High-SchoolBaseball: Stryker Trahan

MLB Draft Stock Watch: Carson Kelly rises

May, 4, 2012
Carson kelly Westview, BBDustin Snipes/ESPNHSWestview (Portland, Ore.) infielder Carson Kelly has worked his way into the first-round mix.
Each Friday in 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.

The 2012 MLB draft is less than five weeks away and several of the top prep talents are jockeying for position on the event’s first day (June 4), which consists of 60 selections.

As the spring progressed, a number of prospects made big jumps, others held serve and a few saw their stock sink. There is still time for things to change again, but here is how I see it right now in terms of talent.


Albert Almora, CF, Mater Academy (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.)
Almora, an above-average defender in center field, has impressed scouts this spring with a consistent swing, plus speed and good overall plate skills that suggest he will hit for average and work counts as a professional.

Carson Kelly, 3B, Westview (Portland, Ore.)
Kelly's stock has risen 15 to 30 spots this spring, depending upon who is asked, and he now appears to be a firm first-round pick with a solid chance to be taken off the board in the top 20. He fields his position well and the ball jumps off his bat thanks to sound swing mechanics and strong, quick wrists.

Nick Travieso, RHP, Archbishop McCarthy (Lakewood Ranches, Fla.)
Travieso's most recent handful of starts have done wonders for his stock as the right-hander has seen a consistent uptick in velocity up to 99 mph, sitting 93-95. He's still a bit raw in some areas, but the arm strength may be enough for a first-round grade, albeit in the bottom quarter.

Corey Seager, 3B, Northwest Cabbarus (Concord, N.C.)
Seager, whom ESPN Insider's Keith Law wrote last week could go in the top 20, has impressed senior scouts and scouting directors with his ability to drive the ball to center and left field -- he's a left-handed hitter -- and he's doing it with pop. He's playing shortstop now but profiles as a future third baseman.

Mitch Gueller, RHP, W.F. West (Chehalis, Wash.)
Gueller has been up to the mid-90s in recent weeks and is beginning to draw some big-time attention that could mean a Day 1 selection. He's well built at 6-foot-3 or 4 and 200-plus pounds and offers a low-to-mid 70s curveball and low-80s changeup.


Tanner Rahier, SS, Palm Desert (Calif.)
Many talent evaluators who saw Rahier last summer at the Area Code Baseball Games wrote him off as a shortstop and spoke of third base as a future position. Some of those same scouts now have questions about Rahier remaining on the infield at all. He does possess the arm and feet to stick at third and perhaps just needs more experience, but his bat may not play there, either. Rahier, however, has made believers out of at least two clubs, with the Atlanta Braves being linked to him in recent weeks. Whether that's for round 1 or later in the draft remains to be seen.

Stryker Trahan, C, Acadiana (Lafayette, La.)
Trahan is hitting but questions remain about his defense, despite plenty of arm strength and great speed and overall athleticism for the catcher position. He began the spring as a potential top 20 pick, but the buzz surrounding the prep arms and infielders in that range could push Trahan to the compensation round.

Joey Gallo, 3B, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
Gallo's recent performance -- nine homers in his first 13 games after the USA Baseball National High School Invitational -- doesn't overshadow the struggles he endured at the tournament. He's pitched well, however, so his overall prospect status may remain. But as a bat, senior scouts are not convinced he's a top 30 player. Gallo, however, did go 5-for-5 with four home runs in a game two weeks ago and was intentionally walked in his final plate appearance -- with the bases loaded.

Freddy Avis, RHP, Menlo School (Atherton, Calif.) & Nathan Kirby, LHP, James River (Midlothian, Va.)
Both players are considered tough signs due to their strong commitments to school. Avis has signed on to pitch at Stanford, but he's making it awfully tough on himself as he could be first-round worthy. He's sat 91-94 mph of late and flashes a plus curveball. The fastball has life and he commands his pitches well.

Kirby, committed to the University of Virginia, has paired a sharper breaking ball in recent outings with a fastball in the 89-92 mph range. Kirby is considered a late Day 1 talent, but many believe he'll see the campus in Charlottesville, Va., and re-enter the draft in 2015.


Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County (Baxley, Ga.)
Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
Zach Eflin, RHP, Hagerty High School (Oviedo, Fla.)
Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe High School (Lake Charles, La.)
Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, Puerto Rico)


Alex Bregman, C/SS, Albuquerque Academy (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
C.J. Hinojosa, SS, Klein (Spring, Texas)
Rio Ruiz, 3B, Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.)
Matt Smoral, LHP, Solon (Ohio)

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.

