that game.”

His coach, Joe DeMartino, agreed.

“He didn’t look like he was pressing, and in my mind he was looking really strong as the game went on,” he said. “I was confident in my decision. And I still am.”

DeMartino said he always kept Nastasi’s health a concern during the game and repeatedly asked his young pitcher if he was OK to continue.

“It’s a tough call,” he said. “Any coach who has been in my position knows the feeling. But I know what Willie is capable of and I know he works hard and has great mechanics. The key in all this is a coach should know what their pitcher can and cannot do. I can tell when a pitcher is getting tired. I would have had no problem pulling him if I felt he wasn’t good to go.”

Good mechanics or not, Andrews still thinks every high school league in the country should have pitch-count rules.

“Why do we have red lights and stop signs?” Andrews said. “Because we have to have them. Nobody likes them. I hate red lights. But they make you safe. Someone has to police these young kids to get them out of the operating room.”

McCullers Jr. has converted many skeptics

May, 25, 2012
5/25/12
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Until recently, the experts who project where baseball prospects will be drafted and how they’ll be used saw Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.) senior right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. as a future relief pitcher.

The idea made his father and his coach incredulous.

“I don’t understand how you classify someone as a reliever” before they get to the majors, said his dad, Lance Sr., himself a former MLB relief pitcher.

“I always thought he had starter potential,” added Jesuit coach Richie Warren, “and this year he’s proven he’s a starter and should be drafted as a starter.”

For his part, McCullers didn’t worry about the skeptics. He knew what people said or predicted was largely out of his control.

“I can look up all these mock drafts, but nothing I do is going to change what’s going to happen,” McCullers said.

Although, that’s not entirely true. What McCullers could control — what he did on the mound this spring — might very well change what happens during the first day of the MLB draft. McCullers went 13-0 with a 0.18 ERA, striking out 140 batters in 77.1 innings. He didn’t allow a single earned run during the regular season and led Jesuit (28-2) to the state semifinals.

In his last high school game, McCullers blanked eventual 6A champs American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) over six innings in the semis before being pulled — and watching his team fall, 3-0, in extra innings. Jesuit, which was ranked No. 1 in the country prior to the loss, will still likely finish in the top 10 nationally in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Dominant as it was, his performance this season didn’t come as a huge surprise. He is rated the No. 15 prospect in the ESPN 100 and was an All-American last summer. He also earned the prestigious Jackie Robinson Award, which is presented to the nation’s top rising senior prospect.

That being the case, how was it possible he was deemed a future short-innings guy? His dad has a theory: “Because I was a reliever, they didn’t give him any chance to be a starter,” said McCullers Sr.

But perhaps there’s another explanation: The scouts and talent evaluators — at ESPN and elsewhere — had every reason to project McCullers as a reliever, because until this year that’s what he was.

Prior to this spring, McCullers had never been a full-time starter for the Tigers. In his first two years on varsity, he worked mostly as a closer, posting a 0.39 ERA and helping Jesuit advance to the state title game as a sophomore. He did a little bit of everything last year but started just nine of the team’s 34 games, fanning 79 in 52 innings of work.

That he had never pitched long innings was by design. Jesuit has had strong pitching since McCullers made the team as a freshman (one of just two players to do so in the past 15 years, according to Warren), including Daniel Gibson, Jesuit’s ace in 2009 and 2010 and now a sophomore at the University of Florida. McCullers was also one of the team’s top position players — he hit .422 with seven home runs as a junior — and the thought was that he might be drafted as such.

It was evident early on that he had a first-round arm, however, and the scouts didn’t bring their radar guns to test his bat speed. McCullers was throwing in the 90s as a sophomore and was frequently in the upper-90s as a junior. The question became whether he could sustain that velocity over the course of a game or a season.

Some scouts decided the answer was no, that his mechanics lent themselves more to the bullpen. So heading into this season, it was up to McCullers to change their minds.

To prepare for his first season as a full-time starter, McCullers worked out six times a week during the offseason. Monday, Wednesday and Friday were pitching-related: mechanics and building arm strength. There was a lot of medicine ball work. Tuesday and Thursday were dedicated to the gym, in particular focusing on adding muscle to his legs.

