High-SchoolNorth-Carolina: High School Baseball

Jameis WinstonDustin Snipes/ESPNHSJameis Winston of Hueytown (Ala.) was drafted in the 15th round by the Texas Rangers. The nation's No. 1 quarterback is expected to play both football and baseball at Florida State.
The first day of the 2012 MLB draft had a definite high school feel to it with 35 prep prospects getting drafted on Monday, highlighted by Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa going No. 1 overall to Houston and Appling County (Baxley, Ga.) outfielder Byron Buxton following at No. 2 to Minnesota.

But while the first day of the draft was filled with plenty of star power, the last two days featured plenty of intriguing high school storylines. Here were the best of the bunch.

Can I Graduate?

Providence (Charlotte, N.C.) senior right-hander Ty Buttrey created quite a stir when his family revealed he wouldn’t be able to walk with his graduating class. The mix-up occurred when Buttrey, a fourth-round pick of the Boston Red Sox and the No. 25 player in the ESPN 100, skipped graduation rehearsal to negotiate a deal with an MLB team because no cell phones were permitted at the rehearsal.

Apparently, though, it was all a miscommunication, as Buttrey was ultimately allowed by his high school principal to walk with his class, according to WBTV News in Charlotte.

Two-Sport Stars

There were plenty of questions of how far Jameis Winston of Hueytown (Ala.) and Anthony Alford of Petal (Miss.) would fall in the draft because of their football commitments.

Winston, who’s rated the nation’s No. 1 quarterback in the ESPN 150, signed with Florida State is expected to play both football and baseball there. He’s rated the nation’s No. 71 baseball player in the ESPN 100.

Alford, the nation’s No. 95 football recruit in the ESPN 150 and No. 29 baseball prospect in the ESPN 100, signed with Southern Mississippi.

Winston, an outfielder and right-handed pitcher, was drafted in the 15th round by Texas, while Alford was selected in the third round by Toronto.

The Rangers told ESPN Dallas they were hopeful Winston would choose to play for them in the offseason once Florida State’s football season was over, like Russell Wilson did at NC State and Kyle Parker did at Clemson.

Meanwhile, Grant (Sacramento, Calif.) senior Shaq Thompson, a Washington football recruit rated the nation’s No. 3 safety in the ESPN 150, was drafted in the 18th round by the Boston Red Sox. What’s intriguing about that is Thompson didn’t even play baseball his junior year and played sparingly as a sophomore. But Thompson told The Sacramento Bee he plans on signing with the Red Sox, though he’ll still honor his commitment to the Huskies.

Where’s Kyle Carter?

Columbus (Ga.) senior outfielder/left-handed pitcher Kyle Carter enjoyed a phenomenal 2012 campaign, hitting 14 homers and going 12-2 on the bump with a 0.98 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 86 innings to help the Blue Devils to their third straight state title and 12th overall. Columbus is No. 2 in the POWERADE FAB 50.

With a season like that, the Georgia recruit figured he’d go in the first few rounds. But after 40 rounds, he didn’t get drafted at all.

What gives?

Carter told the Ledger-Enquirer that after he wasn’t drafted in the second round, he told teams he was heading to Georgia.

Another player who fell for what is believed to be signability issues is Camarillo (Calif.) left-hander Hunter Virant, who lasted until the 11th round, when he was selected by Houston. Virant is a UCLA commitment.

When asked about UCLA or the Astros, Virant told the Ventura County Star, "The Astros still need to put together some money, so you never know. Right now the only sure thing is UCLA. But it's a win-win no matter what happens with those options."

Injuries and Arm Trouble

A few top prospects fell in the draft due to injury issues, most notably Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.) infielder Rio Ruiz. Once considered a potential first-round pick, Ruiz had a blood clot removed from his clavicle this spring and missed most of his senior season. A USC commit, Ruiz was selected in the fourth round by Houston.

Meanwhile, Bolles School (Jacksonville, Fla.) right-hander Hayden Hurst, who had Tommy John surgery as an eighth-grader, lasted until the 17th round, where he was selected by Pittsburgh.

