High-SchoolBaseball: Josh Hart

Meadows paces Class of 2013 outfielders

April, 13, 2012
4/13/12
10:28
AM ET
William AbreuMike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP ImagesMater Academy (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.) junior William Abreu follows in the footsteps of senior teammate Albert Almora as one of the nation's top outfielders in his class.
Each week from now until the end of April, we’ll take a look at the elite Class of 2013 baseball prospects by ranking the Top 5 players at each position. This week, we continue with the Top 5 outfielders led by Austin Meadows of Grayson (Loganville, Ga.). Meadows helped lead the USA Baseball 16U National Team to the gold medal at the IBAF World Youth Championships last summer. Meadows drove in a whopping 28 runs in eight games during the tournament and batted .537.

1. Austin Meadows, Grayson High School (Loganville, Ga.)
Meadows, a left-handed batter and Clemson Tigers commit, brings all five tools to the ballpark, including plus power, plus speed and a strong arm. He's 6-foot-3 and nearly 200 pounds and profiles well in right field, but he does possess the instincts to stay in center if he doesn't simply outgrow the position. He's also a force on the mound, but his future is at the plate.

2. William Abreu, Mater Academy (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.)
The Miami commit is an above-average runner with a good feel for the game and his swing is sound. Abreu, a left-handed hitter who is teammates with elite Class of 2012 prospect Albert Almora, keeps the bat in the zone, producing a nice, easy line-drive swing. The power should show up as he matures; there's enough bat speed, but he entered his junior year lacking the ability to generate loft. He projects to be at least average defensively in a corner with plus arm strength.

3. Justin Williams, Terrebone (Houma, La.)
Williams' raw tools stand out at every turn, despite being just an average runner. He throws well and flashes big power. The LSU commit has performed well in summer showcases and keeps things simple at the plate. There's little to no stride, and he keeps his head still while swinging through the ball, both signs he'll make good contact. Williams has good bat speed.

4. Eric Williams, Sachse (Texas)
Williams, a Texas Tech commit, offers solid hitting tools, including an ability to use the entire field. There's projectable power in the swing thanks to above-average bat speed, and he's a solid athlete with a plus arm — he's been clocked in the 87-90 mph range from the mound. The right-handed hitter has strong hands, quick wrists and plus bat speed, but some scouts aren't fond of his toe tap he uses as a timing mechanism.

5. Anfernee Grier, Russell County (Seale, Ala.)
Grier is raw, but offers above-average or better tools across the board, including a plus arm and bat speed that should produce above-average power. His speed comes from long, quick strides and as a result profiles well in center field, reminding some of former Toronto Blue Jays stand out Devon White.

Others to Watch
Cody Bower, St. Pius X (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Nicholas Buckner, North Shore (Houston)
Josh Hart, Parkview High School (Lilburn, Ga.)
Keenan Innis, Blessed Trinity High School (Roswell, Ga.)
Austin Paschke, Liberty High School (Peoria, Ariz.)
Stephen Smith, Frenship (Wolfforth, Texas)
Stephen Wrenn, Walton High School (Marietta, Ga.)

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.
Max FriedCourtesy of Matt LaCour/Harvard-WestlakeSenior lefty Max Fried will lead Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) into this week's USA Baseball National High School Invitational
Four days, 16 teams, 32 games -- however you slice it there is going to be a lot of baseball played between Wednesday and Saturday during the USA Baseball National High School Invitational.

But the event isn’t just about quantity. There’s plenty of quality on hand. Six teams in the POWERADE FAB 50 made the trip to Cary, N.C., along with 10 players in the ESPN 100. The tournament kicks off with American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) facing Oxford (Ala.) Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET, and it culminates with the championship on Saturday at noon ET in a game that will be streamed live on MLB.com.

Here’s a look at the top storylines to follow as the event unfolds.

Life without No. 1

Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) had a dream rotation lined up for the spring with top right-hander (and No. 1 overall prospect) Lucas Giolito and top southpaw Max Fried both on the roster. But in his third start of the season on March 6, Giolito left the game with what was later diagnosed as a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. UCL injuries lead to Tommy John surgery, so Giolito did the wise thing and shut it down. He remains extremely unlikely to pitch again this season.

Fortunately for the Wolverines, fate dealt them a second ace for the 2012 season. Fried transferred to Harvard-Westlake after his old school, Montclair Prep (Van Nuys, Calif.), announced it was cutting all extracurricular activities just a couple months before the school year began. Rated the nation’s No. 4 overall prospect, Fried struggled a bit early in the season but has been nails since Giolito went down. In his most recent start last Friday, Fried fanned 14 over five innings in a 9-3 win against Lancaster (Calif.).