With his long-time trainer, Orlando Chinea, and friend Jose Fernandez, the former Alonso (Tampa, Fla.) ace and a first-round pick by the Marlins last June, McCullers would also march into the woods and chop down trees, utilizing muscles unlikely to be touched in normal workout. He didn’t touch a baseball the entire offseason, though he did use a softball to strengthen his shoulder.

Warren never doubted McCullers would be effective. But with the added workload, there were questions of “how he was going to deal with in-game adversity and how he was going to be able to get through innings if he had guys on base,” the coach said.

And while flirting with 100 mph on the gun is great, McCullers needed to show he could maintain both speed and command in the later innings. A knock on McCullers was that he relied too much on his fastball — which as a closer may have been true — so his other pitches would be more important that ever.

McCullers left no doubts. He pitched well with men on base. He walked fewer batters than last year despite pitching 25 more innings. He threw six complete games. In one game, Warren said, McCullers was clocked throwing 98 in the first inning and 97 in the seventh. Because of that heat, his changeup and curve were devastating.

The kicker is that what may have hurt McCullers among prognosticators before the season began — his lack of starting experience — could now be viewed by prospective MLB teams as a plus: He simply doesn’t have a ton of wear and tear on that right arm.

“I know he’s a lot fresher than probably any kid in the country,” said McCullers Sr.

McCullers wouldn’t label the season a total success, since the Tigers came up short of their goal of winning a state championship. The face of the program and a three-year captain, McCullers wanted that title to cement his legacy. Falling short is going to sting for awhile.

But individually, McCullers was nothing short of phenomenal, and he likely put to rest the notion that he’s destined for the bullpen. Keith Law has McCullers going No. 11 overall in his latest mock draft.

He could go higher or drop some. He might wind up eschewing the pro route at this stage, instead heading to Gainesville to play for the Gators. The road to the majors is a long and uncertain one, but McCullers knows the direction he wants to be headed.

“I just want to be the best,” he said. “I want to be the best player to ever play this game. Is that reachable? Who knows. But as long as I’m able to go out there and strap on my cleats … that’s what keeps me motivated that’s what keeps me going.”

MLB Draft Stock Watch: Cole Irvin shines

May, 25, 2012
5/25/12
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Cole IrvinMike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP ImagesServite (Anaheim, Calif.) senior left-hander Cole Irvin has seen his stock go up heading into the June 4 MLB draft.
Each Friday from now until the end of May, Jason A. Churchill, who covers the MLB draft for ESPN Insider, will look at the high school prospects whose stock is up and whose stock is down heading into the draft, which begins on June 4.

With the 2012 MLB draft a little more than a week away, it’s coming down to the wire for top prospects to making one last impression on scouts in the hopes of raising their draft stock.

Two players from the Golden State -- left-hander Cole Irvin of Servite (Anaheim, Calif.) and Daniel Robertson of Upland (Calif.) -- have done just that. Irvin showcased a wide array of pitches during the spring, while Robertson hit .560 with six homers and 31 RBIs this season.

Check back next Friday for our final high school Stock Watch before the draft.

STOCK UP

Cole Irvin, LHP, Servite (Anaheim, Calif.)
Irvin, who stands 6-foot-4 and 170 pounds, battled all spring. He impressed scouts late in the season by showing consistent fastball command and a competitive approach to go with an improved set of secondary pitches, including the occasional changeup in a two-hitter tossed earlier this month. Irvin is committed to Oregon, but his arm speed and projectable frame could be enough for a late Day 1 or very early Day 2 selection.

Daniel Robertson, 3B, Upland (Calif.)
Robertson's season just ended, but the third baseman finished strong. He gathered six hits in his final seven at-bats and finished the year with a .560/.669/1.000 triple slash (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) that includes six home runs and a 29-6 BB/K ratio. He's strong, moves well laterally on defense and has a plus arm, suggesting he'll stick at the hot corner in pro ball. He's committed to UCLA but could go early enough to warrant signing a pro deal instead.