While we're on the topic of arms, the three pitchers we featured last week in our article on high pitch counts Emerson Gibbs of Jesuit (New Orleans), Mitch Sewald of Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, La.) and Willie Nastasi of Barnstable (Mass.) — weren't drafted at all. Gibbs and Sewald combined to throw 347 pitches in a game this April, while Nastasi tossed 155 pitches of his own in one start.

No word whether those high pitch counts scared off teams, but they couldn't have helped.

No Pressure, Kid

There are a lot of expectations heaped on sons of big leaguers. Now imagine you got drafted by the team your dad starred for.

That's what Ryan Ripken is facing. The Gilman (Baltimore) first baseman and South Carolina recruit was drafted in the 20th round by the Baltimore Orioles, the same squad his dad, Cal Jr., delivered a Hall of Fame career for. Ryan hit .377 and was 4-1 as a pitcher this year for Gilman.

Meanwhile, Tate Matheny, the son of St. Louis manager Mike Matheny, was drafted by the Cardinals in the 23rd round. The senior center fielder and Missouri State recruit hit .610 with 11 homers, 51 RBIs and 25 stolen bases this season for Westminster Christian (Town & Country, Mo.), leading the team to a second straight state title.

ESPNHS Baseball Players of the Week

June, 7, 2012
6/07/12
10:02
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(After games of Tuesday, June 5)

One player is chosen from each region of the country. These are the final ESPNHS Player of the Week honorees for the 2011-12 school year.

EAST

Alex Godzak, Westhill (Syracuse, N.Y.)

The senior left-handed pitcher was dominant in an 8-1 win over Cazenovia (N.Y.) in the Section III Class B championship game. Godzak allowed only one hit -- a sixth-inning double -- while striking out 13 batters and yielding only one walk to avenge a regular-season loss. Godzak, a Canisius recruit who had a perfect game through five innings, improved his season record to 10-1 with an earned run average under 1.00. The win advances the Warriors to the state tournament this week. Westhill won state crowns in 2009 and 2010.

SOUTHEAST

Jimmy Boyd, Middle Creek (Apex, N.C.)

A four-year varsity starter, Boyd led the Mustangs to the Class 4A state title, which also is the first state title in any sport for the school. Boyd pitched a one-hitter with eight strikeouts in a 2-0 win against Hough (Cornelius, N.C.) in the first game of the best-of-three title series. Middle Creek then won the second game 10-4. In addition to pitching, Boyd also reached base four times in the two games. For the season, Boyd went 8-1 with a 0.86 ERA. He also batted .450, including .550 in the playoffs.

MIDWEST

Kevin Ruff, Minooka (Ill.)

The right-handed senior pitcher was perfect in a 9-0 victory over O'Fallon (Ill.) in the Class 4A sectional tournament final. Ruff retired all 21 batters in his first career no-hitter. Ruff struck out just four batters, but allowed only five balls hit out of the infield and depended on team defense in the playoff game. Earlier in the season, Ruff -- who also plays third base and the outfield -- had a one-hitter against Romeoville (Ill.).

MIDLANDS

Turner Larkins, Arlington Martin (Arlington, Texas)

He’s the only sophomore on the roster for Martin’s No. 7 FAB 50 squad, but Larkins pitched like a seasoned veteran when the team topped Southlake Carroll (Southlake, Texas) 5-2 in the third game of a best-of-three playoff series. Larkins keyed the win by striking out 13 batters and pitching out of jams. He improved to 10-0 for the season with a 1.25 ERA. Martin advanced to the Class 5A state tournament for the first time since 1993.

WEST

Luke Eubank, Newbury Park (Calif.)