Stepping into the No. 2 spot in the rotation is sophomore RHP Jack Flaherty. In the second game of the doubleheader against Lancaster last Friday, Flaherty earned the win on the mound and also smacked a home run. So yeah, don’t count Harvard-Westlake out quite yet.

Titletown

The players on this year’s Columbus (Ga.) baseball team know a little something about winning. In addition to claiming the past two Class AAA state crowns, the Blue Devils boast four players who were on Columbus’ Little League World Series championship team in 2006. Kyle Carter, J.T. Phillips, Josh Lester and Ryan Lang keyed the Little League run, and they haven’t slowed down since.

Carter and Phillips have both pledged to Georgia, but they’d undoubtedly love to add a new piece of hardware to their already loaded trophy cases before they take the next step in their careers. It’s no long shot, either, as Columbus currently sits at No. 3 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Thawing Out

Of the 16 teams in the tournament, 14 hail from traditional baseball hotbeds. Florida, California and Georgia are each represented by three squads, Alabama will send two, and Texas, Nevada and North Carolina send a team apiece. The remaining two teams don’t quite fit the warm-weather bill, however.

George Washington hails from a few blocks north of Yankee Stadium in New York City, while Highlands Ranch is located in the Denver suburbs. But just because the players on these two teams are handy with a snow shovel doesn’t mean they aren’t adept with a bat and glove as well.

George Washington features a pair of elite talents in outfielder Fernelys Sanchez and catcher Nelson Rodriguez. Sanchez fractured his fibula in a game Saturday and will miss the event, but the power bat of Rodriguez and a deep pitching staff should allow the Trojans to contend for the tournament title.

Highlands Ranch is led by right-hander Ryan Burr. The No. 72 recruit in the ESPN 100, Burr fanned a staggering 95 batters in 53 innings last spring. The Arizona State pledge will get plenty of help in North Carolina from returning All-State picks RHP/SS Tony Audino and C Adam Gauthier.

Young Money

With elite senior prospects on display like No. 4 Fried, No. 5 Joey Gallo of Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), No. 12 Lucas Sims of Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.) and No. 26 Courtney Hawkins of Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas), the Class of 2012 is very well represented. But don’t sleep on the talent from the Class of 2013.

Leading the way for the juniors is a pair of catchers: Zach Collins from American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) and Jeremy Martinez from Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.). Collins is hitting a team-best .500 so far this season through 16 games, while Martinez is coming off a sophomore campaign in which he batted .388 and drove in 32 runs.

Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.) outfielder Josh Hart and Columbus (Ga.) righty Hunter Swilling are another couple juniors to watch. Meanwhile, Sarasota (Fla.) junior outfielder Jason Sierra has already pledged to Vanderbilt.

Sleeper?

Not a single player from Oxford (Ala.) has been mentioned thus far, but the Yellow Jackets have the kind of pitching depth needed to make some noise at an event like this in which teams have to play four games in four days.

A pair of SEC-bound senior right-handers lead the staff in Tucker Simpson (Florida) and Jackson Stephens (Alabama). Each is also dangerous at the plate, but it’s senior outfielder Matthew Goodson who’s the most lethal with the lumber. The Alabama pledge blasted 22 long balls last spring.

Senior hurlers Zach Lovvorn and Frazier Taylor each won seven games last season and provide serious depth at the back end of the rotation. And then there’s Trent Simpson, a budding superstar for Oxford in the junior class.

Add it up, and that just might be the winning formula.

Preseason FAB 50: Closer look at top 10

February, 13, 2012
2/13/12
11:33
AM ET
Courtney HawkinsCorpus Christi Caller-Times/Photographer George TuleyCarroll (Corpus Christi) senior outfielder/right-handed pitcher Courtney Hawkins leads the way for the Tigers, who advanced to last year's state semifinals.

Coming up with a preseason baseball top 10 for the Powerade FAB 50 ESPNHS Team Rankings was no easy task.

How high should we rank Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.), which has the nation’s top right-hander (Lucas Giolito) and left-hander (Max Fried) on its roster?

And what about Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.), led by senior flamethrower and likely first-round pick Lance McCullers Jr.?

Ultimately, the top spot came down to a pair of traditional national powers in Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) and Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), two schools that once again field impressive collections of players that will make them very tough to beat in their respective leagues.

Read More »

SPONSORED HEADLINES