Kolby Copeland, OF, Parkway (Bossier City, La.)
Copeland's season was over last month, but his stock is rising as a result of his signability and the strong college commitments of others (see Stock Down). He's signed on with Baton Rouge Community College and could re-enter the draft next year if he feels he can improve his stock, but may go off the board as early as the second round this June. He's a bit raw at the plate, but he’s also a very good athlete who generates good bat speed.

Carson Fulmer, RHP, All Saints Academy (Winter Haven, Fla.)
Fulmer fits on both ends of the spectrum here. He's a Vanderbilt signee, and they tend to lose stock as the draft nears due to their strong commitment to playing college ball. Fulmer, however, has pitched his way into consideration for the sandwich round, and if he's among those that strikes a pre-draft deal, he could easily be a top 60 selection. He lacks projection at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, but is otherwise an advanced and polished prep arm.

Others Trending Up
Anthony Alford, OF, Petal (Miss.)
Walker Buehler, RHP, Henry Clay (Lexington, Ky.)
James Kaprielian, RHP, Beckman (Irvine, Calif.)
Kyle Twomey, LHP, El Dorado (Placerville, Calif.)

STOCK DOWN

Skye Bolt, OF, Holy Innocents’ (Atlanta)
Bolt's stock is sinking a bit due to signability concerns, as the speedy outfielder's commitment to North Carolina may be his ticket to the first round in three years. This could all change with a pre-draft agreement for a slot in the top few rounds, but the payoff appears too great for him to settle. Bolt, a switch hitter, profiles well in center field and has good present strength. His quick, smooth swing produces line drives and promises future power.

Daniel Starwalt, RHP, Granite Hills (El Cajon, Calif.)
Starwalt, not unlike fellow Stanford commit Freddy Avis, may be a tough sign unless he's a first-round pick, and Starwalt will not carry such a profile into draft day. There are clubs that have tossed a fourth-round grade on the right-hander, despite his low-90s velocity and 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame. Barring an overdraft or money-saving deal, Stalwart is probably headed for Day 2 and likely Palo Alto.

Austin Barr, C, Camas (Wash.)
Barr's stock hasn’t fallen because of his play -- most clubs are off him entirely because he's committed to Stanford, and the industry believes he'll pass on pro ball for now and re-enter the draft in 2015. Otherwise, Barr would have been a consideration in the top 100 picks, perhaps as high as the end of the sandwich round.

Others Trending Down
Tyler Gonzales, RHP, James Madison (San Antonio)
Trey Williams, 3B, Valencia (Calif.)

Jason A. Churchill covers scouting, player development and the MLB draft for ESPN Insider, as well as Prospect Insider, where he's the founder and executive editor. You can follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider and email him at churchill@prospectinsider.com.

The Starting Nine: May 24th Edition

May, 24, 2012
5/24/12
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Baseball NHSIAndrew Craft/ESPNHSMater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) senior right-hander Ty Moore has worked himself into The Starting Nine discussion.
ESPNHS continues its search for the nation’s top high school baseball player, regardless of school year and based solely on on-field performance. Every two weeks, we’ll rank the nine players in order in The Starting Nine. And at the end of the season, whoever is in the top spot will be crowned The Diamond Gem, our award given to the nation’s most outstanding player.

We’re coming down to the wire in The Starting Nine and several players are making their case for the top of the order. Byron Buxton continues to shine on both the mound and at the plate, while Lance McCullers Jr. completed one of the more dominant pitching campaigns in recent memory.

Meanwhile, Wyatt Mathisen has powered Calallen (Corpus Christi, Texas) to the No. 1 ranking in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Making the case to join the fray is Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) senior right-hander Ty Moore, who earlier this year helped lead the Monarchs to the USA Baseball H.S. Invitational crown.

The Starting Nine — May 24th Edition

Through games of May 21

1. Byron Buxton, Appling County (Baxley, Ga.)
OF/RHP, Senior
Previous spot:
No. 1
What he’s done: Buxton has strengthened his hold on the top spot and has led Appling County to the Class AA state finals in the process. He’s hitting .523 with a .639 on-base percentage, three homers and 31 RBIs and is 9-0 on the mound with a 1.78 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 67 innings. Appling County begins its state finals series against Pierce County (Blackshear, Ga.) on Saturday.

