High-SchoolBaseball: Anthony Alford

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.

MLB Draft Stock Watch: Cole Irvin shines

May, 25, 2012
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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.

Buxton headlines star-studded OF list

February, 24, 2012
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Byron BuxtonMike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP ImagesAppling County (Baxley, Ga.) senior Byron Buxton is the nation's top outfielder and a potential top-five pick in June's draft.

Each week from now until early March, we’ll take a look at the elite Class of 2012 high school baseball prospects by ranking our Top 10 players by position. This week, we unveil our list of the Top 10 outfielders led by Appling County (Baxley, Ga.) standout Byron Buxton.

Last season, Buxton established himself as one of the nation’s top overall prospects by hitting .594 with 10 homers and 48 RBIs. And this week, he was named by Keith Law as the No. 1 prospect for this year's MLB draft.

1. Byron Buxton, Appling County (Baxley, Ga.)
Buxton is a two-sport star with plus speed and a steady setup and swing at the plate. He has the athleticism to play center field but scouts tend to believe he'll settle in right in a similar manner as Arizona Diamondbacks star Justin Upton. Buxton hits the low-90s off the mound, but his future is as an everyday talent, and he may hit for plus power down the road. He could be a top-five pick, but if he prefers college, the University of Georgia will welcome him with open arms.

2. David Dahl, Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.)
Dahl is a multi-talented athlete, but his best asset may be his eye for the strike zone. He can throw and run, projects to hit for average and power and should get on base with regularity. He's likely to end up in right field but could play some center early in his career. Dahl is an Auburn commit, but is a good bet for the first round and is a possible top-10 pick.

3. Albert Almora, Mater Academy (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.)
Almora , a Miami commit, may be the best prep center fielder in the class and projects to hit for average with a chance to add 10 to 15 home runs. He's a 55 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale and has tremendous instincts in the field and on the bases. Almora performs well in showcases and big games, which could get him selected in the top 20.

4. Courtney Hawkins, Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Hawkins, also a right-handed pitcher, is an enticing talent with plus power that he put on display at the Area Code Games, where he was one of just two players to leave the yard. Blair Field is rather cavernous, making the feat that much more impressive. He improved from the end of the spring into the showcase circuit, but scouts do show concern about his defensive instincts and how he handles soft stuff at the plate. Hawkins should hear his name called on Day 2, if not late on Day 1.

5. Lewis Brinson, Coral Springs (Fla.)
Brinson is quite the athlete, grading out above average across the board, including a 55 run grade and throwing arm. He has legit power that plays now, but he's raw in terms of plate discipline and pitch recognition. Florida could get a terrific corner outfielder with a bright future if Brinson passes on pro ball for the college game. Such a decision could put him in the first round conversation in 2015.

6. Billy “Nick” Williams, Ball (Galveston, Texas)
Williams could fit anywhere on this list and the argument for such a ranking would be legitimate and justified. He lacks polish and has big problems with offspeed stuff, which means his draft stock is based largely on his physical tools. He's a 70 runner with good raw power, but his mechanics at the plate need work and his defensive instincts are below average. If he maximizes his potential, he's a future star. Williams may benefit greatly from three years at the University of Texas.

7. Skye Bolt, Holy Innocents’ Episcopal (Atlanta)
Bolt has a chance to move up this list with some fundamental changes this spring. He's projectable at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, is a 60 runner and thrower and can handle center field. The switch hitter's swing (he’s better from the right side) mechanics are poor — he was mostly upper body in 2011 — but that’s not irreparable and big power could come as a result. If he spurns North Carolina and signs, he might be a sleeper to keep an eye on.

8. Jesse Winker, Olympia (Orlando, Fla.)
Winker is known for his sound swing and big power, but he may have to convert to first base down the line, erasing some of his value. He doesn’t run or throw all that well, but is a good worker who sets an example for teammates on and off the field. Winker is committed to Florida.

9. Rhett Wiseman, Buckingham Browne & Nichols (Cambridge, Mass.)
Wiseman brings a little of everything to the ballpark, including good feet, wrist strength and good bat speed. His swing is a mess, however, which keeps his stock down. He's a decent defender but lacks polish and does not make plays instinctually, but he's always played multiple sports, somewhat explaining the lack of natural baseball skills. He's a Vanderbilt commit, so he's not going to be easy to sign, and frankly he could use the time to develop anyway.

10. Anthony Alford, Petal (Miss.)
Alford may take his game to the gridiron — he's committed to Southern Mississippi to play quarterback as well as baseball — but he's a physical specimen at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds to go with above-average speed. He may have to play left in pro ball, and is still unrefined at the plate, but there's plenty to like athletically.

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.

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