MLB Draft Stock Watch: High School Look

March, 16, 2012
Mitch NayMike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP ImagesHamilton (Chandler, Ariz.) senior third baseman Mitch Nay has seen his MLB draft stock rise thanks to a strong start to the 2012 season.
Jason A. Churchill, who covers the MLB draft for ESPN Insider, looks at the high school senior baseball prospects who’ve either helped or hurt their draft stock early in the 2012 season.

The Class of 2012 high school baseball class is one of great promise. While it might lack polish at the top, it offers a lot of projectable, star-level athletes with high ceilings. This class, however, won’t sort itself out until late April and May. From our rough sketch of the top 20 high school prospects that was compiled during the preseason (see below), we’ll look at who’s improving his stock and who’s fading in the early going.

Preseason Top 20

1. Lucas Giolito, RHP, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
2. Byron Buxton, OF, Appling County (Baxley, Ga.)
3. Carlos Correa, SS, Puerto Rico Academy (Gurabo, Puerto Rico)
4. Walker Weickel, RHP, Olympia (Orlando, Fla.)
5. Max Fried, LHP, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
6. Matt Smoral, LHP, Solon (Ohio)
7. Stryker Trahan, C, Acadiana (Lafayette, La.)
8. Joey Gallo, 1B, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
9. Gavin Cecchini, SS, Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
10. David Dahl, OF, Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.)
11. Lucas Sims, RHP, Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.)
12. Hunter Virant, LHP, Camarillo (Calif.)
13. Rio Ruiz, 3B, Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.)
14. Zach Eflin, RHP, Hagerty (Oviedo, Fla.)
15. Clint Coulter, C, Union (Camas, Wash.)
16. Courtney Hawkins, OF, Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas)
17. Addison Russell, SS, Pace (Fla.)
18. Carson Kelly, 3B, Westview (Portland, Ore.)
19. Tanner Rahier, SS, Palm Desert (Calif.)
20. Corey Seager, 3B, Northwest Cabarrus (Concord, N.C.)


Mitch Nay, 3B/OF, Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.)
Nay, Arizona's top prep prospect, has a shot to shoot up the charts with more performances like this week's outing, when he went deep to right-center -- the opposite field for Nay, who’s a right-handed batter -- for a three-run homer.

Ty Buttrey, RHP, Providence (Charlotte, N.C.)
Buttrey touched 95 mph on the radar gun last week and sat firmly in the low-90s. He fanned 12 in 5.2 innings in one start and offers projection at 6-foot-6 and just over 200 pounds. He’s committed to Arkansas, but he could move up into first-day draft consideration.

In his latest start, Eflin, a 6-foot-5, 200-pound Central Florida commit, tossed six hitless frames and struck out 12. He has 29 strikeouts in 15 innings on the season, using a 90-94 mph fastball and a potentially plus curveball. He has yet to allow an earned run.

Weickel, already a potential top-10 pick and a Miami commit, whiffed 10 in his start last week and has scouts drooling over what might be in a few years. "Sometimes I get lost and imagine him four years down the line," an area scout said. "He could be an absolute horse. The sky's the limit."


Keon Barnum, 1B, King (Tampa, Fla.)
Barnum is hitting for average and power early on but is not showing a consistent ability to recognize and adjust to the breaking ball. Since he's already 19, Barnum has less developmental time ahead of him than most prep draft prospects and is limited to first base defensively, so he has to show even better at the plate than if he offered defensive value. He does possess plus bat speed, and the ball jumps off his barrel, but he's slumped a bit early this season.

Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
While McCullers started this year 4-0, he lands on the Stock Down list because scouts hoped to see improvements in some key areas that have not yet been displayed. He's still inconsistent with his command and there are issues with his delivery, including a lot of effort, and the buzz is that he's headed for the bullpen as a professional.

After faring very well in his first few outings and impressing over the summer, fall and early winter, Fried has looked very pedestrian of late. He's sat 89-92 mph with his fastball and has not commanded his arsenal well in his last two starts, getting touched up in both. It's far too early to suggest this will ultimately impact his draft stock, but the trend isn't rosy.

Giolito lands here based solely on his elbow injury. It's been described as a UCL sprain -- I coined it a potential "UCLA sprain" for its impact on Giolito's decision to sign a pro deal or head to UCLA next fall -- but sprains too often turn up as tears, which generally require Tommy John surgery. The right-hander is my No. 1 overall prospect, prep or college, and will remain at the top of the prep list until more is known of his condition.

If Giolito returns and shows he's 100 percent, he's still likely to be selected in the top 5-10 picks, if not the top three.