He didn’t get his fourth no-hitter of the season, but this senior will gladly take a three-hitter at Dodger Stadium and leading his team to the CIF Southern Section Division I title. Eubank, who had eight strikeouts and no walks, was the difference in Newbury Park’s 3-1 victory against Corona (Calif.). Earlier in the week, he closed out the Panthers’ 5-2 win over previous FAB 50 No. 1 Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) with two scoreless innings of relief. For the season, Eubank finished 11-0 with two saves and an ERA of approximately 1.01.

ESPNHS Baseball Players of the Week

April, 26, 2012
4/26/12
9:50
AM ET
(After games of Tuesday, April 24)

One player is chosen from each region of the country. The only other criteria is that no player will be chosen more than once during a season.

EAST

John Miraglia, Wilmington Friends (Wilmington, Del.)
The senior right-handed pitcher/shortstop got off to a bad start against St. Andrew's (Middletown, Del.) when the Saints loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning. Miraglia then fanned the next three batters to start a 19-strikeout performance. He also ended with a three-hitter in leading the Quakers to a 1-0 victory. The other two outs were recorded by routine, infield grounders to Miraglia and the first baseman.

SOUTHEAST

Zach Wall, Hayesville (Hayesville, N.C.)
In a game played earlier this week, Wall hit three homers and also went 4-for-4 with eight RBIs to lead Hayesville past Swain County (Bryson, N.C.). The 6-foot-2, 175-pound junior shortstop and pitcher also had a six-RBI game last week and had raised his season home run total to 10 in just 13 games after the monster outing against Swain County. Wall, who also allowed three hits in five innings of pitching in that same game, pitched a no-hitter earlier this season against Murphy (N.C.). He was a Class 1A all-state pick last year and was a preseason all-state choice by ESPNHS.

MIDWEST

Zack Silerzio, Crete-Monee (Crete, Ill.)
The senior right-handed pitcher recorded consecutive no-hit victories last week over Kankakee (Ill.) 10-0 and Rich East (Park Forest, Ill.) 7-0. In the two gems, he struck out 20 batters and walked five while tossing 13 consecutive hitless innings. In his next outing, Silerzio (4-3) allowed five hits in five innings of a 7-3 victory over Bloom (Chicago Heights, Ill.). A Bloom single in the first inning halted Silerzio's no-hit streak.

MIDLANDS

Austin Bentlage, Union (Mo.)
After missing all of last season with a sore arm, Bentlage is making up for lost time. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound senior set a Missouri state record last week by striking out 18 batters in a row during a 3-0 no-hitter against New Haven (Mo.). Bentlage was making only his fifth start of the season. He walked the third batter of the game, then whiffed 18 in a row for the record before the last batter laid down a bunt and was thrown out at first. Bentlage broke the previous state mark of 15 straight strikeouts set in 2007 by Ryan Austin of Hume (Mo.).

WEST

Dylan Cozens, Chaparral (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
As we were finishing this week’s honors, Chaparral grad Paul Konerko of the Chicago White Sox was hitting his 400th career homer and had just moved to No. 48 on the all-time major league list. It’s just one reason we couldn’t resist choosing a player from his high school. Cozens, in fact, just broke Konerko’s school record after smashing a pair of homers last week for the Firebirds in their 19-0 romp past Camelback (Phoenix). Cozens’ two blasts upped his season total to 14 and moved him past Konerko’s previous record of 13. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound Cozens is a transfer from Desert Mountain (Scottsdale, Ariz.) and was MVP earlier this season at the Cleats Sports Classic. He hit two homers in the title game to lead Chaparral past Cactus (Glendale, Ariz.). Cozens also is a defensive end in football and had 7.5 sacks last season. He has signed a football letter of intent with Arizona, but could be coming up the charts quickly as a prospect for the upcoming MLB draft.

MLB Draft Stock Watch: High School Look

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
9:49
AM ET
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 their 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.)

STOCK UP

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 consideration.

Eflin
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
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," said an area scout. "He could be an absolute horse. The sky's the limit."

STOCK DOWN

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.

Fried
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
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.

INJURIES

On top of Giolito's injury, there have been two others that may weaken the prep class and drop the stock of the player 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 pre-game 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.

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