2. Lance McCullers Jr., Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
RHP/SS
Previous spot:
No. 2
What he’s done: McCullers’ squad fell to American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), in the Class 5A state semifinals. However, McCullers pitched strong in defeat, striking out nine in six innings without allowing a run. Overall, the potential first-round pick delivered a monster campaign, going 13-0 with a 0.18 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 77.1 innings. He allowed two earned runs on the year and opponents managed just a .106 average against him. McCullers also contributed two homers and 21 RBIs at the dish.

3. Wyatt Mathisen, Calallen (Corpus Christi, Texas)
C/SS/RHP, Senior
Previous Spot:
No. 3
What he’s done: Calallen sits at No. 1 in this week’s POWERADE FAB 50 thanks in large part to the work of Mathisen on the mound and at the plate. In a sweep of Ray (Corpus Christi, Texas) in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals, Mathisen went 2-for-3 with an RBI in the first game and then pitched a shutout with eight strikeouts to clinch the series. Overall, he’s hitting .447 with 16 doubles, three homers and 40 RBIs and is 11-0 on the bump with a 1.08 ERA, seven saves and 86 strikeouts in 65 innings.

4. Kyle Carter, Columbus (Ga.)
OF/LHP, Senior
Previous spot:
No. 4
What he’s done: Carter and his Columbus teammates will go for another state crown starting on Saturday against Ringgold (Ga.) in the Class AAA state finals series. Carter is hitting .326 with 14 homers and 31 RBIs and has been walked 25 times. He’s 11-2 on the mound with a 0.80 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 79 innings.

5. Gavin Cecchini, Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
SS, Senior
Previous Spot:
No. 5
What he’s done: Cecchini sparked Barbe to its sixth state title with a 3-2 win over Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, La.) in the Class 5A state championship. Cecchini batted with .467 with a .566 on-base percentage during the postseason and finished the season hitting .413 with a .527 OBP, seven homers, 32 RBIs and 31 stolen bases. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider Cecchini used a wood bat for most of the year.

6. Courtney Hawkins, Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas)
RHP/OF
Previous spot: No. 7

What he’s done: Hawkins is hitting .424 with a .569 on-base percentage, 10 homers, 37 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. He’s 3-2 on the mound with a 0.99 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 28.1 innings. Hawkins and FAB 50 No. 13 Carroll will take on FAB 50 No. 15 Sharyland (Mission, Texas) in the Class 5A regional semifinals on Saturday.

7. Ty Hensley, Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.)
RHP, Senior
Previous spot: No. 9
What he’s done: Hensley tossed a one-hitter and struck out 13 as Santa Fe defeated Stillwater (Okla.) 4-1 in the Class 6A state quarterfinals. Santa Fe fell to Broken Arrow (Okla.) in the state semis the next day. Hensley finished the year undefeated on the mound at 10-0 and struck out a school-record 111 batters in only 55.1 innings to go with a 1.51 ERA. He also hit .447 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs

8. Joey Gallo, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
3B/RHP, Senior
Previous spot:
On Deck
What he’s done: Gallo led Gorman to its seven consecutive state title while putting up astounding power numbers along the way. In 40 games, the potential first-round pick hit .509 with 21 homers and 80 RBIs. Gallo had four multi-homer outings, including a four-homer game against Clark (Las Vegas).

9. Ty Moore, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)
RHP, Senior
Previous Spot:
Not ranked
What he’s done: Moore has been outstanding for the FAB 50 No. 7 Monarchs. He’s 11-1 on the mound with a 0.81 ERA ad 65 strikeouts in 60.1 innings, fanning 14 in a 3-1 win over Rio Mesa (Oxnard, Calif.) in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs. He’s also hitting .415 with three homers and 23 RBIs.

Dropped Out

No. 6 Walker Weickel, Olympia (Orlando, Fla.)
RHP, Senior

Weickel had a strong year, going 12-1. But that one loss came in the Class 8A regional finals when then-FAB 50 No. 1 Olympia was upset by Spruce Creek (Port Orange, Fla.) 8-1.

No. 8 Max Fried, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
LHP, Senior

The nation’s top left-hander was 8-3 with a 2.41 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 69.2 innings, but he struggled in his last regular-season start, allowing six runs in 3.2 innings in a loss to Loyola (Los Angeles).

