High-SchoolBaseball: D.J. Davis

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: Brown earns praise

May, 18, 2012
5/18/12
10:37
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Ty HensleyScott Kurtz/ESPNHSSanta Fe (Edmond, Okla.) senior right-hander Ty Hensley has turned himself into a potential top 20 pick in this year's 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.

A number of top prep prospects are finishing up their seasons. So at this point, their stock is only changing due either to growing signability concerns or the improved stock of those still playing. It’s fluid, but it can only take one team’s assessment of a player to change his draft stock.

Here’s an overall look at which prospects have helped and hurt their draft prospects since last week.

STOCK UP

Mitch Brown, RHP, Century (Rochester, Minn.)
Brown's stock is up significantly from a year ago thanks to improved velocity, command and a more consistent delivery that promotes better arm action and deception. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound San Diego commit has been up to 95 mph, and his high-80s cutter is an added weapon. He began the season as a likely Day 2 pick -- perhaps somewhere between rounds four and six -- but has pitched his way into the sandwich-round conversation and may not get past the hometown Twins at No. 42.

Alec Rash, RHP, ADM (Adel, Iowa)
Rash flashed low-to-mid 90s heat in bullpen sessions for scouts as he prepared to start his season (Iowa high school baseball starts in May) and is rising up the charts as a result. Scouts saw 90-92 last summer, but he has added velocity between seasons. He's committed to the University of Missouri, but he could land as high as the compensation round. He gets good plane on his heater and his breaking ball has flashed as an above-average pitch. It would be a surprise if he lasted beyond the second round.

Ty Hensley, RHP, Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.)
Hensley has the physical tools of a first-round power arm, and that's exactly where ESPN Insider's Keith Law has him going in his latest mock draft. Hensley could potentially go as high as No. 9 to the Miami Marlins, a club that loves to take high school power arms and ride out the upside. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Hensley is committed to Ole Miss, but there's a good chance he doesn’t step foot on campus.

D.J. Davis, Stone County (Wiggins, Miss.)
Davis' signability helps his case -- he's not signed to a Division I school and will attend Meridian Community College and re-enter the draft next June should he not sign this summer. But his 80-grade speed, plus defense in center and improved showing at the plate not only has sent his stock soaring but it may get Davis into the first round. He's a left-handed stick who has displayed selectivity and added pop in 2012 and appears destined to be off the board in the top 30 picks.

Others Trending Up
Giovanni Brusa, OF, St. Mary’s (Stockton, Calf.)
Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)

STOCK DOWN

Zach Eflin, RHP, Hagerty (Oviedo, Fla.)
Eflin may see his stock drop slightly due to a late injury. Eflin missed about a month with a strained triceps and returned last week to mixed reviews. There's a chance the 6-foot-5, 200-pound right-hander, with his 91-95 mph fastball and polished feel for pitching, could again rise into the top 15 if the triceps issue proves to be a one-time problem.

Hunter Virant, LHP, Camarillo (Calif.)
Virant could be the victim of so many other prospects gaining steam, including a number of prep and college arms. He's not the most projectable of arms, but he could add strength to his 6-foot-2, 175-pound frame that could help him add velocity and improve his ceiling from No. 3 starter to potential No. 2 or better. Former first-round pick Tyler Skaggs, now a top prospect in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, brought a similar profile to the 2009 draft.

Matt Olson, 1B, Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.)
Olson has big-time raw power and performed well this spring, but is limited to first base and there are other bat-first or bat-only prospects at the prep level that carry higher grades, including Mitch Nay of Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) and Joey Gallo of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas). Olson has a simple swing, but he doesn't incorporate his lower half much and employs a near dead-hand start, which could limit his power against good pitching.

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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