High-SchoolBaseball: Nicholas Buckner
April, 13, 2012
By Jason A. Churchill | ESPN.com
Mike 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.