High-SchoolBaseball: Avery Romero

Shortstop Correa tops middle infielders list

March, 2, 2012
3/02/12
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Carlos CorreaCal Sport Media via AP ImagesPuerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, Puerto Rico) shortstop Carlos Correa is projected to be a top-10 pick in June's MLB draft.
Each week since early February, we’ve been taking a look at the elite Class of 2012 high school baseball prospects by ranking the Top 10 players at each position. This week, we unveil our final set of rankings with the Top 10 middle infielders, which is led by Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, Puerto Rico) shortstop Carlos Correa. The Miami commit is projected to be a top-10 pick in June’s MLB draft.

Note: The rankings below are partially based on each player's chance of remaining at a middle infield position well into professional baseball.

1. Carlos Correa, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, Puerto Rico)
Correa's physical tools suggest he has a bright future at the plate and is top-10-pick material in June's draft. If the 6-foot-4, 190-pounder can stick at shortstop he could be a star, but he possesses the raw power to take his game to third base, if necessary. He has the hands, arm strength, foot speed and agility to play the position, but he could outgrow it in the long term. Correa is committed to Miami.

2. Gavin Cecchini, Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
Cecchini is a gamer with plus makeup and good athleticism and has a chance to stick at shortstop as a result. His arm is good enough and he's accurate, and there's some pop in the bat thanks to sound mechanics and a solid hit tool. Cecchini is committed to Ole Miss.

3. Addison Russell, Pace (Fla.)
Russell looks more like a third baseman than a shortstop, and his power follows suit. But he moves his feet well and has terrific hands, so there's a chance for him to stick at short in pro ball as long as he remains in top condition. Auburn will miss out on a premium recruit if Russell signs a pro deal this summer.

4. C.J. Hinojosa, Klein Collins (Spring, Texas)
Hinojosa has the arm and hands to play shortstop, and would likely do so if he heads to Austin to play for the Longhorns -- something he nearly did as an early enrollee -- but his thicker build may push him to second base or the hot corner down the line. He squares up fastballs regularly and is considered a tough sign due to his college commitment.

5. Jesmuel Valentine-Diaz, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, Puerto Rico)
Valentine-Diaz is a switch-hitter with a traditional split; he's stronger from his natural right side in terms of consistency and contact, but there's a little more pop from the left side. He doesn't stride, which can be good and bad. He's quick in the field and on the bases and could earn his way into consideration as a second- or third-round pick. He'll be LSU's starting shortstop in 2013 if he passes on the pro game for now, and he could use that time in school to get stronger.

6. Brandon Lopez, American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.)
Lopez is a bit raw in some areas, but once he defines his future -- he's also a right-handed pitcher who has touched the low-90s -- his game may round into shape. He has good hands and a quick bat at the plate and despite a stiff front arm his swing finishes quick and with good plane producing line drives and hefty fly balls. He tends to over-stride a bit, but that's generally an easy fix.

7. Tanner Rahier, Palm Desert (Calif.)
Rahier brings athleticism, strength and good defensive mechanics to the table, but most scouts bet on him ending up at third base as he matures physically -- he's already over 200 pounds and stands 6-foot-2. He has a plus arm and above-average power potential that he could take to the University of San Diego next fall. If Rahier was a better bet to stick at shortstop, he'd rank higher here because he has a better bat than the three prospects ranked ahead of him.

8. Avery Romero, Pedro Menendez (St. Augustine, Fla.)
Like many prep shortstops, Romero may have to move to second or third base, but the tools are there for his bat to play anywhere. He has a strong arm and average speed, but his hands are soft and his release is quick, though he drops his arm angle a little more than scouts prefer.

9. Richie Martin, Bloomingdale (Valrico, Fla.)
Martin, a Florida signee, gets the most out of his 5-foot-10, 170-pound frame, but could stand to get stronger. He's good with the glove and his release is quick, but a move to second base due to long-term arm strength may be necessary.

10. Tim Lopes, Edison (Huntington Beach, Calif.)
Lopes possesses good instincts on defense and his approach to the game suggests he's a high-makeup talent whose tools will play up as a result. He's not likely long for shortstop but handles the bat well and makes consistent contact.

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.

McCullers Jr. is top Florida diamond star

December, 29, 2011
12/29/11
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Avery RomeroScott Kurtz/ESPNHSPedro Menendez (St. Augustine, Fla.) senior infielder and Florida recruit Avery Romero hit .458 and stole 13 bases as a junior.

Last June, the state of Florida's prep stars populated 10 of the first 90 selections in the draft, including three of the top 14 and two in the top 10. The Sunshine State is always a hotbed for baseball prospects, and the class of 2012 is likely to produce another strong set of talents littering the early rounds.

Here's a look at the Top 10 Florida high school prospects from the Class of 2012.

1. Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)

The son of former MLB pitcher Lance McCullers Sr., McCullers has potential as a power bat, but his fastball has sniffed triple digits and he’s flashed an above-average breaking ball. Scouts are split on his future as the spring nears, but he’s a surefire first-round arm — and could break into the top 10 — for clubs that view him as a long-term starter. The Florida commit struck out 79 in 52 innings last year while hitting .422 with seven homers and 24 RBIs.

2. Walker Weickel, RHP, Olympia (Orlando, Fla.)

At 6-foot-6, Weickel is a projectable arm who has shown a consistent low-90s fastball with good downhill plane. He's displayed depth with a slow curveball and a change that lacks sink but brings deception due to his arm speed. Weickel, a Miami commit, has first-round abilities and shouldn't stay on the board long come June.

3. Keon Barnum, 1B, King (Tampa, Fla.)

Barnum has plus raw power and a major-league frame at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds. He's a decent athlete but profiles best at first base, which will limit his value come draft day. But a better year hitting to all fields and making contact could put him into the top 30. Barnum, a Miami recruit, batted .491 last year with six homers and 27 RBIs.

4. Jesse Winker, OF, Olympia (Orlando, Fla.)

Winker's strengths include above-average arm strength and good bat speed. Walker Weickel’s high school teammate runs well and shows good instincts in center field. But if his projected power develops, he could move to a corner, where he may be a plus defender long term. The left-handed hitting Winker, if he doesn't sign a pro deal next summer, is headed to Gainesville to play for the Gators.

5. Lewis Brinson, OF, Coral Springs (Fla.)

Brinson brings mixed reviews at this stage of the evaluation process, displaying plus athleticism and five-tool potential. At 6-foot-4, he may ultimately outgrow center field, but his arm should fit in right, provided his raw power plays in pro ball, too. Brinson has been timed in the 60 at 6.5 seconds, which is among the fastest in the entire draft class.

6. Albert Almora, OF, Mater Academy (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.)

Almora brings plenty of upside to the table, including plus speed and a plus throwing arm. He’s committed to Miami, but his strong, quick wrists and a consistent swing may be too much to pass up on draft day. He runs good routes in the outfield and may be able to handle center in the big leagues. Almora was named tournament MVP after leading the USA Baseball 18U National Team to a gold medal this fall in the COPABE 18U/AAA Pan American Championships.

7. Avery Romero, 2B/SS, Pedro Menendez (St. Augustine, Fla.)

Generally speaking, scouts believe Romero has to move off shortstop as a pro, likely sliding to third base where his plus arm and sound fundamentals should play well. His hit tool is his calling card at present and more power should develop as he improves his plate skills. Romero, a potential top 50 selection, is also committed to the University of Florida. He hit .458 last year with five homers, 18 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.

8. Addison Russell, SS, Pace (Fla.)

Like Romero, Russell appears to be a candidate to move to third base at the next levels, and there's enough arm strength and athleticism to warrant a shot in the outfield if necessary. He possesses well above-average bat speed that may turn into enticing power come draft day. Russell, who signed on to play at Auburn, starred with Almora on the USA Baseball National Team that won the Pan Am title.

9. Adrian Marin, SS, Gulliver Prep (Pinecrest, Fla.)

Marin is a plus runner with some quick-twitch actions that suggest he's got more pop in his bat than his 170-pound frame would otherwise suggest. He’s drawn comparisons to former first-round pick and Florida product Nick Franklin along the way. Marin has a good shot to stick at shortstop and if a club believes he will mature physically and hit enough, he could be a top 50 pick. If he doesn’t like his draft position, he's got a full ride to Miami waiting for him.

10. Hayden Hurst, RHP, Bolles (Jacksonville, Fla.)

Hurst had plenty of competition for the No. 10 spot, mainly from All Saints’ (Winter Haven, Fla.) right-hander Carson Fulmer. Hurst wins out due to the vast concerns that Fulmer's delivery will relegate him to relief work down the line. Hurst has touched 94 mph in the past and is projectable at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds. There's life and sink to the heater and he also offers a developing curveball. Hurst is committed to Florida State, but he has a chance to go early enough on Day 2 to warrant signing a pro contract.

On the Brink

David Thompson, 3B, Westminster Christian (Palmetto Bay, Fla.)
Tomas Nido, C, Orangewood Christian (Maitland, Fla.)
Nick Basto, SS, Archbishop McCarthy (Southwest Ranches, Fla.)
Brandon Lopez, 2B, Miramar (Fla.)
Zach Eflin, RHP, Hagerty (Oviedo, Fla.)
Carson Fulmer, RHP, All Saints’ Academy (Winter Haven, Fla.)
Alfredo Escalara, 3B, IMG Baseball Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
Marcus Brakeman, RHP, Shorecrest Prep (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
Max Foody, LHP, IMG Baseball Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)

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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