On top of Giolito's injury, there have been two others that may weaken the prep class and drop the stock of the players in question. Albuquerque Academy (Albuquerque, N.M.) catcher/infielder Alex Bregman broke the tip of his middle finger and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Showing the toughness clubs want to see, Bregman hurt the finger in pregame yet played and had two hits.

Ringgold (Ga.) left-hander Matthew Crownover, the nation’s No. 8 lefty, recently had Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of the season. He wasn't considered a first-round talent, but he has touched 95 mph and had a shot to sneak into the top 100 despite his lack of ideal height at 6-0. He's likely headed for Clemson and will be draft eligible in 2015.

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.

The Starting Nine: Preseason look

February, 29, 2012
The Starting NineMike Janes/Four Seam Images via AP Images, Scott Kurtz/ESPNHS(From left to right) Byron Buxton, Lucas Giolito and Joey Gallo are the three top preseason candidates for The Diamond Gem, the title bestowed upon the nation's most outstanding baseball player based on on-field performance.

With spring right around the corner, ESPNHS has begun its search for the nation’s top high school baseball player, regardless of school year and based solely on on-field performance.

Every two weeks, we’ll rank the nine players in order in The Starting Nine. And at the end of the season, whoever is in the top spot will be crowned The Diamond Gem, our award given to the nation’s most outstanding player.

So to kick it off, we give you our preseason Starting Nine. Leading the way is Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.) senior Lucas Giolito, the nation’s top right-handed pitcher who dominated opposing hitters last season and has looked very much like an early first-round pick in the early going this year.

The Starting Nine: Preseason

1. Lucas Giolito, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
RHP, Senior
Why he’s here: The nation’s top right-hander, Giolito went 9-0 last year with a 1.00 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 70.1 innings. He also pitched four complete games, three of which were shutouts.

2. Joey Gallo, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
1B/3B/RHP, Senior
Why he’s here: The top player on the top team in the POWERADE FAB 50, Gallo hit .471 last year with 25 homers and 78 RBIs while leading Gorman to its sixth straight state title. He also was 3-1 on the bump with a 1.12 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 18.2 innings.

3. Byron Buxton, Appling County (Baxley, Ga.)
OF, Senior
Why he’s here: The nation’s top outfielder and potential top 10 pick in June’s MLB draft flirted with the .600 mark last season (he finished hitting .594) and clubbed 10 homers while driving in 48 runs.

4. Lance McCullers Jr., Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.)
RHP/SS, Senior
Why he’s here: The hard-throwing right-hander (he’s hit 100 mph on the radar gun) went 5-2 with a 1.71 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 45 innings last season for the Class 4A state runner-up. He also hit .422 with seven homers and 24 RBIs.

5. Kayden Porter, Spanish Fork (Utah)
RHP/OF, Senior
Why he’s here: Porter picked up ESPNHS National Junior of the Year honors last year after leading Spanish Fork to its third straight state title. He went 9-1 with 85 strikeouts in 59 innings and hit .570 with 14 homers and 50 RBIs.

6. Gavin Cecchini, Barbe (Lake Charles, La.)
SS, Senior
Why he’s here: Leader of Louisiana powerhouse picked up Gatorade State Player of the Year honors last season after hitting .548 with 10 homers, 41 RBIs and 32 stolen bases.

7. Max Fried, Harvard-Westlake (Studio City, Calif.)
LHP, Senior
Why he’s here: The nation’s top lefty, Fried went 7-3 with a 1.31 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 69.2 innings at Montclair Prep (Van Nuys, Calif.). He transferred to Harvard-Westlake after Montclair Prep cut its athletics program.

8. Kyle Carter, Columbus (Ga.)
OF/LHP, Senior
Why he’s here: Carter, who starred on the Columbus team that won the 2006 Little League World Series, set a single-season school record with 22 homers last season to help Columbus earn its second straight state title and 11th overall. He also hit .467 with 47 RBIs and went 9-4 on the mound with a 2.33 ERA.

9. Courtney Hawkins, Carroll (Corpus Christi, Texas)
RHP/OF, Senior
Why he’s here: The leader of the No. 4 team in the POWERADE FAB 50, Hawkins led Carroll to a state title as a sophomore and the state semifinals last season. As a junior, he hit .410 with 15 homers, 49 RBIs and 22 stolen bases and was 10-2 with a 2.35 ERA and 81 strikeouts.

