High-SchoolBaseball: Skye Bolt

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.

No limits for Georgia outfielder Skye Bolt

May, 23, 2012
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Skye Bolt Cliff Welch/Icon SMIHoly Innocents' (Atlanta) senior outfielder Skye Bolt hit .430 this year with 22 doubles, eight homers and 31 RBIs.
Holy Innocents’ (Atlanta) star center fielder Skye Bolt thinks his name is the biggest reason people remember him.

That is kind of true.

Who could forget a name like Skye Bolt?

“I love the name and appreciate it,” said Bolt, who got his name because his dad wanted him to have a name that ‘popped’. “I like to think it definitely helps me in a positive way.”

But if you met Bolt and watched him swing a baseball bat, it would be safe to say you would remember him for bigger reasons.

The sweet-swinging switch hitter is rated the nation’s No. 37 player in the ESPN 100 and he’s a top prospect for this year’s MLB draft. He’s also signed with North Carolina.

With a name like Skye Bolt, he was born to be a ballplayer.

-- Holy Innocents' (Atlanta) baseball coach Dylan Deal
Numerous scouts attended his games this season, in which he hit .430 with 22 doubles, eight homers and 31 RBIs and guided Holy Innocents’ to the second round of the Class A state playoffs.

Bolt has also played in multiple showcase events in his career, including last summer’s Perfect Game All-American Classic.

He said most scouts have told him he could be drafted as early as the second round. Once he is drafted, he will make a decision on whether he heads to college or begins his journey in professional baseball.

“I truly believe one day Skye will play 162 games a year in the pros,” said Holy Innocents’ coach Dylan Deal. “With a name like Skye Bolt, he was born to be a ballplayer on TV.”

But Bolt has had just as big an impact volunteering at the Goshen Valley Boys’ Ranch in Waleska, Ga., roughly 50 miles north of Atlanta. The ranch is a nonprofit that serves young men ages 9-20 in Georgia’s foster care system. The boys who live there come from homes where their parents neglected or abused them. The organization provides them a place to live until a family adopts them.

“Charity work is one of those things that takes me away from baseball and makes me realize that baseball is just a game,” said Bolt. “Sometimes getting too head over heels for baseball can make you forget about the important things, like friends and family.”

Bolt got involved with Goshen largely due to his parents’ influence in charity work and because Goshen’s residential life director, Zach Blend, is his former middle school and junior varsity baseball coach. Bolt’s stepmom, Connie, is also on the board of advisors.

“I cannot think of another young man who has devoted as much time and effort into trying to create a better environment for these kids at the ranch,” Blend said of Bolt. “He has a very busy schedule with baseball and he somehow always finds time for the kids.”

“I am more proud of him as a person than I am of him as an athlete,” said Bolt’s mother, Eva Murray. “A sports career can only take you so far. He won’t always be an athlete. He will always be a great person. He seems to touch people everywhere he goes.”

At the ranch, Bolt plays sports and eats dinner with the kids and visits as much as he can. He donates baseball equipment and teaches them about baseball and other sports.

During Christmas, he spearheaded a toy drive at local high schools to give gifts to the ranch, and during Easter he helped bring in baskets full of candy.

“I love to help because these kids absolutely inspire me,” Bolt said. “They greet you with a smile and they embrace every day like it’s a blessing. I appreciate them so much.”

Blend said the boys look up to Bolt, and not because of what he can do on the field.

“They realize he is very skilled in baseball, but they know him more for the type of guy he is,” Blend said. “They know him more for his kindness and friendship. The way he carries himself is such a positive influence and impact.”

Proof that people will remember Skye Bolt for a lot more than just his unique name.

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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