On Deck

Taylor Hawkins
C, Carl Albert (Midwest City, Okla.)
What he's done: Hawkins helped Carl Albert win its third state title in six years by hitting a solo shot in a 6-2 win over Claremore (Okla.) in the Class 5A state final. It was Hawkins' 28th homer of the season and 74th of his career. The Oklahoma recruit also hit .391 this season with 81 RBIs. Carl Albert is No. 19 in this week's FAB 50.

No limits for Georgia outfielder Skye Bolt

May, 23, 2012
5/23/12
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Skye Bolt Cliff Welch/Icon SMIHoly Innocents' (Atlanta) senior outfielder Skye Bolt hit .430 this year with 22 doubles, eight homers and 31 RBIs.
Holy Innocents’ (Atlanta) star center fielder Skye Bolt thinks his name is the biggest reason people remember him.

That is kind of true.

Who could forget a name like Skye Bolt?

“I love the name and appreciate it,” said Bolt, who got his name because his dad wanted him to have a name that ‘popped’. “I like to think it definitely helps me in a positive way.”

But if you met Bolt and watched him swing a baseball bat, it would be safe to say you would remember him for bigger reasons.

The sweet-swinging switch hitter is rated the nation’s No. 37 player in the ESPN 100 and he’s a top prospect for this year’s MLB draft. He’s also signed with North Carolina.

With a name like Skye Bolt, he was born to be a ballplayer.

-- Holy Innocents' (Atlanta) baseball coach Dylan Deal
Numerous scouts attended his games this season, in which he hit .430 with 22 doubles, eight homers and 31 RBIs and guided Holy Innocents’ to the second round of the Class A state playoffs.

Bolt has also played in multiple showcase events in his career, including last summer’s Perfect Game All-American Classic.

He said most scouts have told him he could be drafted as early as the second round. Once he is drafted, he will make a decision on whether he heads to college or begins his journey in professional baseball.

“I truly believe one day Skye will play 162 games a year in the pros,” said Holy Innocents’ coach Dylan Deal. “With a name like Skye Bolt, he was born to be a ballplayer on TV.”

But Bolt has had just as big an impact volunteering at the Goshen Valley Boys’ Ranch in Waleska, Ga., roughly 50 miles north of Atlanta. The ranch is a nonprofit that serves young men ages 9-20 in Georgia’s foster care system. The boys who live there come from homes where their parents neglected or abused them. The organization provides them a place to live until a family adopts them.

“Charity work is one of those things that takes me away from baseball and makes me realize that baseball is just a game,” said Bolt. “Sometimes getting too head over heels for baseball can make you forget about the important things, like friends and family.”

Bolt got involved with Goshen largely due to his parents’ influence in charity work and because Goshen’s residential life director, Zach Blend, is his former middle school and junior varsity baseball coach. Bolt’s stepmom, Connie, is also on the board of advisors.

“I cannot think of another young man who has devoted as much time and effort into trying to create a better environment for these kids at the ranch,” Blend said of Bolt. “He has a very busy schedule with baseball and he somehow always finds time for the kids.”

“I am more proud of him as a person than I am of him as an athlete,” said Bolt’s mother, Eva Murray. “A sports career can only take you so far. He won’t always be an athlete. He will always be a great person. He seems to touch people everywhere he goes.”

At the ranch, Bolt plays sports and eats dinner with the kids and visits as much as he can. He donates baseball equipment and teaches them about baseball and other sports.

During Christmas, he spearheaded a toy drive at local high schools to give gifts to the ranch, and during Easter he helped bring in baskets full of candy.

“I love to help because these kids absolutely inspire me,” Bolt said. “They greet you with a smile and they embrace every day like it’s a blessing. I appreciate them so much.”

Blend said the boys look up to Bolt, and not because of what he can do on the field.

“They realize he is very skilled in baseball, but they know him more for the type of guy he is,” Blend said. “They know him more for his kindness and friendship. The way he carries himself is such a positive influence and impact.”

Proof that people will remember Skye Bolt for a lot more than just his unique name.

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