Another 25 players we’re tracking to begin the 2012 season

OF Albert Almora, Mater Academy (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.), Sr.
RHP Freddy Avis, Menlo School (Atherton, Calif.), Sr.
1B Keon Barnum, King (Tampa, Fla.), Sr.
RHP Ryan Burr, Highlands Ranch (Colo.), Sr.
C Zach Collins, American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), Jr.
C Clint Coulter, Union (Camas, Wash.), Sr.
OF David Dahl, Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.), Sr.
RHP Ty Hensley, Santa Fe (Edmond, Okla.), Sr.
3B/RHP Carson Kelly, Westview (Portland, Ore.), Sr.
LHP Nathan Kirby, James River (Midlothian, Va.), Sr.
C Jeremy Martinez, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), Jr.
C/SS/RHP Wyatt Mathisen, Calallen (Corpus Christi, Texas), Sr.
OF/RHP Ty Moore, Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.), Sr.
3B/OF Mitch Nay, Hamilton (Chandler, Ariz.), Sr.
1B/RHP Matt Olson, Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.), Sr.
3B Rio Ruiz, Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.), Sr.
SS Addison Russell, Pace (Fla.), Sr.
RHP Lucas Sims, Brookwood (Snellville, Ga.), Sr.
LHP Matt Smoral, Solon (Ohio), Sr.
1B/RHP Jake Thompson, Rockwall-Heath (Heath, Texas), Sr.
RHP/OF Keegan Thompson, Cullman (Ala.), Jr.
C Stryker Trahan, Acadiana (Lafayette, La.), Sr.
LHP Hunter Virant, Camarillo (Calif.), Sr.
RHP Walker Weickel, Olympia (Orlando, Fla.), Sr.
OF/LHP Jesse Winker, Olympia (Orlando, Fla.), Sr.

Stryker Trahan is nation’s best backstop

February, 17, 2012
Stryker TrahanScott Kurtz/ESPNHSAcadiana (Lafayette, La.) senior and Ole Miss recruit Stryker Trahan batted .460 with five homers and 31 RBIs last season.

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 catchers headlined by Acadiana (Lafayette, La.) standout Stryker Trahan.

Last year, Trahan was a Class 5A All-State first team selection after he batted .460 with five homers and 31 RBIs. He signed with Ole Miss.

Note: There are others that catch at the prep level that have enough offensive potential to have landed in the Top 10, but don't, in my opinion, have a great enough shot to stick at the position. This Top 10 has the best present skills and tools to remain catchers in pro ball.

1. Stryker Trahan, Acadiana (Lafayette, La.)
Trahan possesses good arm strength, quick feet and a consistent swing that produces above-average power from the left side of the plate. He's strong and sturdy, suggesting he can physically handle catching long term, but he also runs well, posting times from home to first in the low four-second range. He's committed to Ole Miss, but the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder has a chance to be taken off the board among the top 20 picks and is among the better high school catching prospects over the past five years.

2. Clint Coulter, Union (Camas, Wash.)
Coulter, a former elite wrestler, has only focused solely on baseball for one season, but it’s already paying off for the 6-foot-3, 215-pound right-handed hitter. He shows strength and a good approach at the plate and during the Area Code Games tryouts last summer stood out with a short swing and good hip rotation. He's signed a letter of intent with Arizona State, but there is also a good chance he's selected on Day 1 of the draft, which generally guarantees a player a mid-to-high six-figure bonus.

3. Alex Bregman , Albuquerque Academy (Albuquerque, N.M.)
Bregman played shortstop last summer and looked like a quality player, but most scouts project him at second base or catcher. His ranking here is based on the possibility that he sticks behind the plate. He certainly possesses the athletic ability, and his quick release bodes well for the position. He could stand to get stronger, however. He's an LSU commit who could sneak into second round with a strong spring.

4. Wyatt Mathisen, Calallen (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Mathisen's sound approach at the plate and strong arm highlight a solid package of skills for a prep catcher. He's an accurate thrower as well and has quick hands that help him generate bat speed. Mathisen will head to Austin to play for the Longhorns if he doesn't sign a pro deal this coming summer. He projects as a potential second-round pick as the 2012 schedule begins.

5. C.J. Saylor, South Hills (West Covina, Calif.)
Saylor gets the most out of his 5-foot-10, 180-pound frame, including some gap power and above-average arm strength. His strong lower half helps him produce solid pop times and provides a solid base when swinging the bat. The swing itself has flaws, including a stiff front arm, but there's bat speed and good hand-eye coordination. The San Diego State signee should hear his name called on Day 2.

6. Bryan De La Rosa, Bucky Dent Baseball School (Delray Beach, Fla.)
De La Rosa, a Florida State commit, possesses solid bat speed, generated from good hip rotation and quick wrists. His pop times sit in the 1.7-1.75 range, which is excellent, and despite his lack of size — 5-foot-9, 180 pounds — there's some upside in his game. He'll have to get stronger in his upper body and continue to work on his technique behind the plate and approach at it, but the Puerto Rico native is likely to garner a lot of attention in the middle rounds of Day 2, if not before.

7. Christopher Chinea, Gulliver Prep (Pinecrest, Fla.)
Chinea may have as much chance to jump up the charts as any other prep backstop. He's strong yet athletic at 6-feet and just over 200 pounds, and the power he's displayed is impressive. He was injured late last spring, but there are scouts who believe he's a solid talent that they'd like to keep from heading to LSU. Arm strength and a power swing may lead the way.

8. Ruben Ybarra, Riverside Poly (Riverside, Calif.)
Ybarra may be right behind Chinea in terms of possessing the raw physical tools to greatly improve his stock by draft day. There's big power in his swing and his arm is above average. He's committed to Arizona State, but another year working on his accuracy, making contact at the plate and improving his footwork could mean a spot in the top 100.

9. Tomas Nido, Orangewood Christian (Maitland, Fla.)
Nido is a favorite of mine after studying video and talking to scouts. He stands out in the most important categories as far as tools are concerned — arm strength, receiving and power at the plate. His pop times are above average, but during games he's shown a tendency to open his front side on throws. The hit tool needs work, too, and despite the raw power the swing is long and his hands are busy. He's another Florida State commit and a Day 2 prospect, but he has a chance to end up among the top five prep catchers off the board.

10. Wilfredo Rodriguez, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo, Puerto Rico)
Rodriguez has good feet, running many 60s in under seven seconds, which is good for a catcher. He has good arm strength, is very accurate and his footwork is also solid. His swing is simple and produces line drives, but he does bar his front arm and has a difficult time with good pitches on the outer half. He's signed on at Seminole State College.

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.

Stryker Trahan turning heads

October, 14, 2011
Stryker Trahan, Area Code Baseball, high school baseball, Texas RangersScott Kurtz/ESPNHSStryker Trahan is one of the top catchers in the 2012 class and continues to improve.
Over the fall and winter months, ESPN High School will be spotlighting players that stood out over the summer baseball seasons, giving you an in-depth look at some of the best prospects of 2011 and beyond.

Catchers who can hit from the left-side of the plate with power are not exactly commonplace in the game today. The position has generally been defensive oriented due to the wear and tear, and generally players that provide offensive value switch positions to maximize their worth. This is why players like Joe Mauer, Brian McCann and to a lesser extent Alex Avila and Matt Weiters are thought of as indispensable to their respective organizations.

It’s too early to tell if he’ll be in that class, but the reason’s above are why some talent evaluators are falling in love with Acadania (Scott, La.) High School's Stryker Trahan.

“(Trahan) is a heck of a talent,” said an SEC coach. “You see the plus bat-speed, you see the ball just jump of his bat –be it aluminum or wood – and then you watch the kid run and throw? He’s a star in college at third base or the outfield. If he can stay at catcher he’s the type of kid who could take you to Omaha.”

That may seem like lofty expectations for a young man who just started his senior year of high school, but one need only to see his previous accolades to know why he’s so highly regarded. Trahan was busy over the summer, participating in the 2011 Area Code Games and the 2011 Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley field, where he put on a show during batting practice and was selected to participate in the home run derby before the game.

While Trahan has impressed everyone offensively, Trahan is much more enigmatic behind the dish. While no one can question the natural arm strength, his footwork – though improving – still isn’t up to standard, and blocking pitches is not yet a large part of his skillset.

“Really, it’s just going to depend on how patient a school or club is (with him),” an NL-East scout says. “No high school kid is going to just be ready defensively to catch, it’s a difficult position. This is my first look at him, but the info I’ve seen says that he’s done nothing but improve since he started playing the position. A club may want to try and advance his bat quickly and that could derail the progress, or a team may decide they just don’t want his knees to take away his speed and athleticism. Outside of that though, I give him a chance. There’s just so much value in catchers who can hit, it’s worth the risk to me.”

Another question is where exactly Trahan will be playing baseball after 2012. Trahan – who also is the starting quarterback for Acadania this fall – is currently committed to play baseball at Ole Miss come 2012, but the prospects of being a high draft pick could change that quickly.

“It wouldn’t stun me one bit if you saw him taken in the first two rounds,” an AL-West scout said. “The power is well-above average and even as an outfielder the overall skill to me is top 100. Not saying that’s where he’ll end up, but that’s where the talent stands right now.”

Whether that talent ends up at Ole Miss come next year – or behind the plate long-term – Stryker Trahan is a name that demands your attention now and in the future.